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March 15, 2004

Mobile phone for the deaf from Vodafone

From: InfoSync - Norway - Mar 15, 2004

By: Anthony Newman, Monday 15th March 2004, 12:05 GMT

The mobile textphone is born, and available from Vodafone UK to enable nine million UK people with hearing impairment to communicate on the move.

A mobile phone has just been launched which allows deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired people to hold real-time, interactive conversations whilst on the move.

The mobile textphone is being marketed by Vodafone UK with software developed by RNID, the charity representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK. This service improves deaf people's ability to make any call, from something as crucial as contacting the emergency services to making a simple enquiry about goods or services. It also allows interactive text conversation similar to speaking on the telephone, where users can interrupt and enjoy the immediacy of dialogue.

The new mobile textphone allows two people to communicate by phone using text in real time. The textphone has a keyboard and display screen, and instead of speaking into a mouthpiece the user can type what they want to say and read the reply from the screen. A deaf person can communicate with a hearing person using any ordinary landline or mobile with the help of RNID Typetalk. Any Vodafone UK customer can now call textphones on any UK network using the BT TextDirect pre-fix 18002, or access a range of other services with the 18001 prefix. Realtime interpretation between text and voice is provided by the national Relay service RNID Typetalk, whose opeators translate between voice and text.

The service is available both on pay-as-you-go and pay monthly plans, and costs the same as a standard voice call. The service works across networks and landlines.

The phone itself is a Nokia 9210i, specially customized. The phone will cost between 240 GBP and 380 GBP depending on the price plan selected by the customer.

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