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Ofcom: Improved phone services for disabled customers coming 2014

Improved text relay services for those with hearing and speech impairments will be able to make use of better services as standard from 2014 onwards.

Following on from a proposal launched by Ofcom in July this year, the regulator has ruled that mobile phone and landline operators will have to offer ‘next generation’ text relay services, allowing for faster and more natural conversations.

The main improvement will see the introduction of parallel two way speech conversations which will require a live internet connection similar to a Skype voice and text call. The improved text relay services will become a standard feature of more mobile phones sold in the UK in the future.

Ofcom: Improved phone services for disabled customers coming 2014

Ofcom will be working with industry and disability representatives to analyse the impact of speech recognition technology on the accuracy and speeds of current and future Text-to-Speech (TTS) and Speech-to-Text (STT) technology, how this can be adopted by manufacturers and networks.

The TVonics DTR-HD500 Freeview HD box is a good example of TTS technology helping people navigate a TV guide with voice commands.

Perhaps more well known is Siri, the voice assistant that debuted on the Apple iPhone 4S and to a lesser extent, Samsung’s S Voice counterpart on the Galaxy S3.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom Consumer Group Director, said: “The new text relay service will provide a real improvement on the current telephone experience for hearing and speech impaired customers.

“Technology in this area is still evolving, so Ofcom will continue working to ensure disabled users can access reliable, up-to-date relay services which help them communicate more easily.”