How To Ensure Your Phone Hardware Is Equality Act Compliant - Birchills Blog
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How To Ensure Your Phone Hardware Is Equality Act Compliant

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The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations.

VoIP Hardware and disability

Everyone should be able to experience the many advantages VoIP phone systems can bring to their business. The advantages include reduced costs, simpler administration and amazing powerful features. A much more detailed list of these benefits can be found here.

But is IP or VoIP hardware suitable for those with disabilities? Well at Birchills we’ve done some research and are proud to say we can offer phone systems tailored to the needs of any disabled users.

Hearing aid compatibility (HAC)
HAC means that the phone has an inductive coupler inside, which will work with a user’s hearing aid to give a clearer sound than a phone without this capability. Several VoIP phones are now HAC opening up the world of VoIP to even more users. A list of HAC IP phones is below:

502G, 504G, CP-7811, CP-7821, CP-7841, CP-7861, CP-8811, CP-8841, CP-8845, CP-8851, CP-8861, CP-8865
DX800A, Maxwell 10
KX-UT113, KX-UT123, KX-UT133, KX-UT136
VVX101, VVX201, VVX300/301/310/311, VVX400/401/410/411, VVX500/501, VVX600/601
RTX8430, RTX8830
D305, D315, D715, D725, D765, D375, M65
VSP716A, VSP726A, VSP736A
T40PN*, T41PN*, T42GN*, T46GN*, T48GN, T41S, T42S, T46S, T48S

Bigger Button IP Phones
Some visually impaired users may require IP phones with larger  or clearer keypads. In general IP phone keypads tend to be a little on the smaller side however some manufacturers have taken this into account and more larger keypad IP phones are beginning to be produced. There are even some DECT big button IP phones available such as the Gigaset E560HX pictured below.

With illuminated buttons that can be selected accurately and a TFT color display with extra-large digits the E560HX ensure that users with impaired eyesight can also make optimum use of the device. The excellent acoustics with certified HD sound quality, hearing aid compatibility (HAC) and the “extra loud” button to double the handset’s volume means users can hear and be heard well at all times. And they’ll never miss a call again thanks to the visual alert by means of LED flashes.

Specialist IP phones

There is a very small corner of the VoIP IP phone market that is producing phones specifically tailored to older or less able users. Brands such as Dorro and Acuvox have produced specific models of phone with many additional features. For example, as well as having large buttons and being HAC these phones often have photo memory keys, louder ringers, alert lights, SOS keys as some even come with a wireless emergency Pendant which allows the user to call the emergency services whilst away from the phone itself with just the push of a single button. These phones do however tend to be a little on the pricier side.

ATA adapters and analogue phones

ATA adapters allow a standard analogue telephone to work with a VoIP system. They simply plug into the back of the phone and then in to the broadband. They are particularly useful for disabled users as allows a user to keep using the same phone they always have whilst implementing the power of a VoIP system.
The choice of specialist IP phones for disabled users is limited and very often quite pricey so an ATA is a cheap and handy way of using a specialist analogue on the new VoIP system.

Loud Ringers & Alert Lights

If a hard of hearing person is away from their desk or in a noisy environment it might be necessary to implement an external loud ringer or an alert light to show them that the phone is ringing. Again, there is VoIP equipment out there designed to do such a job however again an ATA paired with a traditional analogue bell may be an easier and cheaper option.

Text Messaging (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM) and Video Calling

VoIP technology has made huge leaps forward in recent times and now (provider dependent) users can also access instant messaging, SMS and video calling through their VoIP devices. This enables users to essentially choose which type of communication is easiest for them depending on their disability. Video for example may be a brilliant way to communicate using sign language to a person hard of hearing or IM may be best for someone who doesn’t know sign language to communicate with that same person.
VoIP access and door control

There are many VoIP door control systems and access panels available. Many of these now also incorporate video as well as intercom facilities and panels can also be mounted at low level for wheelchair users to access. This flexibility means that every part of your VoIP system can now be accessed by everyone.

If you're unsure which option may be best for your business then please just get in touch and we will be happy to assist

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