They got it right first time

4 03 2009


Access isn’t just about having the specialist equipment. It’s also about attitudes. I believe the two go together hand in hand to make a service fully accessible.

I had forgotten my online banking password. Today I phoned my bank via Typetalk and on my first call I got through and they took my call, went through the identification process, dealt with my query, absolutely no problem. Later that day, I logged into my bank account online and got it wrong again, so had to phone the bank to reset my password again. This time, the Typetalk operator kept telling me she couldn’t hear what I was saying as the bank’s computer system kept telling her the available options in her ear. I kept repeating, getting louder each time, which option I wanted and she kept saying she couldn’t hear me. In the end, the Typetalk operator said the bank had hung up on me as I was taking too long to choose an option. Then she explained to me, as if I hadn’t quite understood in the first place, that the bank had been giving the options in her ear and that she couldn’t hear what I was saying as she was listening to them. I said, so what am I supposed to do? Her reply? “I don’t know”.


After a few deep breaths, I picked up the phone and tried again. Typetalk luckily (!) put me through this time. However, now it was the bank that had the problem. They said they couldn’t take a call through Typetalk and would send the relevant documents through the post. What?! I explained that Typetalk operators are bound by the Official Secrets Act and this is a confidential call. I explained, in my Don’t Mess With Me Voice, that I wanted equal access and my choice was to have my query dealt with in the same way as hearing people, i.e. I wanted to deal with this over the phone. In the end she relented and we got it sorted, but not after the d*mn Typetalk operator told me she had explained to the bank what was happening, i.e. she had taken over ‘my’ private conversation and had her own on the side with my bank! I thought Typetalk was meant to be simply a relay service, not one where the operator was butting in all the time. Then to cap it all, the bank said I could call them back on their minicom number. I said, due to the problems with Typetalk, there was no way I was going to chance calling them on a minicom number as I know from experience that it hardly ever gets answered, and when it does, they panic and say no-one knows how to use it therefore they can’t take the call. All that in addition to the Typetalk operator butting in. No thanks.

I’m very lucky that I don’t really need to use a phone at work, we have an email culture so it works very well for me. I see things haven’t changed much in the last few years. Captioned telephony can’t come back to the UK soon enough.




9 responses

5 03 2009

How frustrating!!!!

5 03 2009

How annoying!

The last two times I have used Typetalk I have found it very difficult to get through as people refuse to listen to the operator explain the service and just put the phone down. It makes my blood boil!

6 03 2009

TT is dead meat, an outdated system, it is clear after years of extance it is still a complete lottery anyone will answer a call, most will just hang up on you because typetalk is unknown to them. Years of ‘awareness’ has not raised the TT profile one bit… not helped that the deaf won’t use it either !

6 03 2009

I don’t understand why using a Minicom would involve an intermediatery such as a TypeTalk operator? What should happen is a direct connection between each Minicom and all communication is done with text. No speaking at either end and no third party involved but slow of course as you must type everything..

6 03 2009

IanG – I would need to use Typetalk to phone a minicom number as my phone isn’t a minicom. I use a Geemarc screenphone which looks like an ordinary phone but also has a screen for text to show. I have to speak into the phone, I don’t have a keyboard to type my calls. To use the screenphone or textphone, I have to use the Typetalk service.

Geemarc screenphone

7 03 2009

Oh I see, didn’t think of it like that as I have at work a phone with a 2 line display and keyboard. Never bothered getting the voice out bit going so just type stuff in. Problem is as our commentator MM will testify, many many people simply hang up when the Typetalk announcement starts. I still think that if you have a hearing loss and not a speaking problem, anyone calling, whatever system is in use will have to go via a third party. That is the difficulty. Until we get the technology that can convert anyone’s voice to text we will be stuck with the same issues. Unfortunately.

7 03 2009

I take it you haven’t tried Captel? I had that for a year and it was fantastic, the closest to instant speech to text software that I have seen. I fooled 99% of people into thinking I was a hearing person calling them up. It works differently from Typetalk. We are trying to get it back into the UK – more info on the blog’s Telephone Campaign page.

12 03 2009

I used to be able to hear over the phone but after contracting Menieres, Im now totally deaf. Typetalk is a miserable experience and I have to joke about it, otherwise I will crack up.

Thank god for email etc.. the sooner Captel comes over here the better!!!


15 03 2009

Bluesky – I’m glad you can still joke about it 🙂 Deaf people really need a sense of humour don’t they, to cope with the Quality services they get!

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