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Opportunities for Direct Engagement with Real-Time Text

A presentation given at the 2017 Gov IT Symposium

7/31/2018 3:41:55 PM

Presented by Christian Vogler, Ph.D., Director of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University. December 6, 2017, Gov IT Symposium, St. Paul, MN. Presentation duration: 90 minutes.

Presentation description: In this session, you'll learn about real-time text (RTT), which is being deployed by wireless carriers. You'll learn how RTT offers access to your services by people with disabilities, how RTT can be used for direct engagement with constituents, and what to expect as the technology is deployed. You'll be able to make informed decisions about whether to adopt RTT and what needs to be done to deploy it.

Workshop video

Descriptive transcript

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Opportunities for Direct Engagement with Real-Time Text. Christian Vogler, Ph.D. Director, Technology Access Program, Gallaudet University, December 6, 2017]

[Jay Wyant and Christian Vogler are standing in a training room behind a podium. Next to them is a sign language interpreter. Jay begins to voice.] 

Jay >> I’m Jay Wyant, Chief Information Accessibility Officer for the State of Minnesota, and I am happy to welcome Christian Vogler. He is the head of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University. He came here to present about Real-Time Text. RTT. He will be talking about current data – it’s a long, complex process. Hopefully, it will happen soon – RTT. We have a 90 minutes presentation. So, he is not going to go overtime. 90 minutes, that’s it. We’ll be letting him know when there’s a 10-minute break. One more thing, I’m sure you have heard this but use an app on your devices to complete an evaluation. We’d appreciate your feedback. So please use the app. If you don’t have the app on your device, you can get the evaluation in paper from me. The evaluation is confidential. Thank you.

[Jay and the interpreter exit the camera's view. Christian begins to present.]

Christian >>Hello! Thank you. Thank you, Jay, for the introduction. So – as he already mentioned, I work for Gallaudet University. My perspective is academic. My presentation will be talking about what happened from academic research and development to companies and to the Federal Communications Commission regulations and so on. A lot of changes are happening right now. I had to revise my slides again to align with recent developments that came up. This is a hot topic and a lot of changes are happening right now. Ok. All right. So… I’ll briefly explain who I am, who we are, and what we do. Gallaudet University is a liberal arts college for the deaf and hard of hearing. We are a research group focused on technology for the deaf and hard of hearing. How to make technology more accessible. We have a strong goal. We want the deaf and hard of hearing people to be able to function equally as a hearing person. Whatever a hearing person can do, we can have the privilege to do the same. 

So far, there has been a lot of research on phone communications. Access to phone communication – but we also do a variety of topics. Today – Real-Time Text. RTT, in short. I’ll be saying RTT going forward.

This falls in the area of phone communication access. This will provide a lot of new opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing to gain as much access as a hearing person has.

Anyways, we have a team of five people working on this. You’ll see a picture of our lab. We have four researchers—two deaf and two hearing. If you want a summary of who I am… That. Professional troublemaker. We collaborate closely with a variety of companies with government agencies and deaf and hard of hearing consumer advocacy groups, as well. Often they don’t like to hear what we have to say. Too bad! We believe it is the right way.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "What we do *Deaf-led accessible communication technology R&D for people who are deaf or hard of hearing * Neutral and independent: We work with people from all modes of communication, and with a variety of stakeholders - Our mission is to make sure you can use the technology you want and need, irrespective of your preferences * Strong ties to consumers, industry & government agencies to translate research into practice"] 

Christian >> We want to emphasize that we’re neutral… regardless of the means of communication. It doesn’t matter if you sign or talk or use visual communications or auditory -- it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter which government agency. It doesn’t matter which company. If your goal is to support access for people with disabilities, we’ll work with you.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Overview * Real-time Text (RTT) - What is it? - What are the benefits? - Current status * RTT and direct engagement - Accessibility requirements today and in future - What is missing? - The role of RTT in direct communication with constituents * Next steps"]

Christian >> Today, our focus is on RTT. There are two parts to this presentation.

In the first part, I’ll be explaining what exactly RTT is and what’s up with that.

In the second part, I’ll be discussing how government agencies and other organizations could take advantage of RTT to improve communication for both people with disabilities and important people with disabilities. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "What is RTT" Then a screenshot of the following conversation, "Hello Christian, do you have a minute?" "Sure..." "Here you can see real-time text preview, invented by TAP member Norman Williams - you can see the message right here as I type th" "Neat!"]

Christian >> OK. I have a visual to show of RTT. In this visual, you will see a conversation using text going back and forward. This is different. As you can see on the bottom, there is a person that is currently typing. As he types, the message shows up. He has not finished his message. So, this means with RTT you can read exactly what the person is typing. What is being typed is being sent out at the same time. It types and sends at the same time. 

Basically, what I type is being sent out immediately. The other person can read it immediately. If… a hearing person … calls another person and use their voice. The other person hears this person speak. Sometimes the person would misspeak and self-correct. This concept applies to RTT.

With RTT you see what is being typed out and sometimes you will see mistakes, yes. You self-correct but the important thing is that it helps a lot

If a hearing person calls and the other end hears what this person is saying—he notices that his question is not being answered. The speaker is going off the point and the other person can tell the speaker to stop. Slow down, say “That’s not what I meant.”  This works out a better conversation.

RTT has this same concept. If you type something and a person notices you’re going off the point, this person can tell you to stop and try to reel it back to the right topic.

I’ll be explaining with more depth later—on what’s the difference between RTT and text messaging. Hold that for now.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "What is RTT. * The ability to have text flow and be instantly seen as it is typed - Just as speech does - Frequently looks like character by character transmission, but can be also in larger chunks - Real-time nature, with low delays, is key * Plus the ability to have text flow at the same time as you speak - Enables captioned telephony - Text to augment speech for hard-to-understand words or number strings"] 

Christian >> RTT has two important characteristics.

First, it sends out what you type immediately. You read it immediately. That means typing has no delay; the other person can read it immediately.

And the second important characteristic is that you can accommodate typing with voicing at the same time.

Some people are profoundly deaf like me, for example. I’ll only be able to use the typed part. But the people who use voice or those who are hard of hearing, those people will be able to use both at the same time. Sometimes they’ll speak. Sometimes they’ll type. Sometimes a person would speak and they can understand fine. Sometimes they would not be sure what the speaker means and they would type it. That could happen.

I have a few videos to show to help you understand what it really means. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Video examples * High-stress emergency situation, with people responding to partial content * Low-stress situation making a movie theater appointment that highlights better interactivity via RTT compared to message-based conversion. Link to AD version. Link to Non-AD version.]

Christian >> OK. I’ll be showing two videos. The first video will show two situations. 

The first situation is between deaf and hearing neighbors. Ok, the deaf house has a kid. This kid goes to the hearing neighbor’s house and interacts with them. The deaf neighbor just saw a tornado warning. In a hurry, he talks to the neighbor to make sure he knows and to make sure they are safe. There is no time for a longer process of communication. He needs to call and be connected immediately. 

[Video >> Various old TTY and telephone devices are shown, with the words "In the past" displayed onscreen. Then a new slide appears with the words, "Now to the future." Then a man is shown onscreen. A slider identifies him as Norman Williams, Senior Research Engineer, Technology Access Program. He begins to sign, "We have exciting news! FCC – Federal Communications Commission. FCC had a historical vote of 5-0 yesterday on a new communication technology—RTT. Real-time text for all of you, deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. For everyone out there. On new mobile phones, by next year—December 2017—you can type on a live phone call. The goal is to replace TTY with RTT everywhere in the next few years. Here’s what RTT looks like." The following RTT conversation is then shown. Visual of fingers typing on a keypad. The person who answers the phone responds with, "hello" Caller, "This is your neighbor. Are my kids with yours at your home?," while the first person types, "Yes they're here," Caller, "There is tornado warning in two mins.," while the first person types, "wow thanks!," first person continues, "You must.." while the first person says,  "will seek shelter now," and the caller replies, "whew."]

Christian >> OK. So, you’ve seen the video—You probably noticed a few things. First, the conversation is fast. Notice how the neighbor answered the phone and at the same time the typed text is being sent talking about the tornado warning. Before he finished typing, the neighbor answered telling him not to worry and that the kids are safe. People type/send messages together at the same time. 

If you communicate with a text message, this is what will happen: I’ll text that there is a tornado warning. I got to type the whole thing without the neighbor reading it. When I finish the text and send it, then the neighbor will get the message. The neighbor answers “Oh, OK. Thank you. We’re safe.” While he types this, I have to wait. Then he sends it and I get it. That’s prolonged. With RTT, you see the conversation is fast and fluid. 

OK. I don’t want to highlight RTT as being only for emergencies. No. It is also useful in other situations. 

The next video I’ll show is an informal conversation between two friends. They’re making plans to go to a movie theater. 

[Video >> Instant messenger (IM) style conversation begins. Christian, "So, let's talk about our plans today." The recipient is typing out, "So, we will meet at watch Star Wars Rogue Tonight! Any idea when and where?" We watch as Christian is typing (messenger says " typing") before his response appears, "I want to meet at Regal Chinatown next to Verizon Center. At 10:00 pm. My wife will come, too, I just asked her." The recipient rapidly types out, "No stop! I prefer open captions, not those caption glasses! Let's do AMC Germantown instead of 9 pm. They have OC." We watch as Christian is typing (messenger says " typing") before his response appears, "Ooops."]

[Video continues >> A different conversation begins in the RTT style. Christian, "So, let's talk about our plans today." The recipient is typing out, "So, we will meet and watch Star Wars Rogue tonight! Any idea when an-" Christian: "I want to meet at the Regal Chinatown next to-" "-d where?. Recipient: "No.. Stop. I-" Christian: "Verizon and .. oh?" Recipient: "] prefer open captions. Not those caption glasses" Christian: "Ok, let's do AMC Germantown! Will ask wife too" Recipient: "Great. Let me know!"]

Christian >> OK. What you just saw here had two examples for comparison. The first example is your regular back and forward texting. The friend told me to go to that movie theater and that he will tell his wife to meet at that movie theater. Then after I read it, I tell him to go to the other movie theater. But he already told his wife. Now, he's got to tell his wife the change of plans.

The second example is RTT. Both people can see what is being typed at the same time. I told I want to go there and my friend interrupted me. He tells me to go to the other theater. 

That situation avoided misunderstandings. 

There is one more video I want to show. So far, RTT focuses on typing only. Now, I’ll show an example of how RTT combined with voice will help. In the next video, you’ll see an example where a doctor’s office calls a hard of hearing person. The hard of hearing person can hear on the phone and understands most of it but sometimes they misunderstand something. 

So, the doctor office uses RTT to send a message, ensuring the person understands completely. 

[Video >> Graphic with two text boxes and a pointed arrow between them. First box, "Doctor's Office. Making a real-time text call with voice to Ms. Smith." The arrow points to the second box, "Ms. Smith (Hard of Hearing). Receiving a real-time text call with voice from her Doctor's office."] 

[Video continues >> A woman appears with a phone headset in her ear. She is speaking on the phone, "Hi Ms. Smith - We changed your appointment to this afternoon." (Ms. Smith, off-screen, "OK see you in 20 minutes.) The woman says, "Uh, not until this afternoon, Ms. Smith." She then proceeds to text on her phone (linked to the headset). A box appears onscreen, showing what the woman is texting, "The appointment is this afternoon." (Ms. Smith, off-screen, "Yes, see you at the office soon.") Woman: "Uh, Ms. Smith, please look at your phone." (Ms. Smith, off-screen, "Oh I see. This afternoon? I thought it was this morning." Woman: "Uh, no, we moved it to 3:00... (types '3:00.')]

[Video continues >> Acknowledgments. The contents of this video were developed in part with funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education, grant number H133E040013 (RERC on Telecommunications Access). However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. The call was made using ACEApp. For more information on RTT. Credits: Technology Access Program, Gallaudet University.]

Christian >> So, you saw a hard of hearing person thought the appointment was confirmed for this morning. This person is ready to go to the doctor’s office this morning. The doctor’s office noticed that this person had misunderstood and she typed to clarify that it is an afternoon appointment. By the way, if you have any questions—please feel free to ask me anytime. You can interrupt me. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "RTT calls differ from text messaging in key ways." (two screenshots of conversations, one is RTT, the other is IM)]

Christian >> OK, as I’ve mentioned, RTT and text messaging are different. Now, I’ll be explaining with, more clarity, of how these two are different. I have many experiences with many people who are not sure why we need RTT when we already have text messaging. 

You know, most of you, maybe all of you use text messages often. It doesn’t matter if you’re hearing, deaf, or hard of hearing. We all text often. Even though you’re hearing and you use text—that’s fine. But, often hearing people make voice calls. In many different situations, text messages are usually informal and more casual. You send text messages saying “Hello. What’s up?” and so on. 

Sometimes you don’t expect the other end to read it immediately. Sometimes you have to wait an hour or two hours for the person to read it and respond. Sometimes something comes up in the conversation and the person has to go and will not respond for a while. Later, in three, four hours, or tomorrow the person comes back and the conversation is continued. 

With voiced calls, the situation requires the conversation to happen now. You have to have a full conversation and you have to make sure you get the person’s attention and discuss until the issues, whatever it is, is resolved. 

So, the text messaging is accessible to the deaf/hard of hearing while the voice calls are not fully accessible as of now. So, RTT is connected with voice calls. This concept makes sure whether you’re hearing, deaf, or hard of hearing, [with RTT] the voice calls are more accessible. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "* RTT is for making voice telephone calls accessible * Messaging is used more informally, you can respond whenever"]

Christian >> OK. The goal is whenever you give the voiced phone number, it would allow the people to call you. The goal is also to allow RTT to be used at anytime a call happens. So, if you can’t speak on the phone or can’t hear on the phone, you can use RTT. OK. Now, I have a question. If you don’t mind, raise your hands if you’ve heard of TTY. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "* RTT is a huge advance over TTYs - Works on IP telecom networks - Both sides can type at the same time - Can talk and type or receive text at the same time - Full Unicode character support - Can transmit faster than you type - You know if text has been garbled"]  

Christian >> So, RTT technology exists because we have to replace the TTY. You have to. It’s not optional. TTY is a fifty-year-old technology. It started showing up for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the 1960s, 1970s. Back then, the release of this made phone communication accessible first time for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. But, it has a lot of downsides and many limitations. 

The biggest, the most severe downside is that TTY does not work for internet phone calls. If you make a TTY call on the internet, you run a high risk of having the text garbled. 

Also, many people have moved on to more advanced technology. Many people are now using captioned telephone and video relay services. 

These are excellent technology but they have a big downside, as well. With TTY, you can place a direct call with a person without a third party. Both video relay service and captioned telephone involve a third party to conduct the call.

For example, the video relay service—I’d be talking through a sign language interpreter. With the captioned telephone, you receive the captions through an operator who talks to an automatic speech recognition system. 

Both of these are not perfectly accurate. For example, the interpreter sometimes does not understand what I’m saying. 

For example, suppose I have a deep and complicated conversation about a medical issue or a legal question. If the interpreter doesn’t know the subject, the interpreter will be prone to misunderstandings. That will mangle the conversation.

Captioned telephones have a lot of issues with errors and delays.

So, these services are great but not perfect. Sometimes it’s better to have a direct conversation. A direct communication with a person because he is an expert and I know exactly what I want. Better to have a direct conversation.

In the past, that was the TTY. Now TTY is obsolete. TTY does not work on the internet. TTY is slow. Very limited. And so on. It’s time to replace that with RTT.

Here are two examples of how RTT is much better than TTY. First, with RTT, you can type and send at the same time. You can interrupt each other since you type at the same time. With the TTY, you have to wait for your turn because typing at the same time would garble the conversation.

Second, TTY only works for American English. If you call a minority who has a different language and possibly uses a different alphabet, the TTY doesn’t work. You can’t communicate with that person.

With RTT, you can. It supports Unicode completely. Unicode—which means it supports any language in the world. If your phone supports that language, that means RTT will support that language too. So if, for example, you call a person who speaks Chinese, RTT will communicate with them. It works.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "RTT: Potential Benefits * Can call anyone with mainstream phone: - Without them needing a special phone or software installed on their phone - Call your government agency - and use text - Call the pizza place - and use text - Call our neighbors, the pool, wherever, to find our children when a tornado approaches - Call for help from others if 911 not available - Call a stranger - call a friend - call our extended family - all without them having to have a special phone * Get rid of limitations of TTYs"]

Christian >> I’ll cover some benefits of RTT, why it is good for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and why it’s good to provide access. 

Here are several examples. The most important thing—the most significant thing is that RTT will become available on every mobile phone. We’re getting there soon. 

Compare this with the past when the TTY was a special equipment for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. If someone wanted to communicate with a (deaf/hard of hearing) person, he/she or a government agency had to go a buy a TTY and set it up.  

