Deaf get voicemail messages in text

Mobile industry criticised...

Mobile industry criticised...

Deaf people are piloting a service that allows them to read messages on their phones which were originally left as voicemails.

The Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People has teamed up with mobile services firm SpinVox to provide the service, initially for 15 people.

SpinVox said the service, which is free during the testing period, will be open to the nine million people with hearing impairments in the UK.

The two organisations have criticised telecoms players for failing to include deaf people in the early stages of designing mobile services.

John Hamilton, chairman of the Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People, said: "The majority of deaf mobile phone users rely on text messaging to communicate but their hearing loss creates a barrier to using the voice services currently offered by mobile operators.

Hamilton said: "There is simply not enough being done by organisations to embrace simple ideas like voice-to-text to improve the lives of hearing impaired people. One in seven people in Leeds are either deaf or hard of hearing. We need to break down the barriers between the hearing impaired world and the wider community."

Christina Domecq, CEO of SpinVox, said in a statement: "Service design and innovative applications of existing voice and text technology are often overlooked in the mobile industry, so it's great to be able to make voicemail a service available to the hearing impaired population."