Not turning a deaf ear to the hearing-impaired

Melissa Chua
21 Oct 2011
Deaf and hearing impaired consumers in New Zealand have access to a government initiated service known as NZ relay, which helps these individuals keep in touch by phone without the assistance of friends and family. The service, which operates two call centers (a traditional relay service center and video relay center), operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a week.
New Zealand’s relay initiative was inspired by a similar initiative from Sprint in the United States, which hosts a suite of services for the deaf and hearing-impaired.
Services for this segment are significantly more mature in the United States, with operators Sprint, AT&T  and Verizon Wireless each offering relay services.
Sprint lays claim to a Sprint Relay Store tailored to the deaf and hearing-impaired. The site sells data-only phones, each with a rating on compatibility with hearing aids. Sprint’s services for the deaf and hearing-impaired include unlimited video relay and a Sprint mobile IP app for Android devices which allows people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or have speech disabilities to communicate using text on mobile devices with the help of Sprint relay operators. The service is only available in the United States.

Sprint has also seized the opportunity to promote its 4G network for this segment, particularly touting the benefits of video relay over the hi-speed network.