Many people said, “No, thanks. It’s too much work or too expensive. I’m not interested.”

RTT is on every phone. That’s different. That means in the future, every person will be able to send and receive RTT. You don’t need special equipment anymore. That means for the first time deaf and hard of hearing people will have more access to communications just like a hearing person with a phone. So, we should be able to call a government agency effortlessly. Or call a company and order a pizza. Call whoever we want. A neighbor to meet at the pool. Anything. 

If 911 is not available for any reason—I’m going to give an example of that. Emergencies can happen anywhere. If there’s a long wait on the phone and I need immediate help, I can tell my neighbor to come and help. 

To the point, this has a lot of benefits for the deaf and hard of hearing. OK. RTT actually can be beneficial for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. I’m going to show you how it can benefit hearing people.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "RTT: Potential Benefits * Benefits for everyone: - Fast phone trees: transmit options as RTT - Easier way to give a phone number or credit card number - Easier way to spell their name for someone - much faster than "V as in Victor, A as in Alpha" - A more private way to give confidential information or their name or phone number with eavesdroppers nearby - Way to communicate reliably in any noisy situation - Way to communicate silently if a home invasion if hiding"]

Christian >> First of all, I really hope people will adopt this idea: Often a call would be connected to a phone tree. “Press one for English. Press two for Spanish.” Press for English. “Please listen carefully for your options. These changed recently. Press one customer service. Press two for sales. Press three for an officer. Press four for complaints. Press five for insanity and professional help.” You go through this tree. It’s terrible. You have to wait and listen a long time. When you press your button, you just listen to it again. So, if every phone has RTT, what it’ll do is that it could send a list of options before speaking. You can read the options immediately—RTT. 

Reading has two upsides. First, for most people, reading is faster. Second, it is easier to search and find the option I want. I can avoid waiting and listening.

Another example is when you need to provide your credit card number or a phone number. If you’re speaking, the person on the other end has to remember it or write it down. If you send the information by using RTT, it’ll be easier for the other person to receive it. 

Also, if you spell out a name over a phone, you’ll need to provide phonetic help such as “V as in Victor, A as in Alpha,” and so on. People misspell my last name and my wife’s last name often. It’s just easier to type and send names.

Or suppose you book a flight through an airline and they ask for your credit card number. When there are people around, they can hear you speaking on your mobile phone. They’ll hear your credit card number. There’s no privacy. If you type it, it’s private. Nobody can read your text and get your number.

This also helps when you’re in a noisy environment. Suppose you’re making a call next to a jackhammer, it would be impossible to have a verbal conversation. The other end will not hear anything. Typing and sending your message will help. 


Unknown audience member >> You’ll probably be talking about this later, but are there current laws regarding RTT?

Christian >> Yes. I’ll be mentioning that later. OK. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Current Status * FCC released wireless RTT rules in 12/2016 - RTT+voice part of the same call - Backward compatible with TTY - RFC4103 safe harbor technical standard - Phase-in 12/2017-12/2019 for tier-1 carriers - Further notice of proposed rulemaking on relay services, deafblind access, TTY sunset"]

Christian >> I just explained a lot of the pros about adopting RTT. Now, I’ll be giving a brief summary of what is happening right now. 

As of right now, the FCC is working on replacing TTY with RTT. They’re making new rules on the mobile phones. Yes, mobile devices. In short, they require giving the phone companies options—to continue supporting TTY or switch to RTT.  All phone companies will definitely switch to RTT. The phone companies hate the TTY requirement. 

If they switch, they are required to support RTT and voice features in the same call. And they must be backward compatible with TTY. Backward compatible. TTY is the old technology, RTT is the new technology. If I use RTT, I must be able to call a TTY. More specifically, 911 and 711 relay services.

All of the phone companies that provide RTT are required to be able to interoperate. Yes, interoperate. Interoperate has a very simple definition. Suppose I use AT&T, you use Verizon, and you use Sprint—we should still be able to use RTT to call each other.

You may remember that when the mobile devices first showed up, the different companies couldn’t call each other. That has been resolved. This requirement makes sure that this isn’t an issue with RTT. With RTT, we will be able to call each other.

Somebody just asked me how that works. Technology standard, or open standard, everybody uses it. It’s called RFC4103. It interoperates perfectly with voice over IP phone communications. That means, if the company supports VoIP it’s easy for the company to support that technology. It’s very easy. It’s the same as if it supports video and voice; it’s easy to add this. 

