… said a deaf friend today.

It’s been on my mind for a while to be honest, I’ve been getting more and more fed up with the lack of flexibility with companies and local services inability to apparently operate by email as well as telephone.

For some services there are understandably security issues, such as banks and credit/loan companies which require talking to the account holder only but I won’t get started on that, I had quite the rant about a friend’s experience with her bank in my column in this month’s issue of the Hearing Times (seek it out) so I’ll stick with the general day to day services out there for now.

For example… Lets look at my experience at trying to find a supplier to fit a composite door for us as our front door was rickety and not entirely secure enough for my liking. It was easy enough to find a door but funnily enough to arrange for a fitter it needed to involve a telephone call to get a fitting quote from a local handyman.

The contradiction here, which I have mentioned before, is why can’t an email be replied to by email? A telephone call is often returned, but an email, especially by way of contact forms on websites, require a telephone number to be entered, and a valid one at that for response.

What is the use in that? Being the only option, that is. Why can’t there be an option to say whether email or telephone is best for the person making the enquiry? You’ll be checking your email anyway to see that a contact form from the website you are listed on has been completed afterall…

I appreciate that the number of tradespeople willing to communicate by email may lessen compared to those who use telephone but quite frankly-its better than no-one and I’d rather pay someone to fit my new door who has that flexibility.

I do wonder why it’s this way. Is it lack of awareness of laziness? Is it because they are out and about a lot so actual sitting at a computer eats into their working time? Or is it that they think we’ll find a way somehow… well we do I suppose. My husband in this case, took the calls. But what if it’s a Deaf couple with Deaf parents and Deaf siblings?

I fully appreciate that there are many people with many different kinds of disabilities out there, and it is difficult to cater for everyone. But many people with a disability can still pick up a phone. Deafness is often a forgotten disability when it comes to making websites and information accessible.

While I’m on the subject of accessible information, I recently attended a huge exhibition at the NEC. There were also some seminars which you could attend. A friend of mine emailed the organisers to see if there was any support for deaf people in these seminars, but had no reply. Not even an acknowledgement. It’s one thing having no provisions in place for a deaf person, in which case I would have had to just simply find my own; it’s another not replying altogether. So I missed the seminars.

We are not trying to be difficult, we are quite simply trying to lead an independent life. We are totally capable of doing so despite obstacles we have to overcome. This is a modern world where equal rights for all is a legal requirement. But as my friend pointed out… her full sentence being: ‘Not being able to hear on the telephone shouldn’t be a problem… don’t we live in the digital age?’. Well… Precisely. It’s a simple thing. It’s the little things. And now I’m going to work out what I can do about it.

Oh and excuse the brevity and possible typos of this post, my first ever post published via an app on my iPhone! See… Technology has come a long way in the last few years let alone the last 100. Why can’t a simple email function be more available too?