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Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Communications accessibility: 2016 and beyond consultation paper released

24 March 2016

The Australian Government has released a consultation paper aimed at improving communication options for Australians with disability and ensuring the sustainability of the National Relay Service (NRS).

The consultation paper Communications accessibility: 2016 and beyond canvasses the growing range of communications options available for Australians with a disability. The paper seeks feedback on ways to improve the delivery of the NRS, which helps people who are deaf or have a speech or hearing impairment to make and receive phone calls.

Nearly half a million successful connections were made to the NRS in 2014-15 and use has continued to grow this financial year.

Advances in technology have improved the range of accessible services available in Australia.

Smartphone and tablet devices now offer high levels of accessibility with a growing number of text and video based communication options, such as live chat, messaging, email and video calls. This has created more real-time and independent options for people with disability to communicate with friends, family and businesses without requiring specialised equipment.

Promoting and enabling adoption of these improved accessible service options will provide substantial opportunities to improve the overall quality of life for people with disability. Use of alternative service options will also assist in maintaining the sustainability of the NRS as a safety net communication option for Australians who are deaf, hearing and/or speech impaired, through spreading the demand for accessible services across a wide array of options.

The Government is seeking feedback on the options provided in the consultation paper by Friday 6 May 2016.

The consultation paper is available at www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/communications-accessibility-2016-and-beyond

Media contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.Sywak@communications.gov.au

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