FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2003
AT&T Launches New Video Relay Service
Nationwide Rollout Brings Communication Technology to Deaf Community
Morristown, N.J.--AT&T today announced the introduction of AT&T Video Relay Services, an innovative, web-based service that enables the nation's estimated 28 million deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with friends and family over the phone more easily than ever before by using American Sign Language (ASL).
AT&T Video Relay Service offers deaf consumers the ability to use sign language to hold phone conversations. Using a web camera and the Internet, these customers use sign language to communicate with a nationally certified interpreter who relays the conversation over the phone in spoken language to the hearing party. The service offers video interpretation nationwide, wherever a computer, web cam and a high-speed Internet connection are available.
In order to offer the new service, AT&T has contracted with a renowned American Sign Language interpreting company, Hands On Sign Language Services of Auburn, Calif., to provide the interpretation and video relay between the communicating parties. Hands On has been providing sign language services since 1990.
"Since the invention of the telephone, AT&T has been dedicated to providing communication services for the deaf community," said Sue Decker, general manager of AT&T Telecommunication Relay Services. "Now the Internet takes communication into the video dimension."
AT&T, a pioneer in developing and delivering communications services for people with hearing loss, will offer the new video service in addition to its internet and traditional TTY (text telephone) service, which enable a deaf or hard of hearing person to type messages that are read by an operator to the other party on the call.
"Hands On is excited to be working with a world leader in technology and innovation to bring Video Relay Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing," said Hands On president, Ronald E. Obray. "Together, AT&T and Hands On have found a way to make a major advancement in communications for this community by allowing them to communicate in their primary language--American Sign Language--which is grammatically different than written or spoken English."
Sign language users with a computer, a high-speed Internet access line (like DSL or cable modem), and a low-cost web camera can use AT&T's Video Relay Services. Free software will be available for download from the AT&T website (www.relay.att.com/vrs) that will allow deaf and hard of hearing people to use the Video Relay Service. Hearing people may access the service through a nationwide toll-free number, 1-888-VRS-9998.
AT&T has operated AT&T Telecommunications Relay Services for the deaf and hard of hearing for more than a decade, and was the first major telecommunications provider to do so. AT&T TRS has been the first to introduce many innovations to relay service, including Operator Services for the Deaf, relay services in Spanish and special features for the speech impaired.
About Hands On Sign Language Services, Inc.
Hands On Video Relay Service is operated by Hands On Sign Language Services, Inc., a provider of ASL interpreting services and other services to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community for over 12 years. Founded by a 20-year veteran of the sign language interpretation industry, Hands On employs dozens of nationally certified ASL interpreters. It is the company's mission to provide 24/7/365 video relay availability within the first six months of service. Hands On is dedicated to providing the highest quality video relay services by combining excellence in video technology and the most fluent certified video interpreters. Additional information about the company can be obtained its website: http://www.hovrs.com.
AT&T (www.att.com) is among the premier voice, video and data communications companies in the world, serving businesses, consumers, and government. The company runs the largest, most sophisticated communications network in the U.S., backed by the research and development capabilities of AT&T Labs. A leading supplier of data, Internet, and managed services for the public and private sectors, AT&T offers outsourcing and consulting to large businesses and government. The company is a market leader in local, long distance, and Internet services, as well as transaction-based services like prepaid cards, collect calling, and directory assistance. With approximately $40 billion of revenues, AT&T has relationships with about 50 million consumers and 4 million business customers, who depend on AT&T for high-quality communications. AT&T has garnered several awards for outstanding performance and customer service.
AT&T 'Safe Harbor'
The foregoing are "forward-looking statements" which are based on management's beliefs as well as on a number of assumptions concerning future events made by and information currently available to management. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on such forward-looking statements, which are not a guarantee of performance and are subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside AT&T's control, that could cause actual results to differ materially from such statements. For a more detailed description of the factors that could cause such a difference, please see AT&T's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. This information is presented solely to provide additional information to further understand the results of AT&T.
For more information, reporters may contact:
Janis Burenga, for AT&T
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