Communications services for disabled people

Ofcom requires communications providers to provide a range of services designed to benefit disabled people, including:

Access to an approved 'next generation' text relay service for calls to and from hearing- or speech-impaired people, with special tariffs to compensate disabled customers for the additional time taken by these calls.  Next generation text relay can be accessed from mainstream equipment such as PCs, tablets and smartphones as well as from textphones. To find out more about this service, visit RelayUK or see Ofcom's consumer guide.

Access to emergency SMS (mobile only) by using the emergency call numbers “112” and “999” at no charge for hearing or speech impaired people who need to contact the emergency services.  To use this service, text ‘register’ to 999 or 112.  Registration only takes around a minute, so it is possible to register in an emergency, but advance registration is strongly recommended. For more information visit RelayUK.

Access to free directory enquiries with through-connection of calls for people who are unable to use a printed directory because of a disability.

Priority fault repair (for landline and broadband but not mobile) for any disabled person who has a genuine need for an urgent repair. Charges for this must not exceed the provider’s standard charge for a fault repair service.

Third-party bill management for any disabled customer, enabling a nominated friend or relative to act on their behalf in relation to bill management.

Communications relating to communications services in a reasonably acceptable format such as large print and Braille. This is on request from a customer who needs such a format because of their disability.

Articles for the Blind is a free postal service for blind and visually impaired people that Royal Mail must provide which waives all costs for sending:

  • Books, printed materials, letters, relief maps
  • Audio and electronic media
  • Equipment such as magnifiers and mobility aids.

You need to register in advance for some of these services - please contact your communications provider or Royal Mail for information about how to do this. Communications providers are required to publicise the services that are available for disabled people.

The UK Regulators Network (UKRN) has also published advice on the extra help available to older, ill, or disabled people when using services such as gas, electricity, water, phones and public transport.