After a time of change beyond belief, I am only now returning to this blog that I set up so enthusiastically in January. My intention remains to share ways of coping with profound deafness and to explore the comparatively new Text Relay Service [Next Generation Text Service], which is delivered via the NGT Lite app.
But since those early days my life has changed. In February my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he died just four short weeks later. I nursed him at home until almost the end. I knew that I might need to call an ambulance. But using NGT Lite with a laptop can be a bit ‘clunky’ – for one thing, you have to boot up before you can start. This takes time, and it also means that it is difficult for other folk to ring me. The obvious solution was to get a mobile phone that was compatible with the app. Alas, it did not occur to me that my mobile network would cause insurmountable problems.
I got a small Android phone, downloaded the NGT Lite app and tried to set it up and tried to make a call. But it just would not work with my then network (Talk Mobile). After several web ‘chats’ with their Customer Service folk, it emerged that calls made via the app were blocked, because they needed an access code (18001 to call someone who is hearing, 18000 to call the emergency services) in front of the regular number. Their system classified these access codes as a premium service. I would therefore be expected to pay a premium rate. I queried this:
“What?” I said, “even to call an ambulance?”
“Yes, Jill,” I was told, and fobbed off with words to the effect that as it was a service ‘bought in’ the customer would be expected to pay to make any call via NGT. As far as they were concerned, that was that. I declined to pay a premium rate for phone calls of any kind and returned the phone to them.
My husband’s condition worsened by the day. When finally an ambulance was needed, a Hospicare nurse was in the house and made all the arrangements – he was admitted to a hospice, where he died just 30 hours later.
Now, nearly three months after his passing, I have changed network and have an Android phone that works. (Better late than never, one could say?) And it is my intention to make sure that all mobile networks that operate in the UK know about the Next Generation Text Service and offer it on equal terms as regular ‘hearing’ use of a telephone. Calls made via the NGT Lite app should be part of the ‘inclusive minutes’ in a contract. I hope that might be my husband’s legacy so that no one else is ever told to pay a premium rate to call an ambulance.