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July 8, 2004

America Online Launches AIM Relay Services

From: Business Wire (press release), CA - Jul 8, 2004

DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 8, 2004--America Online, Inc.

-- New Service Lets Users Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech Disabled Access Telecommunications Relay Services Directly From Their Buddy List(R) Feature

-- Users Can Access AIM Relay Services On Their Computer or On Their Wireless Device

-- The AIM(R) Service Is the First Mainstream Instant Messaging Service to Offer Direct Access to Text and Video Relay Services

America Online, Inc., the world's leading interactive services company, today announced the launch of AIM Relay Services, a new service which builds upon the popularity of the AOL(R) Instant Messenger(TM) service within the deaf, hard of hearing and speech disabled communities by allowing users to connect to telecommunication relay services, and place relay telephone calls, directly from their AOL(R) Buddy List(R) or AIM(R) Buddy List(R) feature.

AIM Relay Services can be accessed from any computer or wireless device running the AOL service or AIM(R) client, (available for free download at AIM Relay Services will be available free of charge to AOL members and AIM users as well as Apple(R) iChat(TM) users (additional charges from wireless carriers may apply for users on mobile devices).

The launch of AIM Relay Services extends the value of the AOL and AIM services for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech disabled communities, who already use the company's widespread instant messaging services as fundamental tools to facilitate independent, instant communication.

By opening up the service to any text and video relay service provider who can meet the technical requirements of working with the AOL service or AIM clients, AIM Relay Services will help ensure that users can continue to work with the providers they are most comfortable with. AIM Relay Services has established several partnerships with relay service providers including, powered by MCI and Hands On Video Relay Service.

"We've seen the immense popularity of the AOL and AIM services within the deaf and hard of hearing communities and we are excited to extend its value by providing easy access to relay services," said Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility, America Online Inc. "We are continually working to develop new ways technology can meet the needs of people with disabilities. Whether it's placing a relay call from your AOL or AIM-capable mobile device or from the Buddy List feature on your desktop, this new service will be an exciting enhancement for users who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or those with speech disabilities."

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.

AIM Relay Services provides an additional access point for telecommunication relay services. To use AIM Relay Services, users simply add the relay vendor's designated AOL or AIM Screen name to their 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.

AIM Relay Services on the desktop also support the ability to place video relay calls where the caller and the Communications Assistant communicate in American Sign Language through a webcam. In addition, users who have the AOL service or AIM client loaded onto their wireless devices, can enjoy the added benefit of accessing relay services while away from their PC and on the go(1).

AIM Relay Services is accessible on users' computers through the AOL software, on the Web through the free AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service, and through the Apple(R) iChat(R) client. It is also available on a wide range of wireless devices, such as the Danger(R) Sidekick(TM) with T-Mobile(R) service or through many cellular phones that offer WAP-enabled access to AIM. Text relay is available to all AOL and AIM service users. Video Relay is available to AOL members, AIM 5.5 users and those using the Apple iChat AV 2.1 client. AIM Relay Services requires no additional software.

AOL's AIM Relay Services 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. More information on AOL's accessibility efforts is available at

(1) Wireless service data plan required to access AIM Relay Services on mobile devices. Additional charges from the wireless service provider may apply.

The AIM screen name for MCI's IP Relay Service is MyIPRelay. The AIM screen name for Hands On Relay Service is Hovrsim.

About America Online, Inc.

America Online, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. Based in Dulles, Virginia, America Online is the world's leader in interactive services, Web brands, Internet technologies and e-commerce services.


America Online, Inc., Dulles
Amy Gross, 646-805-2037

© Business Wire 2004