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September 6, 2004

SMS craze puts deaf in contact

From: Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia - Sept 6, 2004

Ian Royall

AN unexpected benefit of the SMS craze is it has revolutionised how deaf people communicate with the hearing world, researchers have found.

Text messaging has become a common language, sparking a boom in mobile phone ownership among the deaf.

"Until now, (deaf) communities have been limited to deaf people who can sign and their friends and relatives who have learned to sign," the researchers said. "Deaf and hearing people did not have a common language -- until now."

The researchers, from Bond and Griffith universities in Queensland, found users could contact a breakdown service or a taxi, or even chat to someone across the room or across town, the Medical Observer reported.

Victorian Deaf Society marketing manager Carolyn Fyfe said deaf people first recognised the huge potential of SMS about three years ago.

The society was now lobbying telecommunication companies for discounted, SMS-only plans for deaf people, Ms Fyfe said.

© Herald and Weekly Times