Sprint's hard-of-hearing customers benefit from new and free web-based solution

Overland 05 March 2008Sprint has released Sprint WebCapTel, a new free web-based service that allows a person who can speak but has challenges hearing over the phone, to read word-for-word captions of their calls on a web browser. This new service is expected to help an estimated 23 million Americans with hearing loss, who may face challenges hearing over the telephone.

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"We are always looking for ways to offer unique and easy user experiences for our customers. This new solution from Sprint will offer the hard-of-hearing community with the ability to enjoy the benefits of a natural phone conversation by accessing real-time web-based captions", stated Mike Ligas, director of Sprint Relay.

With Sprint WebCapTel, users can make and receive calls on their own telephone, cell phone, land-line, or even an amplified phone. During the call, if they have difficulty hearing what is being said, they can log into www.sprintcaptel.com and read written captions of everything their caller speaks. Captions appear virtually at the same time as the person speaks, allowing users to enjoy a natural telephone conversation.

With this new service, CapTel is available almost anywhere with a phone and internet access on a computer. Using any phone, even amplified phones, Sprint WebCapTel will capture the audio of the person speaking to the user and change the spoken sounds into words to read. When displayed on a web browser, the user can change the font size, color, and even background. When a call is completed, the user can save the captioned conversation for later review, allowing the user to concentrate on being involved in the conversation.

"WebCapTel puts people with hearing loss back in control of their own telephone conversations - any time, anywhere - by capitalizing on the convenience and prevalence of the Internet", stated Robert Engelke, president of Ultratec Inc., the company that developed CapTel technology. "It gives people with hearing loss the confidence to rely on the telephone again, leveling the playing field for professional opportunities, in social situations, and in matters of personal safety."

This free service is available for Sprint customers anywhere in the United States and within United States Territories. However, calls to or from international locations, such as Canada or Mexico, are not available.

Sprint has 17 years of experience in providing relay services to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind or have a speech disability to communicate with hearing persons on the phone. Sprint's experience in the field assures users of Sprint Relay receive quality service no matter what type of Relay service they are using. Relay service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or call length.

Sprint WebCapTel is an extension of Sprint's existing CapTel service, which also provides captions during phone calls, but requires a specialized telephone to display the captions.

Ultratec Inc. is a developer of text telecommunications equipment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Since 1978, the company has been responsible for numerous advancements in telecommunications technology, including a full range of text telephones, public telephones, amplified telephones, and signaling systems for people with hearing loss. Ultratec works extensively with government agencies, emergency services, and local and national advocacy groups to ensure equal telecommunications access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks serving approximately 54 million customers at the end of 2007; industry-leading mobile data services; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. More company news is available in the VMW March 2006 article Sprint and Global Care Quest introduce mobile access to patient data.


Leslie Versweyveld

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