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Video Transcript

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It's my life and my call


My name's Geoff Scott. This is my piece of art.

It's a self-portrait.

This is a box I've made.

Do you want to know what's inside?

Do you really want to know what's inside the box?


I'll show you.


Geoff's a painter and a sculptor.

His work is influenced by his life and experience of discrimination.

Geoff's been deaf since birth

and learned to communicate using sign language.

But when he started school, he was forced to try and speak.

INTERPRETER: It was a massive shock for all of us growing up in the '70s when the teacher said,
out of the blue,

"We want to challenge you, and we want you to change.

"You need to become like us."

And we felt like it was a war against deaf people.

They wanted us to use the telephone, which was ridiculous.

Because how can deaf people use a telephone?


I'd be watching the TV knowing that the phone was ringing, but I couldn't answer it.

GEOFF: OK. Good.

This is my father here.

He's getting older now, so I look after him.

Geoff knew he was going to need outside help to support his elderly father.

Phone communication would be critical.

Telstra provides phones to all subscribers as part of the rental, but Geoff needed a TTY, or teletypewriter.

Unlike everyone else, he was expected to pay $700 for a service others take for granted.

This machine allows me to contact the National Relay Service.

Geoff's phone connects with the national deaf relay call centre.

A hearing person relays the conversation.

Good morning. This is the National Relay Service here.

Can I have the number that you'd like to dial, please?

Telstra wouldn't provide him with a TTY, and that complaint...

An attempt was made to investigate and conciliate the complaint.

That was unsuccessful.

And so it went to a hearing,

and it was determined that Telstra would, in the same way that they provided people with telephones, have to provide
people who are deaf with a TTY.

The great thing about this story is that Telstra have learned and have changed their process.

And now they're involved with them sharing the cost and, partly with government funding,

providing around 30,000 TTYs to people throughout Australia.

It's 17 years since Geoff won his complaint with Telstra.

Now thousands of deaf Australians are able to make phone calls.