MCI, AOL Unveil AIM Relay Services

MCI announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with America Online to allow deaf, hearing impaired and speech disabled individuals to access MCI’s services via AOL, AOL Instant Messenger and Apple Computer iChat services.

According to MCI and AOL, services will now be available for users to set up text message conversations with MCI Relay operators and make calls from computers and mobile devices with Internet access.

“The popularity and convenience of AOL’s instant messaging services adds another significant dimension to our services,” said Paul Orloff, MCI director of Relay Services. “Our agreement with AOL is yet another example of how MCI is delivering innovative IP-based solutions that help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community communicate more simply and effectively.”

AIM Relay allows instant message users to access telecommunications relay services (TRS) via their AIM client or “buddy list.”

TRS allows individuals with communicative disorders to converse through a communications assistant with people who use a standard telephone.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The service became a requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and went into full force in 1993 for phone services across the United States.

The IM “buddies” now providing this service are actually automated attendants, or “bots” that initiate the message and then direct the user to a point where a human takes over and begins a new instant message to perform the actual relay and complete the connection.

AIM Relay services routes its TRS calls via third-party service providers, including:

  • MCI’s, AOL screen name: MyIPRelay, and
  • Hands On Video Relay Service, screen name: Hovrsim
  • The service is now available to AOL, AIM and Apple iChat (versions 2.1 and up) users, as well as on various wireless networks.

    An interested user just needs to add the new services to their buddy list and initiate an instant message session with the service, as opposed to typing text into a TTY device.

    The service is now available to AOL, AIM and Apple iChat (versions 2.1 and up) users, as well as on various wireless networks.

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