Bell plans to launch wireless rate plan for deaf and hard of hearing customers

Ian Hardy

February 29, 2016 3:10pm

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandates wireless carriers in Canada to offer at least one mobile handset to people who are “blind and/or have moderate to severe mobility or congitive disabilities.” Today, Bell has added a full portfolio of products to service this market.

Specifically honing in on those with “speech, cognitive, physical, hearing and vision related disabilities,” the company has added a dedicated section to its website aimed at helping individuals find a device that meets their specific accessibility needs.

Visit Bell’s website and you’ll find a number of accessibility focussed devices, such as the Doro 824 and Doro 824C, that feature larger buttons, icons, text, as well as hearing aid compatibility and a dedicated emergency button.

bell accessibility

“Nearly 14 percent of Canadians 15 and older live with a disability and often face barriers that limit accessibility to the many benefits of mobile technology,” said Blaik Kirby, president of Bell Mobility in a statement to MobileSyrup. “Bell is helping break down these barriers with our leading lineup of accessible products tailored to meet the needs of all our customers.”

In addition, Bell offers the Mobile Accessibility app for free, which enables blind and low vision customers the option to have the app read out loud what’s happening on their display. It’s currently only available on Android.

Finally, Bell says in the coming months it plans to introduce a dedicated wireless rate plan for Canadians “that are deaf or hard of hearing.” There’s no indication of how much the plan will cost or the specific features that will be included in it.

Source Bell
  • EP_2012

    Now if they could make these plans more affordable for people with disabilities (who are often forced to pay for medical services and supplies), that would be awesome.

  • KrispyInTO

    Deaf people should have discounted plans because they don’t use voice calls/minutes.

    • Yes. Their called data plans

    • Rogers has data plans which include SMS, which is very useful for hearing-impaired customers. Other carriers have data-only plans as well, but as far as I know, they’re all meant for tablet use and don’t include SMS.

    • disqus_vPnVddwEMi

      And if they sold data-only plans to people with smartphones, people without disabilities would push to also get them. I’d bet this is why Bell haven’t offered them yet.

    • No carrier would want to do that, for ARPU’s sake. They will likely make some sort of plan that is restricted but slightly less in cost or similar in cost to regular plans. Which will make you want to get a regular plan regardless.

      Like the Rogers Doro or Dara phones. Making elderly pay $40 plus a month for $20 plan

    • RoboBonobo

      As far as I can tell, their current data-only plans charge you like $0.20 to $0.50 per text message, which wouldn’t be a fair rate for someone who is using it as their main method of communication.
      I think what they’ll offer is a plan with included texts/data and pay-per-use voice minutes; which is something that is distinct from the data plans they currently offer people for tablets.

  • El Capitan Morgan

    Bell’s rate is so high that it would eventually deafen and blind us all.

  • danbob333

    “Finally, Bell says “in the coming months” it plans to introduce a dedicated wireless rate plan for Canadians “that are deaf or hard of hearing.” ”

    So, they will launch a data-only, aka “tablet” plan. How innovative.

  • Jack

    Bell does not care about people with disabilities.
    They just found a volunerable segment of people they can easily scam!

  • I remember before they caught on, data only plans could be used for calling and texting if you put them in a phone. Beautiful error that they caught on to too soon.

    They will likely do something like what you mentioned with Rogers. Focus on data and text with a new pricing category.

    The strange part is, how will they know about someones disability? I don’t think you are allowed to ask or pry if told and you don’t believe it.

  • somebody else

    Hmm, is it going to offer unlimited data and just SMS, or TTY enabled voice service without the TTY device? What about blind-deaf users? Limbless users that are blind, deaf, or blind-deaf? Sheesh. I can see allot more getting ribbed for this, and the costs won’t be any different.