Advancements in Communications Accessibility Become a Reality
New communications accessibility options through Real Time Text (RTT) will soon be a daily reality for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking. In a recent order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), RTT has been approved as an acceptable alternative to TTY technology for wireless carriers. RTT technology allows consumers to simultaneously send and receive text characters as they are typed or spoken, even while they are using voice services. Beginning as early as January 2018, wireless carriers will begin deploying RTT capability in their networks, enabling new options for consumers to communicate with each other, and with essential services such as 7-1-1 and 9-1-1.
On October 23, 2017, the FCC held an Accessibility Innovations Expo featuring private and public sector innovators, technology companies, organizations and academics that showcased their technology products and services that impact the lives of consumers with disabilities. With the use of the eCtouch RTT handset client from Omnitor, Hamilton® NG911 and INdigital demonstrated the groundbreaking new solution that provides RTT to 9-1-1 capability.
Why is RTT to 9-1-1 so important? In an emergency, EVERY SECOND COUNTS! RTT provides Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) with the most accurate information about the emergency situation, allowing first responders to respond faster and more efficiently, which can and will translate to saving lives and property. With RTT, text is transmitted instantly while being typed, character by character. The receiving party can immediately read the text as it is written, without waiting for the person to finish typing and press “send,” as is the case with SMS. If the sender cannot finish typing, the receiving party can still see the text the sender was able to type, increasing the likelihood of obtaining useful information for the emergency response.
With a focus on next-generation innovations, the Hamilton RTT Gateway and INdigital Texty platform supports RTT, providing a natural flow of two-way communication that closely mimics the conversational nature of voice communication. RTT allows text to be utilized in the same conversational method as voice. RTT is a fast and interactive means of conversing and allows individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking to more effectively communicate with emergency responders.
How does the RTT to 9-1-1 solution work? The architecture contains a combination of software and network elements, as well as an originating network interconnection with an RTT capable wireless carrier. This allows callers to use a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) user agent, such as a compatible cell phone or mobile application, to initiate a 9-1-1 call with RTT and optional voice components. Upon placing a call, the call is sent to the Hamilton gateway, which enables the RTT component of the call to be displayed at the PSAP by the INdigital Texty platform. The RTT call is answered at the PSAP, and the voice portion is sent via SIP, enabling the PSAP to receive real time text dialog and location information. RTT support is an add-on service for 9-1-1 authorities and PSAPs and is exclusively provided by Hamilton and INdigital.