Ofcom has published details of its proposals to improve fixed-line and mobile communications services for people with hearing and speech impairments. It wants all UK network providers to offer access to a next generation ‘text relay’ service, enabling users with hearing and/or speech impairments to communicate via telephone or textphone equipment.
The current rules require BT to fund an Ofcom-approved text relay service and all communications providers to provide text relay access for their customers.
However, this system requires an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two parties, which can be slow. The proposed new services would be faster and available online via PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said “We believe the proposed new text relay services would significantly improve the ease with which users with hearing and/or speech impairments will be able to communicate with others by phone, including making use on the move easier via mobile technology.”
Any comments about the costs, benefits and approval process of Ofcom’s next-generation text relay (NGTR) service should be submitted to Ofcom by 13th July 2012. A separate consultation about proposed video-based relay services is planned later this year.