One in four telecommunications consumers in Australia is from a Non English Speaking Background (NESB). While this group of consumers is large, there is very little policy development and research on what barriers are faced by these consumers and what mix of services might best meet their needs. As the telecommunications landscape rapidly changes in Australia, there is a strong need for improved understanding of the needs of Australia’s diverse communications consumers.
Communicating Difference: Understanding Communications Consumers from Non English Speaking Backgrounds, written by the National Ethnic Disability Alliance wih the support of the ACCAN Grants Scheme, aims to increase the understanding of the characteristics and needs of NESB communications consumers through an extensive review of Australian and international literature. In short, it aims to investigate what we know about these groups of consumers and what it means. The report focuses on developing an adequate conceptual framework for understanding NESB consumers and investigates literature on the use of telephone, internet and broadcast services, including the needs of NESB sub groups (women, young people and people with disability). The report also identifies areas for further research.
Broadly this report finds that access to telecommunications is a human right and important for social inclusion; that there are differences between different NESB groups how they access and use technology; and that there is a role for government, industry, regulators and consumer advocates in promoting a more responsive telecommunications sector.