The following guide is the product of considerable work by the NDA, ComReg, the telecommunications sector including both fixed-line and mobile operators, and representative disability organisations including:

  • BT Communications Ireland
  • eircom Ltd
  • 3 Mobile
  • Meteor
  • Vodafone Ireland
  • O2 Communications Ireland
  • People with Disabilities in Ireland
  • Disability Federation of Ireland
  • NCBI (National Council for the Blind)
  • National Association for Deaf People

The NDA and ComReg also wish to thank Inclusion Ireland and Mencap for their assistance in producing this booklet.

The NDA and ComReg would like to thank all participants for their contribution, and wish to recognise that the guide represents a joint effort by all concerned.

What this guide is about

This guide tells you about all the different ways you can use phones in Ireland. We call the different ways services. You can get phones from lots of different phone companies. They all offer different services. At the end of this guide we will tell you how to phone or email the phone companies. You can ask the phone companies if they sell the services you like.

Useful phone services

Some phone services use text messages.

Text messages

You can use a mobile phone to write a message and then send it to someone. This is called a text message. Some people call a text message an SMS which means Short Message Service.

SMS to speech

This is a service that changes text messages into words that you can hear. This is good if you find it hard to read a mobile phone screen.


When people leave a voice message, a textphone turns it into a text message. This means you can read the text message. Textphones are good for people who have trouble hearing. An example of a text phone service is minicom.

Text relay service

This is for people with a textphone. If you have a text relay service you can send a text message to other textphones.

Delivery reports

When you send someone a text message, you can get a text message back to your mobile phone. This is called a delivery report. The text message tells you if the person gets your message. This is a free service. You can get this service on mobile phones. You can switch this service on and off.

Third generation phone

This is a phone with a screen that lets you use the internet, or look at film or video. Sometimes third generation phones are called 3G.

Video calling

Video calling works if a person with a 3G phone is calling someone else with a 3G phone. It means they can see each other on their phones while they are speaking.

Directory enquiries

If you do not know someoneís phone number, you can look for it in a phone book. You can also phone directory enquiries. The people at directory enquiries will tell you the phone number you are looking for. This service is available on both mobile an landline phones.

Free directory enquiries

Normally you have to pay for directory enquiries. Some phone companies will give free directory enquiries to people with disabilities who cannot use a phone book.

Useful features of home phones and mobile phones

Features are things that may make your mobile phone or home phone easier to use. A home phone is sometimes called a landline or fixed-line phone.

Large keys

Keys are the part of the phone with the numbers on. Some phones have large keys. You can also get keys that

  • have more space between the numbers
  • have a dip in them where you can put your finger
  • have a dot over the number 5

These things all make phones easier to use for people who find it hard to see or hard to use small keys.


A hands-free phone is a phone that you do not have to hold. It has a microphone and a loudspeaker so you can speak and hear. This is good for people who find it hard to hold a phone.

Hearing-aid compatible

A hearing aid is something you put in your ear when you find it hard to hear. It helps you hear better. Phones that are hearing-aid compatible work with hearing-aids. They make it easier to hear the phone. If you have a hearing-aid you have to switch it to the place marked T.


Some phones can be used with an earpiece or headset. Headsets allow you to move around while you are speaking on the phone. An earpiece fits over your ear and lets you hear phone calls. A headset fits over your head. It has an earpiece to let you hear and a microphone to let you speak. You can get a headset for a landline or a mobile phone.

Some earpieces and headsets are on a wire which you plug into your phone.

You can get a headset called a wireless headset which uses Bluetooth. Bluetooth lets you listen and speak. Bluetooth does not have a wire. You do not need to plug in Bluetooth.

Voice output

Mobile phones have information on the screen that tells you how to use them. This is called a menu. Some mobile phones have voice output. This means a voice in the phone tells you what is in the menu.

Voice output is good for people who find it hard to read small words on the screen of the phone.


