Software Speaks Volumes to Hearing Impaired

Posted By JOHN VESSOYAN/Tribune Staff
May 5, 2010

JOHN VESSOYAN Staff Photo — Enza Iovio, left, a general support service counsellor with the Canadian Hearing Society, and Russ Findlay, chairman of Welland’s accessibility advisory committee, test the new TextNet software that has been installed at Welland Civic Square.

WELLAND — Accessing information just got easier for Wellanders who have hearing impairments.

The installation of new software called TextNet at Welland Civic Square allows deaf or hard of hearing citizens to communicate with municipal government employees by using their computers instead of struggling to get their message across over the telephone or in person.

By simply logging onto the city’s website, www.welland.ca, residents can access the new software and send a message to city hall which goes directly to the switchboard. The receptionist will then read the message and direct it to the department or person who can best answer the question or deal with the issue brought forth.

Once on the website, click on the Contact link, then click on the TextNet link to start typing your message.

Russ Findlay said this new software represents great news for locals who struggle with hearing.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for three years. When you’re doing accessibility, one size doesn’t fit all. We’ve looked at different systems for
three years and we decided this was the best route to go,” Findlay said Tuesday morning.

“And looking at it this morning for the first time, it seems to work wonderfully. It’s extremely important for people in Welland who are deaf or hard of
hearing.”

Findlay, who has been the chair of Welland’s accessibility advisory committee for the past eight years, said this project was high on the group’s priority
list.

“One of the things people have to realize is that when you’re talking about accessibility, you’re not only talking about people in wheelchairs — people
in wheelchairs are sort of the poster children for accessibility — but accessibility also includes people who are deaf or hard of hearing, people who are
blind, people who are intellectually disabled,” he explained.

“You tend to forget there are other people who need services and people who are deaf or hard of hearing need to be able to access services.”

Richard Morwald, the city’s manager of recreation and cultural services, echoed Findlay’s thoughts about the software, saying TextNet will serve the public well for years to come.

“It’s very user friendly. It’s easy to get in touch with city staff and receive information,” he said.

“The TextNet feature offers citizens an alternate means to connect, communicate and interact with city hall.”

The new software cost the city $2,500.

jvessoyan@wellandtribune.ca

Reproduced from http://www.wellandtribune.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2563782&auth=JOHN%20VESSOYAN/Tribune%20Staff