IM this article to a friend!

February 18, 2004

Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awards Relay Contract to AT&T

From: U.S. Newswire (press release) - Washington,DC,USA - Feb 18, 2004

RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) and Virginia Relay are pleased to announce that AT&T has been awarded a new three-year telecommunications Relay contract for Virginia Relay. The new contract reflects a continuation of AT&T Relay service to the citizens of Virginia.

Virginia Relay ( provides the most up to date technologies and assistive devices that enable the deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind and speech impaired to communicate via the telephone. Virginia Relay can be accessed by dialing 7-1-1.

According to Ronald Lanier, director of VDDHH, by awarding the contract to AT&T, 105 experienced communication assistants in Norton, VA will retain their positions. "The contract will also bring the latest in automated Relay technology to Virginia. Some of the new technologies are revolutionary. We are very excited to continue to provide Virginians equal opportunity to use the telephone freely and without barriers," said Lanier.

Among the new features Virginia Relay users will be able to access include:

-- In-Bound International Relay Calls -- April 2004: Callers will be able to access Virginia Relay directly from other countries by calling 276-679-5968 (voice/text).

-- Spanish to English Translation Relay -- March 2004: Virginia Relay users requiring Spanish to English or English to Spanish translation will be able to make Relay calls by simply dialing 7- 1-1 and requesting this new Relay service.

-- Call Forwarding -- March 2004: Virginia Relay text users who subscribe to Call Forwarding services from their local telephone company will be able to activate this feature using Virginia Relay. The Virginia Relay text user will dial 888-477-0655 and notify the Relay center of an alternate number where they can be reached. Virginia Relay text users who have Call Forwarding and a second line in their home can also use this new feature to automatically route their incoming calls through the Relay center.

-- 24-Hour In-House Customer Care Line -- March 2004: A Customer Care Assistant will be available at the Virginia Relay Call Center 24 hours a day to personally respond to all complaints, inquiries, and commendations. Text Relay users can call the Customer Care Line directly by dialing (866) 246-9300; voice users can dial (866) 894-9300. Relay callers can also ask a communications assistant to transfer them to the Customer Care desk at any time during a call.

-- Privacy Feature for Speech to Speech Callers -- April 2004: Speech-to-Speech Virginia Relay users will have the option of a call-in-progress privacy feature whenever they are speaking to a Communication Assistant. The party called will not be able to hear this portion of the conversation. Once the Speech-to-Speech Relay user finishes their part of the conversation, full audio communication is restored as the specially trained Communication Assistant re-voices the conversation to the party called. Speech- to-Speech Relay services are available in Virginia by dialing 7-1- 1.

-- Dedicated AT&T Community Relations Account Manager for VA Relay -- April 2004: Virginia Relay will have the resources of a new contracted position to promote Relay awareness and provide consumer training and technical assistance. The position will also provide support to the Virginia Relay Advisory Council, selected consumer-based activities, and special relay events across the state. Housed at the VDDHH offices in Richmond, the new position will be reachable by dialing 800-552-7917 (v/t).

-- Continuation of Virginia Relay Marketing and Outreach Program -- Partnering with Devaney & Associates, Inc. and our local VDDHH outreach contractors, VDDHH and AT&T will continue our Relay outreach efforts around the state. In addition to Virginia Relay's successful advertising and media activities, we will focus new general awareness efforts on the seniors who have a hearing loss. We will also be working with Virginia's 134 Public Safety Answering Points to ensure seamless connection of all 9-1-1 calls placed by Virginia residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf/Blind or speech impaired.

Additional enhancements to Virginia Relay services will be announced in the coming months. Those include: Enhanced Voice Carry-Over Relay (CapTel(tm) - see note below) services for persons who are hard of hearing or deaf and can speak clearly; access to Video Relay Services (VRS) in 25 public locations, for Relay callers whose native language is American Sign Language (ASL); Text Messaging Relay trial for wireless Relay users.

For more information on Virginia Relay and its services, please visit, or call Susan Weis at 410-296-0800.


Note: CapTel is a trademark of Ultratec, Inc.


Contact: Susan Weis, 410-296-0800 or, for Virginia Relay

/© 2004 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/