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Paul Philippa started to go deaf ten years ago. The 86-year-old business consultant on the NSW Central Coast recently signed up to CapTel, a telephone service that provides live captioning on a special handset.

“I can’t do without it,” Mr Philippa said. “Because with normal telephone conversations, I might only understand what someone is saying about 50 per cent of the time.”

Mr Philippa said the service is particularly important for the regular emergency phone calls he needs to make because of his wife’s health issues.

But an unwelcome change looms for Mr Philippa and 2000 other deaf and hearing-impaired people who use CapTel – which has been available under Australia’s National Relay Service.

The handset will not be available from February next year as it is not supported by the new contractor, Concentrix.

Some CapTel users are concerned about the quality and convenience of the alternative services and are uncomfortable about learning to use a new technology. The average age of people using the service is 80.

Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the government has ignored the concerns of elderly Australians and their families.

“Their decision to cut CapTel outright, without consulting the community or making any reasonable attempt to find middle ground, is not befitting the sensitivity and care we should be showing to elderly deaf Australians,” she said.

Paul Philippa said it doesn’t seem reasonable and he doesn’t trust the government to deliver an adequate alternative. “Why disturb a system that is working and working well? What reason is there?” he said.

Read the whole article by By Fergus Hunter for The Sydney Morning Herald –

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