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DAC remains in regular contact with Ofcom, both formal meetings and informal conversations. They remain committed to the issues we are raising and are being supportive in a number of ways.
Sandra met with Chris Taylor, Director of Consumer Policy, last week. As a result Ofcom are exploring ways they can continue to support a piece of work DAC are going to lead on to undertake a thorough analysis of a VRS delivery model and the impact it might have on all stakeholders. More detail to follow in the New Year.
Many of you will have seen the research Ofcom published this week on international provision of VRS; it contains some very useful information.
Ofcom are tendering at the moment for the user experience research around text relay; once the tender has been agreed both Ofcom and the researchers will need our support in contacting users and in providing responses to some of the questions.
Finally Ofcom remain supportive of the ‘voluntary initiative’ DAC are leading on VRS but equally they are clear the regulatory route (of which a consultation will be the start) remains on the table if our initiative loses traction.
BT have responded to our email following a meeting with Warren Buckley at the end of October. Sandra is due to meet Fiona Miller in the New Year, as well as visit the current relay provision in Liverpool. BT are well aware of our perspective of NGTR (or NGTS as they are now calling it) and are committed to engaging. Their priority at the moment is to secure a supplier for the service. Sandra will be able to feedback following her meetings in the New Year.
E-Accessibility Forum Sub Group
This group met yesterday and the mood continues to be positive; some clear actions have been agreed and DAC continue to lead efforts to put in place a plan that leads to delivery of VRS. Encouraging signs included a recognition that delivery of VRS is also going to enable delivery of other services that meet a wider group’s needs (e.g. text supporting audio). We also heard that the Minister, Ed Vaizey, is keen to write to business in the New Year, encouraging them to make VRS available for their customers to contact them. A number of streams of work were identified that need to be looked at:
- access to emergency services
- quality, standards, supply and provision in relation to interpreters
- the user perspective
- wider engagement with Government departments who are likely to be purchasers of VRS
- continuation of the work between the telcos and relay providers to develop the market and infrastructure – further workshop on the 18th January, hosted by Ofcom, led by DAC
It is really important that users are able to directly influence a number of these initiatives. So the plan is to hold a consumer workshop in February / March 2013 to update users on developments, explore the views people have of current services, how they use technology and what they would like to see in place. Detailed conversations are needed with a number of people to make this happen and work will start in earnest in the New Year.