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TAXIS BY TEXT; Special mobile service gets deaf passengers on the move.

Byline: By SANDY McKENZIE

A NEW scheme to help deaf and hard of hearing people live more independent lives has been launched in Middlesbrough.

The Middlesbrough Deaf Centre has teamed up with Blue Line Taxis to help deaf people get out and about - without needing to rely on friends and relatives to make taxi bookings for them.

They can now send a text message to the taxi operator through a dedicated number - 0795 873 0076 - and request a taxi.

Blue Line Taxis respond by text to say when the taxi will arrive.

The service is available round the clock, seven days a week.

Gill Marshall, co-ordinator at Middlesbrough Deaf Centre, said: "It may seem a very simple idea but this is a real breakthrough for deaf and hard of hearing people. They can choose when they want to call a taxi."

Valerie Nunn, who uses the deaf centre, said: "It's fantastic! I can now book a taxi myself. I don't need to rely on other people. When the taxi arrives, the driver rings my mobile phone and it vibrates, so I know that the taxi is waiting outside."

Another user, Maria Silver, said: "The text back is great. I know they have received the booking. All the taxi drivers have been very helpful and friendly."

Jav Ramzan, manager of Blue Line Taxis, said: "This is the first time I have been involved with a text messaging service, and it has really taken off well.

"The service we are providing has given deaf people independence and confidence to contact a taxi direct."

Jan Brunton, Middlesbrough Council's Executive member for social care and health, said: "Congratulations to the council staff and Blue Line for teaming up and improving the quality of life for many people in the town."

CAPTION(S):

It's fantastic! I can now book a taxi myself. I don't need to rely on other people. When the taxi arrives, the driver rings my mobile phone and it vibrates, so I know that the taxi is waiting outside - Valerie Nunn, pictured above with Jav Ramzan of Blue Line Taxis Picture by DAVE CHARNLEY
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 7, 2007
Words:352
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