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AOL’s Service For the Hearing Impaired

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America Online announced an expanded partnership to launch the new My IP Relay Number service.

This service, developed by MCI, provides deaf and hard of hearing individuals with a unique local number, giving them the ability to receive telecommunication relay calls on any stationary or mobile computing device that features the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service.

My IP Relay Number is one of the first products that enables deaf and hard of hearing individuals to use their own, unique local phone number to receive incoming calls anywhere, anytime via any computing device with AIM access. This new service essentially turns any AIM enabled computing device into a “phone” for My IP Relay Number customers.

The service works in conjunction with the AIM Relay Service, which already offers users the ability to initiate relay calls directly from their AIM Buddy List feature.

“One of our top priorities is serving the needs of AOL members and AIM users who have disabilities,” said Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility at America Online. “We are very excited to be working with MCI to expand the AIM Relay Service to enable incoming calls. The ability to receive a relay call via the AIM service is a great resource that will help our members who are deaf or hard of hearing to stay connected while on the go.”

“This innovative new service is a great example of the convergence of IP Communications,” said Steven Johnson, vice president MCI Enhanced Services. “Working with AOL, we are harnessing the power of IP to enable people with hearing disabilities to make and receive calls while on the go.”

How It Works

The AIM Relay Service, together with MCI, already facilitates telephone communication for users who are deaf or hard of hearing to place a call by connecting with an MCI relay operator directly from their AIM Buddy List feature on any AIM-enabled computer or wireless device. The MCI relay operator then places the outbound telephone call and relays the conversations back and forth between the two parties, reading the deaf caller’s instant messages to the hearing recipient and typing the recipient’s voiced responses back.

Beginning today, deaf users can also receive relay calls via the AIM service as well, by simply adding the My IP Relay Screen Name (myiprelay) to their Buddy List feature and registering for a local telephone number through MCI.

Voice callers who wish to connect with a deaf user simply dial the user’s local number to be connected with an MCI relay operator. The operator then instant messages the deaf user via the AIM service and the deaf user answers the call by instant messaging back, wherever they are logged on to the AIM service. The call then proceeds as a traditional AIM Relay service call.

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AOL’s Service For the Hearing Impaired


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