Ruth Goode tells British Deaf News about a recent meeting with her groups local MP on the subject of deaf people communicating through a third party and the data protection issues which that entails.
On Friday 27th January, Stratford Upon Avon Deaf group invited their local MP, Nadhim Zahawi, to meet us to talk about Data Protection problems when using a third party. We explained our difficulties, as deaf people, of getting things sorted over the phone immediately using a third party such as an interpreter or family member.
For example, I received a letter from my mobile phone company asking me to call them urgently. I asked my son to call them but they refused to speak to him because he was not me! So I went to the Carphone Warehouse store where I bought my phone and he was more than happy to help me and made the call for me.
But unfortunately we had the same problem. They refused to talk to him because he was a third party. It was not their fault, they were only abiding by the data protection act which prevents them talking to a third party because of the risk of fraud. The manager in the shop had an idea and explained how to get it solved. He suggested to use a female member of staff who could pretend to be me and with my permission she called them and it went through with no problem at all and my problem was sorted. I felt angry that I couldn’t sort it out myself with a third party which would have made me feel more independent. I would prefer not to have to rely on a hearing person to pretend to be me. It is not right.
We had a deaf member’s brother attending the meeting and he explained his views as a third party. He explained his frustration when trying to help his deaf sister and her husband. He had tried to help them change their car insurance after they had got a new car. Obviously they couldn’t pick up the new car without insurance so in the end he pretended to be his brother-in-law and the problem was sorted. But he also felt it was wrong to have to do that.
Another member went to the Citizens Advice Bureau to sort out her benefits and they tried to call the office on her behalf but again they refused to talk to her. In the end they had to write a letter. The problem dragged on for few weeks when it would have been sorted straight away if she was hearing and could use the phone!
Nadhim agreed it needed to be addressed and he asked us to send him a short video of our stories with interpreter voice-over. He also hopes to meet with the BDA’s David Buxton in the hope that they can campaign together for a debate in Parliament on this important issue of improving our access with data protection using a third party.
BDN can today confirm that Nadhim Zahawi, MP, will meet the British Deaf Association at the House of Commons on 28th February to discuss this further.