ELSA survey - Telephone bill discounts 1996

The following survey, carried out by the European League of Stutterng Associations, on telephone bill discounts highlights the situation in 1996. Time moves on at a rapid pace as does the telecommunications industry and indeed the disability movement.

The data is obviously time-marked but the conclusions which can be drawn are still of interest for the on-going discussion on whether or not national stuttering associations should lobby telephone companies for discounts.

Conclusions:

  • For the majority of national stuttering associations in Europe the questions of telelphone bill discounts did not seem to be a priority issue. Most of them did not even discuss the topic while others for various reasons decided not to engage in this question.
  • It is predictable that instead of discounts for the individual person who stutters lobbying telephone companies for social sponsoring (i.e. donations given to stuttering associations) will be the road to follow. One important reason for this is the fact that in virtually all countries the days of national telephone companies holding a monopoly of the telephone licenses are over. Now there is much competition on the telecommunication market which may increase the chances to win sponsors or funders for particular projects.

Questionnaires returned by (country/association):

  • A - Austria: Oesterreich-Selbsthilfe-Initiative fuer Stottern (OESIS)B - Belgium: V.Z.W.-BESTBG - Bulgaria: NASISD - Germany: Bundesvereinigung Stotterer-Selbsthilfe E - Spain/Baleares: Balearic Association of Stutterers F - France: Association Parole-B‚gaiement (A.P.B.)FIN - Finland: SAEY-FSFIRE - Ireland: Irish Stammering Association (ISA)NL - The Netherlands: DemosthenesN - Norway: Norsk Interesseorganisasjon for Stamme (NIFS)LIT - Lithuania: Lithuanian Stuttering Problems ClubS - Sweden: Svensk Stammningsfoereningars Riksfoerbund (SSR)
  • UK - United Kingdom: British Stammering Association (BSA)

1.1 Do people in your country with communication disorders such as stuttering get a discount on telephone charges?

  • A - Yes B - No BG - No D - Yes F - No E - No FIN - No IRE - No NL - No N - No LIT - No S - Yes
  • UK - No

1.2 If people who stutter get a discount on telephone charges -

a) to what extent?
b) under what conditions?

Austria:
50% of telephone charges are tax-deductible if the person who stutters is recognised as having a 30% lack of working capacity
Germany:
No standing charge for people recognised as being disabled; however, the degree of disability must be 90% at least which is virtually never the case with a stutter.
Sweden:
No discount on telephone bills yet but a person who stutter can receive two free text-telephones, one for himself and the second one for another person.

1.3 If not, have any reasons been given for this?

Bulgaria:
In Bulgaria there is political and economic chaos. Bulgarian Telecommunication Company does not have the appropriate stability and legal basis to support NGOs like ours.
Spain:
Up to today, in Spain there is only one telephone company without any competitors, however, in two years Spain will allow new companies to enter the market which means more competition and new fees.
France:
Too many ministers (secretaries) have succeeded one another, all of them promised a lot...
UK:
The main telephone company (BT) says that it would be very difficult to combat fraud.

2.1 Does/did your national stuttering association lobby for reduced telephone rates for people who stutter?

  • A - No B - No BG - No D - Yes F - A.P.B.: No - AFB/Association Francaise des Bègues made a first appeal in 1977E - No FIN - No IRE - No LIT - No NL - No N - No S - Yes
  • UK - No

2.1.1 If so, what actions have been/will be taken, and what were your experiences/results?

Germany:
In a letter the BV tried to draw the German Telekom's attention to the discrimination against people who stutter. No response so far.
France:
AFB spoke and wrote to various politicians many times which resulted into promises only.
Sweden:
Lobbying was done through the Swedish national organisation of disability associations. For results see #1.2 2.1.2 Have you been supported by any of your country's national disability umbrella organizations?
Germany:
Yes
France:
No - there are no such organizations in France
Sweden:
Yes - see #2.2


2.1.3 Did you establish contact with politicians, and did you get support from them?


Germany:
No
France:
Contact yes, but no help at all
Sweden:
No, since this has been handled by the Swedish national organisation of disability associations


2.2 If your national stuttering association does/did NOT lobby for reduced telephone rates, why did they not?


Austria:
So far, there was no initiative to deal with the problem
Belgium:
Our Association has been existing for one year only. One of our tasks in the future should be to establish contact with the National disability umbrella association to ask how we can lobby for reduced telephone rates.
France:
APB prefers to save their energies for activities concerning prevention and information, and training of therapists and researchers.
Finland:
The Finnish Association is discussing the subject right now. Perhaps we can report on that later this year.
Ireland:
The ISA is still in very early stages.
Lithuania:
Nobody of our association had such a good idea...
Netherlands:
We have never been engaged with this subject actively.
Norway:
This topic has not been on the agenda so far. We will, however, start discussing it.
UK:
This matter was discussed at our General Committee meeting of December 1994. There were three reasons why the Committee did not support the idea:
a) The discount might discourage the persuit of fluency;
b) It would be hard to agree which stammerers should qualify (what measure and degree of severity);
c) practical problems (ie: non-stammering members of family could use the phone at a discount

3. Remarks
Austria:
We like the idea, it is worth being persued.
Bulgaria:
We think we can eventually succeed in our relationship with Bulgarian Telecommunication Company in the future. They sponsored our brochure "Using the Telephone - Guidance for People Who Stammer".
France:
We estimate that only 10% out of all stutterers would be eligible for reduced rates. PWS would have to apply for a reduction, and a commission of therapists would then have to decide if the stutterer can be cured or not. To ask for a discount means to admit that stuttering cannot be cured. In addition, some severe stutterers do not care at all about their disability. The Association Francaise des BŠgues asked the French telecommunication company to sponsor the AFB.
Germany:
The BV currently discusses changing directions and concentrating on lobbying the German Telekom for social sponsorship rather than discounts on telephone bills for the individual stutterers.
Ireland:
We are a new organization but this may well be a subject we will become involved with.
Lithuania:
We have a lot of serious economical and social problems in our country. We assume our government would not pay attention to the idea of reduced telephone rates for stutterers.
Sweden:
The question of reduced telephone rates for stutterers has not been a major issue for the SSR.

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