Are you stuck in a mobile phone contract and want to move now rather than wait until the contract expires? Do you have hearing loss? This may be of interest.
Various people have been in touch to ask us if we know what their rights are. The reason specifically has been connect to their wish to move to Audacious, the new service for people with hearing loss.
You may know about the work we’ve done with Audacious. It is the first-ever service to offer people with hearing loss the opportunity to personalise the sound coming through the mobile handset so it specifically matches your hearing profile. The result for most people is clearer sounding calls.
We were involved in the work to test the technology and to check it delivers good results. Although not everyone benefits from the service (because hearing and deafness is so varied and complex), the clinical trials suggest that most people can do.
With that in mind, we are now pleased to share the following guidance that sets out your options if you are in a contract but want to move. It has been put together by Audacious and is founded on the protections offered to people with deafness under the Equality Act.
Template letters: We can provide template email/letters to those who would like to switch to Audacious but are currently locked into a SIM contract. The templates are simply to assist you – but you can, if you prefer, write your own email/letter, or adapt the template.
If you have a SIM and handset deal, you will still need to continue paying for your handset, but you should be released from the SIM aspect of your contract.
The process: You should ask your mobile phone provider if they can provide a similar service to Audacious for customers with hearing loss. You should do this in writing so that there is a record of the request. If the mobile provider responds to say they cannot do this, then you can ask to be released from their SIM contract (we have template letters/emails available to assist).
The legal reason: if your hearing loss or deafness is such that you would be defined as ‘disabled’ under the Equality Act 2010, then service providers have a duty to provide reasonable adjustment to enable you are not placed at a disadvantage compared with a non-disabled person. Asking your mobile phone provider to let you break the SIM contract early could be seen as ‘reasonable adjustment’.
If you receive a negative response from your provider, you can contact Audacious and we will do our best to help. We will need to see exactly what your mobile provider has said though – so do keep copies of the correspondence.
You can get in touch with Audacious at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about mobile phone contracts and the Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act defines ”indirect disability discrimination” as occurring when:
- a provision, criterion or practice is applied to all, and:
- it puts a group with a protected characteristic at a disadvantage when compared with another group.
- an individual with the protected characteristic personally experiences the disadvantage
- the organisation cannot show it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim
An organisation is under a duty to make a reasonable adjustment when indirect disability discrimination occurs. There are three types of reasonable adjustments:
- Changing a Provision, Criteria or Practice (PCP): Policies, practices and “how things are done”. e.g. permitting assistance dogs into a space which otherwise does not allow dogs or allowing disabled people to avoid a queue.
- Physical features: Anything about a built environment which causes disadvantage. e.g. steps, lighting [arguably poor acoustics and uncomfortable noise levels]
- Provision of an auxiliary aid or service: Equipment, items, or human support e.g. speech-to-text transcription services, hearing loops and other audio equipment
If you have hearing loss or deafness, which can be a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010, there is potentially scope to approach your mobile phone provider to request they change a provision, criteria or practice. In effect this could mean that instead of your mobile phone provider insisting that you complete your SIM contract, they could allow you to break the SIM contract without penalties.
NOTE: You would still have to pay for your handset if you have a SIM/handset deal.