BT has launched a new ‘text relay’ service that’s designed to facilitate telephone conversations for customers with hearing or speech impairments. It’s the result of an Ofcom mandate to improve the previous text relay service.
The original text relay service involved an assistant who converted speech to text and vice versa for two people having a conversation. This new service offers speech, hearing and text simultaneously - and can also be used on internet-connected devices, avoiding the need for a dedicated ‘textphone’.
In addition, text relay users can link their regular telephone number to a ‘TextNumber’ that’ll automatically include the the relay service as part of the call.
Although the new service has been developed by BT, it’s available to customers of all UK landline and mobile telephone providers. It was originally due to be released in April but technical problems delayed the launch.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, said “We’re pleased that hearing and speech impaired customers can finally start to benefit from the new ‘next generation’ text relay service. The enhanced service delivers real improvements to the text relay experience, allowing users to have conversations more easily and fluently. We’ll monitor the performance of the new service to ensure it meets our expected standards.”
[Ofcom guide to text relay; Next Generation Text Service website]