AOL Boosts AIM Relay Service

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Hamilton Relay Services will now be accessible through AOL’s AIM Relay Service. The AIM Relay Service builds upon the popularity of the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service within the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-disabled communities.

It allows AOL members and AIM users to connect to telecommunication relay services to place relay telephone calls directly from their AOL or AIM Buddy List feature.

Launching access to Hamilton services through the AIM Relay Service increases options for users and will help further ensure that they can work with the relay providers they are most comfortable with. The AOL and AIM Screen Name for Hamilton Relay Services is HipRelay.

The AIM Relay Service is available free of charge to AOL members and AIM users as well as Apple iChat users. It launched on July 8th of this year at the National Association of the Deaf conference, and more than 100,000 calls were placed through the service in the first 30 days of operation. The service can be accessed from any computer or wireless device running the AOL or AIM service. AIM is available free and is built-in to many mobile phones as well as the Danger Sidekick with T-Mobile service and AT&T Wireless’ new Ogo.

In addition to Hamilton Relay Services, the AIM Relay Service has established several partnerships with relay service providers including IP-RELAY.com, powered by MCI and Hands On Video Relay Service. The AOL and AIM Screen Name for MCI’s IP Relay Service is MyIPRelay. The AOL and AIM Screen Name for Hands On Relay Service is Hovrsim.

How It Works

Telecommunications relay services facilitate telephone communication for users who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled. Traditionally, to place a relay call, the caller would connect with a Relay Communications Assistant using a TTY device and type in the number they want to call. The Assistant then places the call and relays the conversations back and forth between the two parties, reading the caller’s text to the hearing recipient and typing the recipient’s voiced response back.

The AIM Relay Service provides an additional access point for telecommunication relay services. To use the AIM Relay Service, users simply add the relay vendor’s designated screen name to their AOL or AIM Buddy List feature and send an instant message to the vendor with the ten-digit phone number they would like to call. Once connected with a Communications Assistant, the call proceeds as a traditional relay call, except using instant messages instead of typing text into a TTY device.

The AIM Relay Service on the desktop also supports the ability to place video relay calls where the caller and the Communications Assistant communicate in American Sign Language through a webcam. Video Relay is available to AOL members. AIM 5.5 or 5.9 users and those using the Apple iChat AV 2.1 client.

AOL’s AIM Relay Service is an extension of AOL’s Accessibility Policy, a company wide priority that aims to address and meet the technology needs of people with disabilities.

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