The main problem with being deaf is, and I know this sounds silly, that you can’t hear things. One thing that is especially difficult to hear is someone over a telephone. To make matters worse, you cannot lipread a telephone. Even then it is all pretty variable: one person will come over clearly and another sounds like a succession of muffled “meows”. People think in terms of loudness (and some is needed) but the main problem isn’t volume but clarity.
I use all sorts of modern technology to help. The latest hearing aids from the NHS are so much better than anything I have had before that I feel churlish when I say that they still do little more than deal with the easier situations where there is no background noise and no echo. My Contego which Marcia and I use in our daily life is wonderful for one-on-one but no good in company. Email me for details of this system if you ant to know more – usual address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, you are a writer and a communicator and still a bit of a political activist and you are deaf. That means, or at least this is how I read it, that you have a duty to do what you can for deaf people who are not writers, not communicators, not political activists and have little option but to put up with the problems deafness brings. One of those problems is dealing with big companies and the one I am concerned with today is my bank: the Royal Bank of Scotland.
For all its faults and failings and the problems it has faced in recent years, I have to say that I am totally happy with the RBS. I shall be pleased to see it morph in a new bank to be called William and Glynn in the near future (as itr is now almost certain to do) as that will be a bit of a home coming for me: I banked with the old Willam and Glynn forty odd years ago. I should add that I think their online banking is extremely good and I like the fact that the send a text to my mobile whenever I (or, of course, anyone else) does something unusual so that I can act swiftly if need be. If you need help on the RBS bankline, they have a chat box.
So I was extremely upset to receive a letter from the RBS Chatham Customer Service Centre which ignores the problems of the deaf. We have recently moved. Actually this is a bit over the top. When we moved I emailed our business bank manager and gave him the new address (which I confirmed in writing); then I emailed our private bank manager and gave her our new address (and confirmed that in writing); then I and Marcia each received two letters from Chatham (one to the old address and one to the new) with forms enclosed for us to return to confirm the change of address. To be fair, the RBS takes security very seriously. Now, I cannot imagine that many people need assistance when it comes to filling in these simple forms but in the letter you read this sentence.
If you would like any assistance, please call 0345 301 6075 and a member of our team will be happy to help.
The problem is that some deaf people can’t use the telephone (and some – I am one – find using text phones such as Minicom a total bore). This shouldn’t matter to those who are deaf and computerate because there are other ways of communicating. My favourites are emails and chat boxes. RBS, of course, offers both BUT THEY DON’T SAY SO IN THE LETTER. Why not? It would cost them nothing. So I have been moaning at them on Twitter and @RBS_Help has asked to see a copy of the letter. Click on the link below to see it.