Did you know that hearing loss is the second most prevalent health problem in the Australian population? The inability to hear and communicate easily can have a big impact on individuals and those close to them.
It’s estimated that one in six Australians has a hearing impairment and that half of all Australians over 60 have enough hearing loss to make communication difficult.
August 23 – 29 is 2015 Hearing Awareness Week is supported by the Office of Hearing Service at the Department of Health and the Deafness Forum of Australia.
The Week aims to dispel the stigma, isolation, lack of work opportunities and resulting negative health outcomes, to improve the overall quality of life for people with deafness or hearing impairment.
It focuses on the fragility of hearing health, ways to protect it and technologies that can assist the hearing impaired to communicate.
The National Relay Service (NRS) is an Australian Government initiative funded by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers such as Optus to help people who are deaf or hearing impaired to communicate. It runs a call centre where relay officers relay calls from the hearing impaired to those with whom they want to communicate. This free service is available to everyone at no charge and is open 24/7.
The NRS provides a number of services to make phone calls using a wide range of telecommunication devices.
These new services allow the hearing impaired community to harness technology such as the mobile and internet communication that now can deliver a broader range of communication choices beyond hearing amplification.
internet relay calL
Internet relay is a two-communication process that allows the hearing impaired to type into a computer, laptop or internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, then read the other person’s responses on their screen. Similar to a Type and Read/ TeleTYpewriter (TTY) call except that you are using a computer, tablet or smartphone instead of a TTY.
This allows people who communicate in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to make phone calls in their own language with users connecting to the internet via broadband.
This allows the hearing impaired to make a call on a mobile phone without an internet connection. They use SMS text messages on their mobile phones and read the responses from others that have been typed by the relay officer.
The NRS app
In line with the popularity of mobile devices, the NRS now also offers an amazing app to help the hearing impaired to access the NRS services. It combines a range of relay calls and support functions in a single app for smartphones and tablets.
Other services provided by the NRS include Captioned Relay; Type and Read; Speak and Read; Type and Listen; and Speak and Listen.