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AT&T Instant Messaging for Deaf and People with Hearing or Speech Loss

  • Published: 2009-09-29 (Rev. 2015-01-15) - Contact: AT&T at AT&T Inc.
  • Synopsis: AT&T and AOLs AIM instant messaging service for people with hearing and speech loss.

Main Document

"The new real time feature is one of a number of AT&T initiatives that address making services available to people with disabilities and senior citizens."

AT&T Premieres Real Time IM Relay for Customers With Hearing and Speech Loss - As Part of its Commitment to Serving Customers with Disabilities, AT&T Is First Provider to Enhance IM Relay Services.

For people with hearing and speech loss, communicating with callers who can speak and hear just went real time, thanks to AT&Tand AOL's AIM instant messaging service. Customers using AT&T IM Relay services now have a new, faster feature at their fingertips: AT&T Real Time IM. AT&T is the first and only provider to offer the new real time feature - offering more than 31 million people with hearing and speech loss, nationwide, a more immediate way to communicate with standard telephone users.

Users log in to a specialized AIM interface that works with an Internet connection on a PC and on many wireless devices. A specially-trained relay operator reads IMs to hearing callers and types IMs which are displayed - in real time - to the end user. The new service is offered at no additional charge to customers who register with AT&T Relay Services.

With the new real time IM feature, instead of waiting for the relay operator to type a full phrase or sentence, IM users can see the text messages they are receiving, word-by-word as they are typed - making conversations feel more like calls experienced by hearing customers.

"To hearing users, this may sound like a trivial enhancement," said Claude Stout, Executive Director, TDI. "But for many callers with hearing or speech disabilities, this creates a wireless and online communications experience that is much closer to what hearing people encounter when talking with others on the phone. TDI applauds such collaboration between industry players that results in greater functional equivalency for deaf and hard of hearing consumers."

TDI recently honored AT&T with the 2009 James C. Marsters Promotion Award for providing innovative products and services that address the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

To access the service, using an Internet connection and an AIM account, AT&T IM Relay users can IM the phone number they're calling to the screen name "attrelay." AT&T IM Relay customers are assigned a typical 10-digit phone number, like any other wireless or land-line customer, that others can use to contact them.

"It's great to see AT&T leading the way as the first IM Relay provider to offer real time services," said Senior Vice President, Global Messaging, David Liu, AOL. "This generates added value for customers who rely on the service to keep them connected with friends, family, and business contacts. And, it means that conversations flow more naturally, and move more quickly for the parties on both sides of the conversation."

Calling Services for People with Hearing and Speech Loss

Launched in early 2009, AT&T IM Relay is one of three calling services offered to customers who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability.

"At AT&T, we know that people with disabilities rely on our services to empower them and help them live independently," said Susan A. Johnson, senior vice president, customer information services, AT&T. "Going back as far as Alexander Graham Bell, we have focused on this, and we continue to innovate these specialized services as part of that vast legacy. We care about providing a valuable customer experience, and we hope that the customers using this new service - and the many others we offer - know that it's a big part of who we are and what we do as a communications provider."

AT&T's Continued Commitment: Accessible Service to All

The new real time feature is one of a number of AT&T initiatives that address making services available to people with disabilities and senior citizens, for example:

For more information on AT&T Real Time IM Relay, go to, or visit for information on any of AT&T's calling services for customers with disabilities.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

Related Information:

  1. Spokane Video Relay Service Interpreting Center - Sorenson Communications - (2015-01-15)
  2. Mobile Captions Service - Maine Relay - Hamilton Relay - (2011-04-28)
  3. Free Video Relay Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing - American Network Inc - (2010-01-05)
  4. Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone Services - Wendy Taormina-Weiss - (2012-04-07)
  5. Mobile Captions Service(SM) for Residents With Hearing Loss - Rhode Island Relay - Hamilton Relay - (2011-05-03)


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