Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Are there any Mobile Phone Tariffs for Deaf Users?

Are there any Mobile Phone Tariffs for Deaf Users?
I have for 20 years now put up with buying into phone plans that supply 1,000 of free talk time to attract customers and have for years paid punitive rates for SMS messages.
At home I use FREE e-mail and various FREE Instant messenger systems to contact my mainly hearing friends and family.
My BT phone bill is always expensive and so complicated to understand I don’t even bother opening it to see how I need to pay £50 but only made £5 worth of “calls” – mostly visitors borrowing a cheap call because like 99% of people with a flashy mobile these days they have “run out of credit” .
A New era is finally upon us, Smart phones – The flashy TV commercials – web-sites promise at last MSN LIVE MESSENGER – Google’s GMAIL - SKYPE – YAHOO MESSENGER and of course many others available now 24 hours a day. At home but far more importantly for the deaf for almost the first time there is an easy way to communicate beyond specialist closed devices - The Smartphone promises universal communications – that is something the hearing world have taken advantage of almost since the invention of the telephone and never more so than in the age of the mobile.
Three’s X series looks compelling – but even as an IT professional I found it almost impossible to establish exactly what “fair usage” of their bandwidth really meant – but hey - they have loads worthless free “hearing minutes” I’m not knocking THREE I’m sure in the hearing world it’s a fantastic deal – I just resent committing myself to an outrageous 18 month contract paying for stuff I cannot use, The Orange site is no better but they thoughtfully provide to completely useless telephone numbers on their disability access page. GRRRR – A quick scan of all the major telephone networks paint a similar picture.
Well I'm not going to take it anymore!
And if I have made you question for a moment that the phone in your pocket represents excellent value for money to a deaf user then I invite you to get vocal about it too.
So Phone companies – Stuff your Free “Hearing Minutes” – Music Downloads – Ringtones – FM Radios – 18 month contracts – and fat-cat price plans.
STOP RIPPING US OFF.
It’s now technologically simple for any phone network to create a Deaf Price Plan that would allow us to communicate easily with the hearing world through a universal device with internationally recognised standards – yet it’s being excluded from a large community – is it not time for the phone companies to take our voice seriously – or will the regulators OFCOM do it for us? - don’t bank on it - their website advice to Deaf users is “look at the service providers price lists on-line” and confusingly recommends the w3c.org web-site – really useful if you are a budding website designer.
The RNID site sections on mobile phone is little more than a buyer’s guide that reads like it was written when mobiles were first introduced but I guess if you don’t know what an SMS message is - it’s the place to go.
Background from the RNID:
Deaf and hard of hearing adults in the UK
These are the latest estimated figures for the number of deaf and hard of hearing adults in the UK. There are:
• 8,945,000 deaf and hard of hearing people
• 2,474,000 deaf and hard of hearing people aged 16 to 60
• 6,471,000 deaf and hard of hearing people aged over 60
• 8,257,000 people with mild to moderate deafness
• 2,366,000 people with mild to moderate deafness aged 16 to 60
• 5,891,000 people with mild to moderate deafness aged over 60
• 688,000 people with severe to profound deafness
• 108,000 people with severe to profound deafness aged 16 to 60
• 580,000 people with severe to profound deafness aged over 60.
In the last few day I have had some – muted responses at very high levels and it does seem to have touched a nerve at some networks, I anticipate some early playing on tariffs - but I suspect we will continue to be ripped off – and be made to feel grateful for a few minor concessions. - I noticed my campaign appears on many forums including a front page “Featured Talkback” on the popular site http://www.zdnet.co.uk - and I’m very grateful for all the sympathetic responses and support.
Two MPs have written and one promises to investigate the matter for himself – the feedback has been very good, many phone forums have typically helpful advice from well meaning users about finding the best deals - but sadly many of them are missing the point and fail to see that all these tariffs are great value if you throw away the “Hearing Minutes” we pay for, which over 20 years I have owned a mobile is a dam lot of money.
Another important point is even if THREE’s X-series modify its £40 tariff its new pricing structure for the MSN Live Messenger effectively changes the way MSN LIVE MESSENGER operates - You DO start paying for it - there’s just a very high limit – but its not free! - So although THREE say UNLIMITED MSN LIVE MESSENGER* the small print on their “fair usage” page states:–
• Unlimited Windows Live Messenger
Fair Use Limit: 10,000 messages each month
This is more than 300 messages each and every day! If you exceed 10,000 messages we may suspend your access to Windows Live Messenger until the next month.
So you see 10,000 sounds a lot - 300 a day – is nowhere near enough to stay in touch with a growing list of friends and family using it – especially as Live Messenger increases its penetration onto the mobile platform and increasingly into B2B and business to customer relationships.
Use up your allowance it will be – a Cut off – simple as that.
(One for the Office of Fair Trading – and the ADVERTISING STANDARDS AUTHORITY and I think OFCOM should look at that too.)
Well THREE we are buying that for a moment!
So has ANYONE out there found a better deal – a provider that understands the problems deaf people have using phones – and more importantly can do it so that the most disadvantaged in our society are not penalized any longer for being disabled.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Panoramio Blog

Panoramio

Google Panoramio

I have been using this for some time - and iframing content to your website will become very easy now the Google Team are on the case
Great fun with very practical applications in both business and leisure.

Great news
Google is planning to acquire Panoramio
Press Release http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/annc/annc_panoramio.html ---
Google

Sylvester

Sylvester
Tribute to Sylvester - By the time Sylvester died on December 16, 1988 of AIDS-related complications, he had firmly cemented his reputation as one of the most original and talented musicians to come out of the disco arena. While Sylvester represented to mainstream America the Black and gay cultural origins of disco music, his body of work included not only crucial contributions to the disco songbook, but also ballads that proved he was a versatile stylist who brought a realness and depth to all his material.