Communications breakthrough for deafblind Australians

5 June 2015

Able Australia participant, Michelle Stevens recently became the first deafblind Australian to make a telephone call.

Ms Stevens had the historic chat with her sister Carol using an innovative caption-to-braille service being trialled in Australia for the first time in the world.

The new technology pairs a CapTel (captioned telephone) handset with a braille display, allowing people who are deaf and have low/no vision to speak on the phone and read the response.

Able Australia and Conexu are working in partnership on the Braille captel trial to improve equality telecommunication services within the deafblind community.  

Ms Stevens, whose vision was damaged when she was born prematurely and her hearing lost due to chronic ear infections, said it’s very exciting.

“Having phone conversations with friends and calling my university - using my voice - will be fantastic,” Ms Stevens said.

“The deafblind community will find it really valuable, especially the many older blind people who are losing their hearing; I think it will make a huge difference to their lives and save a lot of time.”

You can watch Michelle make Watch trial participant Michelle make her first call by clicking here.

Braille CapTel is being trialled in three states by the national non-profit organisation Conexu, which promotes communications technology for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people. Able Australia is helping to train the Australian trial participants to use the technology.