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October 10, 2002

Deaf won’t get the wrong number here

From: Huntington Herald Dispatch, WV
Oct. 10, 2002

By BOB WITHERS - The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- West Virginia Wireless and the West Virginia Association of the Deaf have gone together to develop wireless plans to enhance the lifestyles of the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

West Virginia Wireless is developing a one-price, unlimited messaging plan for WVAD members. It includes the ability to add voice minutes to text-messaging rate plans, which would enable hard-of-hearing people to share their phones with hearing members of their families.

"Deaf and hard-of-hearing people should have the same capabilities and feeling of independence that hearing persons have," says Donna Williams, WVAD’s secretary. "The ability to pay one rate for unlimited messaging gives us another way to communicate at an affordable rate."

The plan will be weighted toward the use of short messaging service added to a reduced number of talking minutes. Customers will type messages into their phones -- with a maximum of 160 characters each -- and can set their phones to vibrate, so they will know when messages are coming in.

"Hopefully, we’ll have it before the end of the fourth quarter," says General Manager Bob Wilson.

The company also has a hands-free headset that allows t-coiled hearing-aid users to hear conversations more clearly.

"We are committed to help raise awareness of wireless technology that gives the deaf and hard-of-hearing the ability to use a wireless phone as easily as anyone else," Wilson says. "We focus on wireless services that enhance the lifestyles of the people in West Virginia, and that means everyone."

Copyright © 2002 The Herald-Dispatch