The technology company behind software that enables those with hearing impairments to call, is challenging Manx Telecom’s explanation regarding the discontinuation of the service.

Goshawk Communications, the name of the technology provider at the time, worked with Manx Telecom to create this world’s first calling experience for people with hearing loss.

The software clearSound enables users to set personalised preferences which enhances the frequencies that they struggle with to create a clearer calling experience. In last week’s Examiner, Manx Telecom made a statement that the discontinuation of clearSound was because of a breakdown in relationship with the provider.

Matthew Turner, chief executive officer of Goshawk International, the technology company, disputes this, and said: ‘I think the response that Manx Telecom has shared with you is misleading. My view is that we should try and work together and create some kind of collaboration or understanding to help people who are disadvantaged. For me, it’s particularly important as a deaf person.

‘As far as I’m aware, there is no commercial dispute.

‘There’s just a difference of opinion. I’ve offered the technology for free, if there are other supplies in the Isle of Man as well who want the technology, they can have it free.’

Goshawk International is a Hertfordshire-based company. After developing the technology with Cambridge University, Mr Turner decided to bring the software to fruition in the island.

He said: ‘The advantage with the Isle of Man is it’s a very compact and representative society, which also meant we had access to a few key decision makers. I t was easier to work with the various actors on a smaller scale. I was then introduced to someone at Manx Telecom, who at the time were trying to expand, and we created clearSound.’

At this time, Goshawk Communications was renamed Audacious, which provided the technology. Manx Telecom had shares in the company. In 2019, when Manx Telecom was bought over by Basalt, a private equity firm, it withdrew its shares. The company was liquidated in 2020.

Manx Telecom reiterated its position.

A spokesman said: ‘While Manx Telecom regrets the discontinuation of clearSound for its users, following the closure of the UK operation Audacious in 2020 we have been in dispute with the technology owner and provider and unfortunately it is no longer possible to continue with this service.

‘We can confirm there is a range of alternative products available to support the hard of hearing, including voice to text mobile applications and amplified handsets for both fixed lines and mobile use.

‘Manx Telecom now has a range of these devices available in-store and we will be forwarding details to all those who have been sent a clearSound withdrawal letter.’ Mr Turner said: ‘People fall out for different reasons, that’s fine, however, it isn’t fair to penalise those who have a disability because of it. There have been no issues with the technology for the past four years, and we are offering it free.’

He added: ‘In Manx Telecom’s statement, they said there are alternative products, but there aren’t any, if there were, there wouldn’t have been a need for clearSound in the first place. By removing access to clearSound, this can and will undermine both an individual’s ability to communicate and potentially aggravate matters of isolation, depression and difficulty in reaching family, friends and other important contacts such as social or medical services.

‘This is not just about voice; it is about the wider, deeper need to communicate and be heard and be part of a more inclusive and diversified society.’