Upgrading text relay services to benefit disabled consumers
Ofcom today set out further details of proposals to improve communications services for people with hearing and speech impairments.
Ofcom is proposing that all UK landline and mobile providers give their customers access to a next generation ‘text relay’ service approved by Ofcom.
Text relay services enable people with hearing and/or speech impairments to communicate with others through telephone or textphone equipment.
Under the current system, a relay assistant acts as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two parties. Ofcom research has found that these conversations can be slow and sometimes fail to flow naturally.
The proposed new services would be faster and accessible via the internet through PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones. Ofcom today has set out further detail following a consultation last year.
Providing better text relay services to benefit consumers
There are a number of potential benefits of the proposed new text relay services including:
- improving the flow of conversation by introducing parallel two-way speech. This will allow users to interject, instead of having to wait until the end of a message;
- enabling a wider range of mainstream equipment to be used to access the service, including easier use of text relay on the move via mobile phones; and
- improved conversation speeds.
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.’
Ofcom intends to consult on proposals on video-based relay services later this year.
In the meantime, Ofcom is working with government and disability groups to encourage the provision of video relay services by communications providers and other organisations and businesses voluntarily.
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