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My Options web chat to be rolled out after concerns over phone line from disability campaigners

The new service should be in place by April.

Image: Shutterstock/nelen

A WEB CHAT service for the HSE’s MyOptions.ie site will be rolled out by the end of April. 

It is understood the web chat service on the website will be made available following on from representations from the Deaf community. 

Disability campaigners raised concerns about the HSE’s My Options crisis pregnancy hotline not being accessible to people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing earlier this year. 

On 1 January, My Options, a free unplanned pregnancy support service which serves as a first point of contact for women dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, was launched.

The service offers counselling and and information for those dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Information on continued pregnancy supports and abortion options are offered.

As part of the service, the HSE launched a new website – myoptions.ie - for women to visit for information on supports and services, as well as My Options freephone helpline (1800 828 010). 

Deaf community 

However as soon as the hotline was announced disability campaigners noted that there are no alternative contact details for people who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, meaning they would have to rely on a friend, family member or voice-into-text relay service to access the hotline’s professional counsellors.

“Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are being left behind,” Caroline McGrotty, a coordinator with the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability (AHEAD) said. 

At the time, the HSE said it was working to make the hotline accessible for Deaf people through additional channels “as soon as possible”. 

Developing the live chat service on the website has now commenced, with plans to have it up and running by the end of this quarter. 

Ads on public transport and radio 

In addition, the My Options unplanned pregnancy marketing and information campaign has commenced this week, and will run until 24 March.

This will include advertising in washrooms at colleges and retail spaces from this week, as well as radio adverts running from next week.  

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