Hearing-impaired telephone


Phoning in an order for a pepperoni pizza can be a cumbersome process for a deaf person, but new telecommunications services may deliver a better way. Now consider making a telephone call to your mother. You pick up the phone, dial the number and talk to her about the weather, what you had for dinner, etc. Now imagine that you are one of the 4 million people in South Africa who are hearing impaired or Deaf. You are Deaf, cannot speak, but use sign language. Your mother is not Deaf. She can sign, too, but she lives on the other side of town, and you need to talk to her - now. You cannot simply pick up the phone and call Mom. You have to get someone that can talk to her on your behalf - someone who can relay your sign language in speech to Mom over the phone, and translate Mom's reply from the phone into sign language for you. There is an alternative, however - a Deaf Telephone. AT&T recently announced its Video Relay Service, which provides another option for deaf and hearing-impaired people to communicate with those who can hear, using a PC, webcam and high-speed Internet connection, a deaf person signs in American Sign Language to an interpreter. The interpreter then speaks to the hearing person on the other end of the line. Here's how a deaf or hearing-impaired person might currently order up a pepperoni pie: Using a TTY or a TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf), the customer types her order on the special keypad and transmits the message to an operator, who relays it by speaking to pizza parlor staff. This process is called traditional relay.

Game of phones

Telephone game has also developed just as practices for persons who are hearing impaired or are hard-of-hearing. The telephone game, also known as Broken Telephone, Chinese whispers and whisper down the lane, is a game often played by children at parties or in the playground in which a phrase or sentence is passed on from one player to another, but is subtly altered in transit. The game has no objective, and no winner - the entertainment comes from comparing the original and final messages. Even if the line is not completed, the last few people to receive the message can compare this with the original, and some messages will be unrecognisable after only a few steps. The game has been used in schools to simulate the spread of gossip and its harmful effects, and has implications in many adult topics like bureaucaracy, politics and Academia.

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