Deaf and hearing impaired people can soon have real-time phone conversations with friends and family using a new technology similar to captioned television.
The Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) yesterday called on up to 500 people to trial the captioned telephone, which transcribes conversations in real-time by connecting to the national relay service over the internet. The text is displayed on a screen attached to the phone.
The technology has been trialled with 30 people over the past year, and used yesterday by grandmother Wendy Home who was born deaf.
At yesterday's event in Melbourne she had her first phone conversation with her daughter in Brisbane.
"Phoning my daughter was very special. I have two daughters and a four-year old grandson who I will be phoning regularly now," Home said.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy welcomed the pilot as a technology that demonstrated the potential applications of widespread broadband availability.
"Captioned telephony is another technology that has the opportunity to open doors," he said.
ACE CEO Sandy Gilliland hoped the trial would be a precursor to delivery og the technology to all deaf and hearing impaired Australians.