On 6th March, Ofcom approved BT’s enhanced text relay service. This is good news. Ofcom have already established criteria for the new service that promises improvements over the current text relay provision, including no prefixes for incoming calls, more natural flow of the conversation with the ability to interrupt, and the ability to use the service from some smartphones and tablets. A key part of the service will be the ability to deliver the text part of a call over the internet.
The new service must remain accessible to anyone wanting to continue to use their existing minicoms or other equipment.
Some of the improvements will only be available if you download some software or an ‘app’. Initially this will work on:
- Windows based personal computers and laptops (using the following Windows operating systems: XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 )
- Intel based Linux personal computers and laptops;
- Intel based Mac Operating System (“OS”)X;
- mobile telephones running Android 4 OS and;
- tablets running the Android 4 OS.
An iOS (iPhone, iPad) app will be available by 30th June, subject to Apple approval with windows based mobiles prioritised after that. The iOS app is in development and will be available for testing in the pre-approval state from week commencing 5th May 2014.
Approving BT’s service is an important step and while there are still improvements UKCoD would like to see, with the new service due to go live by 18th April, users will have a chance for themselves to judge whether it delivers on the promises.
With that in mind, there is still time to sign up to user experience research Ofcom has commissioned to judge the new service compared to the current text relay service;
More information about the improvements and how to access the new service will be available shortly from BT.
A BSL translation of the Statement is available here
Next Generation Text Relay: Approval of a text relay service