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Do you have trouble hearing people on the phone? This page provides information about a number of products and services which can assist people who are Deaf or have trouble hearing when using the phone.

It includes information about the features included in the popular mobile phones using Apple's iOS or Android; home phones and services available from telco's; and specific services to assist people who have trouble hearing when using the telephone.

Apple iOS – iPhone and iPad

iOS features that help people who are Deaf or have trouble hearing when using the phone. For more information on accessibility features of Apple products, visit the Apple Accessibility page.

FaceTime

FaceTime is the video call feature in iOS. FaceTime is ideal for people who communicate using sign language. All Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices come equipped with FaceTime.

Closed Captions

Apple iPhones and iPads support closed-captions, open captions and subtitles. Video programming with captions (appear as white type on a black background) can be viewed on iPhones and iPads.

Messages with iMessage

iMessage is the text feature in iOS. It can be used to text, send and receive multimedia content with other iPhone or iPad users.

Mono Audio

When using headphones, the iPhone and iPad mono audio feature lets you play both audio stereo channels in both ears, allowing you to adjust the balance for greater volume in either ear.

Visible and Vibrating Alerts

iPhone delivers both visual and vibrating alerts for incoming phone and FaceTime calls, new text messages, new and sent emails, and calendar events. You can set a LED light flash for incoming calls and alerts or have incoming calls display a photo of the caller. Choose from different vibration patterns or create your own.

Made for iPhone Hearing Aids

Apple is working with top manufacturers to introduce hearing aids designed specifically for iPhone. iOS 8 adds multi-device support for Made for iPhone hearing aids, allowing users to pair their hearing aids with multiple iOS devices so they can switch between them as needed.

Support

The Apple Accessibility Support Line is a helpline dedicated to assisting iOS users with vision, hearing, motor or learning impairments. It is a 24 hour service which allows you to directly speak with an Apple representative who is trained in providing support using accessibility services. To access this service call 1300 365 083 (local and national telephone rates apply).

Android

The Android platform supports both hearing aid compatibility (HAC) and teletypewriter (TTY) modes for connecting a TTY device.

As a number of different mobile handset manufacturers use the Android operating system on their phones individual handsets may have additional features which may be useful. To find out more about specific handsets the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) website has an easy to use searchable database listing the features of interest for people who are Deaf or have difficulty hearing when using a mobile phone.

Google Voice Access app

The Google Voice Access app provides capability to operate Android devices by speech commands. The app is available to download free of charge from Google Play store.

National Relay Service

There are a number of services available through the National Relay Service (NRS) specifically to assist people to make and receive phone calls, including video relay for Auslan users, SMS relay for people who have trouble hearing or speaking on a mobile phone when they are out and about, teletypewriter and web text services for people who need to communicate using text. Contact info, Voice 1800 555 660(freecall), TTY 1800 555 630 (freecall) or online.

Several telco's provide a number of products and services which can help people who have difficulty hearing on the phone, including home phones, mobile phones and service plans.

Connecting your TTY to the National Broadband network

If you use a TTY to connect to the National Relay Service or directly to other TTY users, there are a couple of important things to check when your home or office switches to the NBN.

TTYs on the NBN

Both Telstra and Optus have tested their NBN gateways (modems) and found that they will work with TTYs on any of the fixed broadband NBN technologies. This includes Fibre to the Home, Fibre to the Node and Fibre to the Basement.

If you are in an area outside of the NBN fixed broadband footprint, i.e. you are in fixed wireless or satellite areas, then the current copper phone line will remain in service after the NBN services roll out. This means you will be able to continue to use your TTY with your current phone service. You may need to have another service for your broadband connection. (You can check if your area is inside the NBN fixed broadband footprint by entering your address on the nbn website.

Telstra customers

If you are a Telstra customer, or are considering signing up to a Telstra NBN service, you can contact the Telstra Disability Hotline with any questions about your TTY service. To contact the Telstra Disability Hotline via the NRS, the number is 1800 068 424. To contact the Telstra Disability Hotline directly using your TTY, the number is 1800 808 981.

Optus customers

If you are an Optus customer, or are considering signing up to an Optus NBN service, you can call Optus customer service. Connect to the Optus customer service via the NRS, the number is1800 123 124.

Other telecommunications providers

If you are considering signing up to any other telco/internet provider for your NBN services, make sure you check they can provide TTY connectivity over the NBN service offered in your area.

If you did not get your TTY through your current telco provider, i.e. you own your own TTY, contact Printacall on (02) 9809 2392 if you have any questions.

