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April 4, 2005

CSD and America Online Join Forces In Providing TTY Services

From: CSD - Apr 4, 2005

Release Date: April 4, 2005
Contact: David Rosenbaum
CSD Community & Media Relations

CSD and America Online Join Forces To Provide AOL Members
Who Are Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, or Speech Disabled
With An Easier, More Friendly Customer Support Experience

Service Is Supported By Skilled CSD Representatives Who Specialize in Serving Deaf and Hard-Of-Hearing Communities

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. & DULLES, VA.— April 4, 2005 —America Online, the world's leading Interactive services company and CSD, the world's largest telecommunications relay and human service organization run for and by deaf and hard of hearing individuals, today announced an agreement that will provide an enhanced member services experience to AOL members who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled.

AOL members can access this special service on their text-based telephone (TTY), a device which allows users to send and receive typed messages over a telephone line. American Sign Language (ASL) is often the primary means of communication for someone who uses a TTY. While ASL shares the same vocabulary as spoken English, the grammar and syntax is quite different. These differences may complicate the TTY communication process between a hearing person and a deaf person.

To help mitigate this issue, AOL has partnered with CSD to ensure that customer support calls from individuals from these communities are fielded by skilled CSD representatives who are specifically trained to interpret ASL syntax when typed by a deaf user over a TTY device. This agreement will lead to an easier, more friendly member services experience for AOL members who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled.

"AOL enjoys an extremely loyal member base from the deaf community, and we're continually looking for opportunities to improve the AOL experience for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech disabled. CSD is the perfect partner to help us further evolve customer service in this area." said Tom Wlodkowski, AOL's Director of Accessibility. "We are excited to be working with CSD on this initiative."

"By working with CSD, AOL has expanded upon their commitment to their deaf and hard of hearing customers," said Benjamin Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. "CSD has the intrinsic knowledge no one else in the industry can claim, because we are a company run by deaf and hard of hearing individuals."

AOL's TTY support line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by calling (800) 759-3323. TTY calls are managed at the CSD call center in Tucson, ARIZ. AOL's TTY service is designed to help members manage connectivity issues with their AOL account.

CSD is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to providing broad-based services, ensuring public accessibility and increasing public awareness of issues affecting deaf and hard of hearing individuals. With its headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D., CSD is the world's largest telecommunications relay and human services organization run for and by deaf and hard of hearing individuals. CSD was recently named by the Annual Call Center Exhibition (ACCE) as a "Global Call Center of the Year" for 2004, one of nine companies worldwide to be so recognized.

This agreement with CSD 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

About America Online, Inc.

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

About CSD

CSD (Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.) was established in 1975, primarily to provide sign language interpreting services to deaf and hard of hearing adults in South Dakota. Today, CSD employs over 3,000 individuals in offices across the nation, providing a broad continuum of social and human services programs, as well as telecommunications relay services. CSD is a private nonprofit agency dedicated to providing quality services; ensuring public accessibility; and increasing awareness of issues affecting the deaf, hard of hearing and individuals with speech disabilities. For more information, please visit

Contact Info:
Rick Norris, CSD Ventures (605) 367-5760
Amy Gross, America Online (646) 805-2037