Wednesday, June 13, 2001

Verizon lends an ear
to aid isle customers

By Lyn Danninger

Verizon Hawaii is offering a new service that will help customers with speech or hearing disabilities make and receive phone calls.

Verizon The phone company's speech-to-speech relay service, available in English and Spanish, uses operators who relay, interpret and amplify a caller's words to the other party. Operators were trained by the Assistive Resource Center of Hawaii, said Ann Nishida, media relations manager for Verizon.

"Operators have gone through special training to learn and recognize speech patterns," she said.

Nishida estimates there maybe as many as 11,000 potential users of the service in Hawaii.

Unlike Verizon's TTY telecommunications relay service, which requires a special text telephone, the new service needs no special equipment.

Nishida said the service could also be especially useful to people who have mobility limitations that prevent them from using the TTY text service.

The STS relay service was developed by in California by Bob Segalman, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Segalman was in Hawaii yesterday to demonstrate the service at Shriner's Hospital.

Nationally STS went into use March 1. The service is now mandated by the Federal Communications Commission.

Users can reach the new service by calling Verizon at 711, which is also TTY compatible, or 643-0787.

E-mail to Business Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin