DEAF people have been invited to apply for subsidies on fax machines to help enhance their social life and call for help in an emergency. The Hongkong Council of Social Service yesterday announced that around one per cent of the 60,000 people with hearing disabilities could benefit from the $1 million scheme sponsored by the Royal Hongkong Jockey Club. The scheme complements the Social Welfare Department's recently launched inquiry fax line and the police's plan to set up an emergency fax line. The vice-chairman of a council co-ordinating committee, Mrs Winnie Wong Ho Kit-yuk, said applicants could obtain 50 to 90 per cent subsidy towards buying a fax machine, which costs about $3,000. She said the selection of recipients and the subsidy would depend on the applicant's age, monthly income, degree of hearing disability, and the number of deaf people in the household. ''We would also see whether they are living alone, receiving public assistance, or are the sole bread winner of the family,'' Mrs Wong said. Members of the vetting panel, including Jockey Club steward Professor Harry Fang Sinyang, and the Commissioner for Rehabilitation, Mr Allan Chow Shou-shun, would announce the results in mid-August, she said. The committee's chairman, Sister Theresa Chien Sao-lin, said the scheme aimed to enlarge the social circle of the deaf, enhance their independence and build up their confidence. ''Deaf people can communicate with others themselves by using a fax machine. This is important in building up their self-confidence as they do not need to rely on others to make phone calls. ''Often they would have to lose their privacy by asking others to make some personal calls,'' Sister Theresa said. She said a fax machine was also the best way for a deaf person to communicate if there was an accident or emergency at home. Mr Chow said the Jockey Club would be approached for more sponsorship if the number of eligible applicants exceeded the 600 quota. The council has also approached Hongkong Telecom to subsidise installation costs and monthly fees. Director of Suen Mei Speech and Hearing Centre, Mrs Bessie Pang Lau Seung-man, welcomed the scheme. ''Fax machines are a very good communication channel for deaf people to enlarge their social circle, which is important for the development of their psychological health,'' she said.