Volume means how loud the phone is. Some phones are louder than others. You can change most phones to make them louder or quieter.

Text messaging

You can send text messages from all mobile phones. You can send them from some home phones as well.


messaging (MMS) A multimedia message is a message with video, sound or photographs. Some mobile phones can do this. A multimedia message is called MMS.

Text size

Text size means the size of the words on the screen of the phone. Some phones have larger screens that make words bigger. Some let you change the size of the words. This makes it easier to see and to read.

Display screen contrast

Contrast means the difference between light and dark. If a screen has good contrast it means you can see it well. Some phones have better contrast than others. You can make the screen on your phone brighter or darker and this will make it easier to see.

Backlit keypad

The keypad is the part of the phone with the numbers on it. If it is backlit it means it lights up. This makes it easier to see the numbers in the dark.

Voice dialling

This means you can phone someone just by speaking their name into the phone. First you have to enter the personís name and number into the memory of the phone.

Quick dial keys

Quick dial keys let you call people by just pressing one key. You can do this on a landline phone or a mobile phone. First you have to put the personís name and number into the memory of the phone.

Some phones have keys for important numbers like the doctor or gardaŪ. They have pictures on so you know what they are.

Quick dial keys are good for people who find it hard to remember phone numbers.

Flashing indicator

A flashing indicator is a light that flashes when the phone is ringing, when you have missed a call or if you have a text message.

Vibration function

This means the phone moves when it is ringing or when you have a text message. It does not make a noise. This is good if you do not want the phone to make a noise. If you can not hear well you can switch this function on and off.

Useful broadband internet services

Broadband is a faster way of getting the internet. If you have broadband you can use more services on the internet.

Internet calling

This means you can make a phone call through your computer if you have the right software. You have to have a microphone so you can speak. If you have a webcam you can make video calls. A webcam is a camera on your computer. You can also send text messages.

More about internet calling

There are lots of cheap phone services. Some internet calling services are Skype, Yahoo Voice and Google Talk.

Instant messaging

Instant messaging is like talking to someone but with words. They write to you and you can write back straight away. Then they write back again. You usually have instant messaging on a computer. You can also get it on some mobile phones. Most instant messaging services are free. Some instant messaging services are MSN Messenger, AIM, ICQ and Yahoo Messenger.


An email is an electronic message that is sent over the internet. You need an email account to be able to send messages. You can get an email account on the internet. Most email accounts are free. Some email accounts are Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Hotmail.

Reading bills and other information

If you find it hard to read printed words, there are other ways you can get information.

Other bill types

You can get your bill in different ways. You might be able to get your bill

  • in large print
  • in Braille
  • on a CD or tape
  • by email on the website of the company that gives you your phone service

Online access to services

Some phone companies let you change to another service by going to their website and some phone companies let you order a new service by going to their website.

Customer support

Customer support means when the phone company gives you help to use your phone.

Set-up assistance

This means you can get help to use your new phone.

User guides

When you buy a new phone you get a book called a user guide with it. The user guide tells you how to use the phone. If you need the user guide in a different way you should contact the phone company. They can tell you if they have the information you need.

Help with paying for your phone

There are different ways of paying for your phone.

Lots of phone companies have bundles or packages. This means you pay for different services together. You might get some kinds of calls free.

Bundles or packages are harder to understand than paying for each call but they can be cheaper.

The Telephone Allowance

Some people are entitled to the Telephone Allowance. The Department of Social and Family Affairs is in charge of the Telephone Allowance. Contact them to see if you can get help paying for your phone. They can tell you how to apply for the Telephone Allowance.

We tell you how to contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs at the end of this guide.

Free calls

Some phone companies sell packages that let you make free calls to people who use the same phone company.

Free equipment

When you pay for your phone you might get extra parts free or cheap. For example, a headset to use with the phone.

SMS Bundles

This means you pay for lots of text messages at once. It is cheaper than paying for each one.

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