Using the NRS without a TTY

For any questions about the National Relay Service contact the NRS Helpdesk. Helpdesk staff can also provide information on ways you can make NRS calls without using a TTY. Using new technologies, you can make NRS calls anytime from anywhere, even when you are out and about. The NRS Helpdesk contact details are:

Phone: 1800 555 660
TTY: 1800 555 630
Fax: 1800 555 690
SMS: 0416 001 350
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: relayservice.gov.au

Products

Telstra

Telstra provides a range of accessible products and services in addition to the Telstra Disability Equipment program. This includes:

  • Telephone and answering machines
  • Fax options
  • Home phone services
  • Mobile phone services

For more information visit Telstra's Disability Equipment program webpage or call 13 22 00.

Mobile phone: Telstra EasyCall

Accessible prepaid mobile phone with features including:

  • Big buttons with large numbers
  • Large numbers on screen
  • Audio feedback of numbers being dialled
  • Loud, clear speakerphone
  • Hearing aid compatible
  • A quick access switch to make a call in a hurry
  • Desktop charger included
  • Telstra's 'Blue Tick' -can be used in more locations around Australia

To find out more visit Telstra's pre-paid mobile phones webpage.

Optus

Optus offers cordless telephones with features to assist people who have trouble using a standard handset. Features include:

  • Adjustable volume control
  • Visual ringer on base
  • Hearing aid compatible (T-coil)

For handset information visit Optus website.

Useful contact information

Organisation

Role

Web Address

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Telecommunications regulator

www.acma.gov.au

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

Peak telecommunications consumer organisation

www.accan.org.au

Australian Deafblind Council

Advocacy organisation for people who are Deafblind

www.deafblind.org.au

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Australian peak organisation representing the disability sector

www.afdo.org.au

Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Government funded organisation representing and protecting Human Rights

www.humanrights.gov.au

Better Hearing Australia

National organisation for all Australians with hearing impairment

www.betterhearingaustralia.org.au

Communications Alliance Ltd

Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry organisation in Australia

www.commsalliance.com.au

Centrelink

Australian Federal Government social security agency

www.centrelink.gov.au

COTA (Council on the Ageing National Office)

Represents interests of older Australians

www.cota.org.au

Deaf Australia

Peak organisation for Deaf people in Australia

www.deafaustralia.org.au

Deafness Forum

Peak national body representing all interests and viewpoints of the Deaf and hearing impaired communities

www.deafnessforum.org.au

Deaf Services Queensland (Queensland Deaf Society)

QLD Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.deafservicesqld.org.au

Deaf Society of New South Wales

NSW Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.deafsocietynsw.org.au

Deaf Can Do (SA)

SA Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.deafcando.org.au

Deaf Society of Tasmania (Tasmanian Deaf Society)

TAS Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.tasdeaf.org.au

Deaf Society of Victoria (Victorian Deaf Society)

VIC Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.vicdeaf.com.au

Deaf Society of WA (Western Australian Deaf Society)

WA Deaf and hearing impaired service provider

www.wadeaf.org.au

Department of Communications

Australian Federal Government Department of Communications

www.communications.gov.au

National Disability Insurance Agency

Implementing Australian Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme

www.ndis.gov.au

Department of Social Services

Australian Federal Government Department of Social Services

www.dss.gov.au

Independent Living Centres Australia (inc)

Provides independent information about assistive technology products through State and Territory offices

www.ilcaustralia.org

JobAccess

Australian Federal Government workplace modifications program for people with disability

www.jobaccess.gov.au

National Disability Services

Peak body for non-government disability service organisations

www.nds.org.au

National Ethnic Disability Alliance

Peak organisation representing people from non-English speaking backgrounds with disability

www.neda.org.au

National Relay Service (NRS)

Australian Government relay service providing telecommunications service for Deaf, hearing impaired or speech impaired consumers

www.relayservice.gov.au

Office of Hearing Services

Manages the Australian Government Hearing Services Program

www.health.gov.au/hear

Self Help for Hard of Hearing Australia (SHHH Australia)

Educational organisation dedicated to helping Australians with a hearing loss

www.shhhaust.org

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

Fast, free and fair dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service

www.tio.com.au

Women with Disabilities Australia Peak organisation representing interests of Australian women with disability

www.wwda.org.au

Apps for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired

Name

Purpose

Cost

Rating (out of 5)

Tap Tap

Alerts

$2.99

N/A

Dragon Dictation

Dictation

Free

3.5

ASL Dictionary

Learning ASL

$2.99 N/A

Subtitles

Real-time Subtitles

$0.99

2.5

soundAMP R

Hearing Aid iPhone

$5.49

4

Fring

Messaging

Free

3

RIDBC Auslan Tutor

Auslan

Free

4.5