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April 2010 | Volume 13 / Number 4
Getting Vertical: Government

Hamilton Relay Helps California Address Deaf, Blind, Speech-Disabled Requirements

By Paula Bernier

Through a new contract with the State of California, Hamilton Relay starting this summer will provide free telecommunications services that make telephone connections possible between people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled and people who use standard phones. In some cases, special equipment is required to access the service, and the State of California relies on a separate contractor for the provision of that equipment. INTERNET TELEPHONY recently interviewed Anne Girard, director of marketing at Hamilton Relay, about the deployment.

What will Hamilton Relay’s solution allow the State of California to offer that it couldn’t before?

Girard: As outlined in the new contract, there is an increased focus on outreach, customer education and service use training for speech-to-speech customers. In addition, there are enhanced customer preference options including customized greetings, the ability to simply provide communication assistants with a name and/or unique identifier for dialing purposes and specialized deaf blind preference options.

How, if at all, will the new State of California system compare with relay systems in use in other states around the country?

Girard: Telephone relay service has been available in the State of California as well as all 50 states as a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act passed into law in 1990, and further developed in 1994 to include the provision of relay service. Relay in California is unique in that it allows users of the service to select a provider. This choice is only available to customers of the California Relay Service.

What role, if any, does IP technology play in this?

Girard: Outside of the California Relay Service contract, Hamilton Relay provides Internet Relay services nationwide, which are based on IP technology.

What types of endpoints will hearing-impaired people require to use this system?

Girard: In some cases, special equipment is required to access relay service. The California Equipment Distribution program, managed by a separate contractor, facilitates the provisioning of that equipment.

What new technology trends are we seeing in telecommunications relay services, and how is Hamilton Telecommunications addressing them?

Girard: Outside of traditional relay, [which] is state-based, the FCC (News - Alert) oversees the provision of video relay and Internet relay on a national level. These technologies are certainly a result of the latest advancements of the communication industry as whole. IT

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