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December 13, 2004

AOL Upgrades Telephone Service For Deaf Users

From: - Dec 13, 2004

By Messaging Pipeline News Courtesy of Messaging Pipeline

AOL has partnered with MCI to expand its AIM Relay service to include users with ordinary telephone numbers. The service enables deaf and hard of hearing users to have telephone conversations using AOL Instant Messaging as a message text transmission environment.

The system previously required special telephone numbers that were administered by MCI. But now any telephone service that is attached to a stationary or mobile device equipped with AIM may be used.

The service is designed to help disable, and is provided free to users by the Federal Communications Commission. The exception is that there are charges associated with SMS services on most cell phones and mobile devices.

The system works through the intervention of a human operator. Once the call is initiated by the deaf party or by someone calling the deaf party, an MCI operator gets involved. The operator receives the text typed in by the deaf user via AIM, and reads it to the other party. The party responds by voice, and the operator then types that message back to the user.

One has to wonder if the FCC would pay for a call made to Janet Jackson.

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