Despite telling Telco companies that there is no point in issuing deaf people with free calling minutes, the Aotearoa Deaf community are no closer to being heard.
“Obviously I can't use calling minutes because I can't call because I'm deaf, so I use text messaging. Hearing people would use a voice call but that's not something that deaf people would use. We're not about ringing”, signs Eric Mathews from the Tū Tangata Turi.
As a result, thousands of Free Carryover minutes continue to fall on deaf ears.
“I think I've 2,300 minutes racked up and I'll never use them, and I never will. I'd rather have more data” signs Sarah Mason from Eyeworks Limited.
This isn't the first time this issue has been raised.
“I've tried lobbying before telling them that Deaf people don't need minutes because we don't make phone calls we're profoundly deaf, so we'd prefer more texts and data because our minutes could be less and they ignored it".
Te Ao Māori News approached New Zealand's top three telecommunication companies and received the following responses.
Minister of Disabilities Carmel Sepuloni spoke with Te Ao, after advising her of this situation.
“This Govt is committed to making NZ a truly inclusive and accessible country. There are 4,000 New Zealanders who use NZ Sign language as their first language. I support the kaupapa of what's being asked for here and I'm quite interested now in talking to NZ Sign language board, ministerial colleagues, and Deaf advocacy agencies and of course the telcos to see if we can progress this”.
More data would bring Deaf more accessibility.
Mason signs, “I'd have skype. I could use video calling with sign language. I could make appointments through NZ relay. I could get the news. I could see the news through that. I know that I wouldn't run out of data. I could get data anywhere I was. It would be really useful for deaf people”.
The Deaf community have found a voice but is Big Telco listening?