New Ways of Getting a Fair Hearing

The deaf American  actress Marlee Martin once said she hoped she could…”change attitudes on  deafness and prove we really can do everything except hear.”  Stephanie Beacham, another actress spoke  about the way in which hearing difficulty isolated her.  “I  loathe parties. I attend, smile and leave”.

The number of profoundly deaf people in Surrey is not known  although it has been estimated to be 350.  There is more information available regarding people with hearing  difficulties and not surprisingly it is a condition which particularly affects  the elderly. Forecasts indicate that in  Waverley alone, by 2015 there will be over 11,700 residents over 65 years old  with moderate or severe hearing impairment and that this figure will rise to  almost 13,200 in 2020 – the highest figures in Surrey.

There are services which provide help for people who find  it difficult to hear (or to speak) when using the telephone.  Text Relay is a service  designed to help deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people to make  telephone calls which will improved next month.  If  you are a Text Relay user you can make calls via a relay assistant who converts  text to speech and speech to text. Up until now these services were only  available on textphones and Braille readers. After 18 April they will also be  able to download a free app to use better services from smartphones, tablets,  laptops or computers.  One download  can be used on  more than one device.

Text  Relay is a private and confidential service available 24 hours a  day, 365 days a year. Personal, sensitive and confidential information is  relayed securely by the emergency services, Government Departments and banks and  Building Societies which use Text Relay.  Conversations are not shared with anybody unless it is directed at the  Relay Assistant, or if there is reason to believe a criminal or terrorist act is  being discussed.

Calls are charged at the telecommunications provider’s standard  rate. There is no additional charge for this service and because text calls can  take longer than voice calls, telecommunications providers may provide refunds for their customers. 

The app which is available next month will work  with

  • Windows based personal computer or laptop running Windows XP,   Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • Intel based Linux personal computer or laptop
  • Intel based Mac Operating System (“OS”) X
  • mobile telephones and tablets running Android 4   OS.

When you have installed the  app on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone you can link the app to all  your phone numbers. For example if you have the app installed on a tablet, as  long as the tablet has an Internet connection, you can use the same app with  your home phone, your work phone, or your mobile. 

Find out more and download the app from the Next Generation Text  Relay service at

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