BT launches ‘next generation text’ service

Making using the phone easier for people with speech and hearing impairment 

BT has today launched its new Next Generation Text (NGT) service, which will make it much easier for people with hearing and speech impairment to make phone calls.

NGT enables people who need to use text, to communicate with others over the phone either directly or through a relay assistant. The relay assistant acts as an intermediary to convert speech to text and vice versa for the two people in conversation.

The new service gives deaf, hearing and speech impaired people greater freedom and flexibility and allows them to communicate in real time, from a variety of locations, using a range of mobile devices. Customers can now make faster, more fluent phone calls using ordinary smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs as well as their existing specialised terminals.

A free app compatible with Android and Apple devices, and personal computers, enables customers to use NGT with internet connected devices.

Phone call and text app channels are open at the same time with NGT allowing a conversation to flow more naturally. People with some hearing can still have a voice conversation, but with the added back-up of text in case they do not quite catch something. If the person cannot hear, but can use their voice, the phone allows them to speak directly to the other person while the app displays the other person’s speech translated to text by the relay assistant.

If the user’s speech is impaired, but they have no difficulty in hearing, they can use the app to type via the text relay and the phone to listen. Their text will be translated into speech by the relay assistant.

When they are out and about, users can use mobile data or connect to public wi-fi networks and enjoy improved conversation speeds, with the choice of two-way text or speech. The NGT service also offers the option of making direct text-to-text calls using their internet-connected device.

Users can link a TextNumber, which looks like a standard phone number, to their home, work or mobile number so that when someone dials the TextNumber the call is automatically connected to the NGT service without the need for a caller to dial a special prefix.

BT has been holding trials of the Next Generation Text service since March this year and the service has been warmly received by the customers taking part.

Mike Aston, who is a senior architectural technologist with Warwickshire County Council, said: “NGT has really exceeded my expectations and certainly makes life a lot easier for deaf people. It’s so flexible across all devices and you can link a single mobile or landline number to NGT apps on various devices, be it a desktop or a mobile version of NGT. This way you have the luxury of answering any incoming calls on your mobile or landline telephone and reply from any NGT-linked device wherever you are. Should you miss a mobile call, it is logged on your mobile to return later.

“I have found TextNumbers extremely useful for the hearing to contact me without having to dial 18002 in front as before.”

“Last but not least, NGT certainly enhances employment prospects for the deaf in the future.”

Colin Lees, BT Business chief information officer, said: “This is a really important development. Whatever your hearing or speech impairment, this will make using the phone much simpler and easier. The app is free and easy to download and will give you greater flexibility and freedom - you can use the service at home, at work or on the move without the need for a specialised device.”

The new NGT Lite app can be downloaded free for computers at www.ngts.org.uk. For Android smartphones and tablets, the app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and it can be downloaded from the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads. Customers can also find more information about NGT and how it could benefit them at the website www.ngts.org.uk.

BT’s Next Generation Text service is available to its own customers and is being provided on a wholesale basis to other communications providers so they can serve their customers. NGT replaces BT’s existing text relay service, which has given valued service to customers for more than 20 years.

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.

All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News

Notes to editors
About BT
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of five lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2014, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,287m with reported profit before taxation of £2,312m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com.