Deafblind community gets connected

Media Release, 03 December 2012

Telstra and Able Australia Services have announced a partnership that will open up the digital world to deafblind Australians.

This partnership with Telstra will deliver digital literacy training materials and access to equipment such as iPads, tablets and Braille devices to deafblind Australians.

Celestine Hare, CEO of Able Australia, said people who are deafblind are more likely to have difficulties with communication, mobility and accessing information. This can lead to social isolation, loneliness, boredom, communication difficulties, unemployment, and the frustration of relying on support workers for simple tasks and chores.

“Telecommunications is very important to the deafblind community not only to better access government and business services but also to connect with family and friends on social media. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly important to this community as they can readily access and respond to status updates in Braille or in large print format,” Mrs Hare said.

“However there is a great need in this community to have access to both devices and training options to learn how to use these devices. This partnership with Telstra will deliver training materials and access to equipment such as iPads, tablets and Braille devices.

“There are currently between 7000 and 8000 people under the age of 65 who are deafblind, this figure increases to 332,400 people when factoring in people with mild hearing loss and these numbers are predicted to grow with Australia’s ageing population,” Mrs Hare added.

Telstra's Chief Sustainability Officer, Tim O'Leary, said "Telstra is committed to connecting all Australians with the benefits of modern communications technologies - irrespective of age, income, ability, location or disadvantage."

"We understand, and have seen, the transformative effects of modern telecommunications on members of the deafblind community. This partnership will improve the connectivity of deafblind Australians and give them another way to communicate and interact with each other and the broader community.”

“In addition, the training materials can be used to support broader audiences with visual or hearing impairments,” Mr O’Leary said.   

Beginning in early 2013, the partnership will conduct training with Victorian-based audiences before looking to broaden the program to a national audience in 2014.

About Deafblindness
Deafblindness, sometimes called dual sensory impairment, is the combination of both hearing and vision impairment. Most people with deafblindness have some residual hearing and/or sight and a wide range of forms of deafblindness exist. There are many causes of deafblindness; congenital deafblindness is when someone is born with combined sight and hearing difficulties and acquired deafblindness is when someone loses hearing or sight, later in life.

About Able Australia
Able Australia Services is a long-standing non-profit organisation that provides services to people living with multiple disabilities, including deafblindness. Their vision is to create a community where the people they support are seen, heard, respected, valued and connected. They reach out to people living with multiple disabilities, helping them achieve a quality of life that anyone in the community might expect and a feeling of worth, belonging and self-fulfillment.

About Telstra
A focus of Telstra’s sustainability function is digital inclusion, or what we call Everyone Connected. Telstra’s Everyone Connected initiatives include the longstanding Access for Everyone and Connected Seniors programs, and other programs delivered by the Telstra Foundation and Telstra Indigenous Directorate.  At Telstra, Everyone Connected means ensuring all Australians enjoy the everyday benefits of being connected to modern communication technologies - irrespective of age, income, ability, location or disadvantage. Our Everyone Connected community programs enhance digital inclusion by utilising our core capabilities, assets, expertise and national presence to support access, skills development and safety for those Australians and communities most in need.