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October 14, 2003

Firms turn a blind eye to 'deaf market'

From: Harrow Times, UK - Oct 14, 2003

COMPANIES in Harrow are missing millions of pounds-worth of business by failing to provide adequate phone services for people.

According to Typetalk, the Royal National Institute for the Deaf's telephone relay service for people with hearing difficulties, local companies are not reaching the "deaf market" which, the charity says, is worth around £28 million a year.

Lorna Hammerstein, head of customer service at Typetalk, said: "In Harrow alone there are around 33,000 people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafened or deaf-blind.

"This is a huge chunk of our population excluded from buying products and services over the phone purely because the vast majority of businesses are completely incapable of handling calls from these customers.

"Added to this is the current trend towards recorded messages which completely exclude textphone users and the increase in telephone ordering systems."

Typetalk is the UK's only national relay service, handling about 37,000 calls every week from people unable to use a conventional phone. Its research reveals which businesses its users regularly have problems, with telephone banking and leisure facilities high on the blacklist.

Typetalk enables users to call a hearing person by adding a special prefix to the number which alerts an operator to join the line if a hearing person answers. It also offers training for firms.

 For more information call 0800 731 1888.

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