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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 962

(Question No. 1411)

Mr Lloyd asked the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 8 May 1984:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to the many difficulties which confront handicapped people in the community when trying to use the public telephone system.

(2) Is it a fact that the 3 main areas of concern to disabled people are (a) difficulties with coin insertion and retrieval by people with limited arm and hand use, (b) difficulty with dialling as opposed to the touch pad system and (c ) the need for a volume control amplifier on the body of the instrument; if so, has he approached Telecom with a view to considering basic changes in design of instruments and installation of public telephones; if not, will he consider such an approach.

Mr Duffy —The answer to the honourable member's question, based on advice from the Australian Telecommunications Commission, is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) (a), (b) and (c) Telecom is aware of the difficulties faced by the disabled in using public telephones. In selected locations, Telecom provides public telephone booths designed specially for the disabled and hearing aid couplers have been installed in many STD green public telephones. In addition, Telecom has modified, in a number of instances, public telephone instruments to assist disabled people in a particular location.

Having regard to the varying modifications required to cater for specific handicaps and the susceptibility of public telephones to vandalism, Telecom is limited in the extent of the services it can provide and modifications it can make to public telephones to meet the needs of the disabled.

Telecom has assured me, however, that it will continue to monitor developments in this area and in developing new generation equipment is taking the needs of the disabled into account.