That’ll be important later in the second part of the presentation focusing on what the government agencies can do. 

We’re getting back to what is happening right now. Remember when I mentioned that the FCC had released new rules? It will be effective three weeks from now. On December 32—sorry. 31. 

The big four phone companies—Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile must support RTT as of December 31st. Some of the other subjects are still being investigated by the FCC. Ok.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "RTT: 12/31/2017 * First roll-out deadline is in just 3 weeks * The Big Four phone carriers must at a minimum make a downloadable app available on one phone * Eventually we will switch to built-in RTT on phones (2018-2019) * Hot off the presses: iOS 11.2 supports RTT on Verizon (screenshot of the RTT/TTY feature in the Accessibility section of a mobile device)"

Christian >> So, as I’ve mentioned it’s 3 weeks later. Very soon! 

The first step is a baby step. The phone companies will make a downloadable app available. Later in 2019, all new phones must have built-in RTT. 

The downloadable app is temporary. Two years from now, the phones will have it built-in. It’s interesting to see some phone companies start offering downloadable apps. Other phone companies have started the built-in with the phone makers.

The recent iOS 11.2 upgrade with Verizon phones let you use RTT. You can see that it shows up on your options. If you turn it on and make a voice call to another person with RTT, an icon will show up on the phone screen. Clicking on this icon will turn on RTT. Some of my friends have tested and verified it. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "RTT: 12/31/2017 * Even hotter off the presses: AT&T published their RTT app on the Play store today - with the iOS version pending approval.]

Christian >> Just today—this morning, AT&T published their app on the android store. It’s available now, I’ve already checked. As for iOS, they’re still waiting for approval. 

Any questions so far? Jay.

Jay >> So for someone who uses an Android phone with Sprint, you’re saying that if I want the app, but if I don’t use the iPhone, can I download the app on January 1st?

Christian >> I can’t speak for Sprint. I don’t know what they’re doing. Two things are happening… you probably can go to the Android store and find an app for Sprint. Find an app for Sprint. Possibility… another possibility is that maybe Sprint will say “sorry, we don’t support old Android phones right now.” Or maybe they’ll support only iPhones. I don’t know for now. The first step requires them only to support one phone. AT&T seems to be supporting a variety of phones right now. I hope Sprint is the same but I can’t confirm that. I don’t know what they’re doing right now. Wait until December 31st and find out. Any questions? No. OK.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Opportunities for Direct Engagement. RTT will be on every wireless phone - no matter if you're deaf or hearing. How can we use that? How could an agency handle RTT calls?"]

Christian >> Remember this point—RTT will be on every mobile phone in the future. It’s starting now and it will continue with an end date in 2019. That’s for the big phone companies. The small companies have to be ready by 2021. 

So, as I mentioned, this is the first time a regular phone will be fully accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing using voice calls. It’s an exciting opportunity and a great win. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Laws & Rules. * Federal and state agencies have TTYs - Both from ADA and old Section 508 * VoIP communications are covered by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act * New Section 508 defers to FCC on RTT - But has reserved a section for future direct incorporation of RTT requirements"]

Christian >> I’ll begin to briefly talk about the legal situation right now. So, we have ADA Title II, and of course, Section 508. 

Two things: So far, many federal and state agencies have TTYs. Of course, less and less people use TTY. Many of them have put the TTY in a corner and let the dust gather. They don’t use them for calls anymore, they are just sitting there.

Second, Voice over IP communications is under a completely different law. This law is the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act, CVAA for short. CVAA. 

This law basically says if you provide an advanced communication service, then it must be accessible. Voice over IP, RTT, and video communications all are under “advanced communication service.” 

This does not force you to provide RTT. Correct, it does not force you to provide RTT. But if you do provide RTT, you have to make sure it’s accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, blind, and so on. 

Now, this part is where it gets complicated. Jay, just before lunch, Jay was talking about Section 508. He talked about the changes. He mentioned the changes in phone communications and asked me to talk about it. So, I’ll be talking a bit about what is happening. Unfortunately, as of right now, there is a lot of confusion. The old language in Section 508 said, “You have to provide voice communications and a TTY.” 

The new Section 508 removed the TTY language and they’re saying they will hold off on RTT until later. 

The (U.S.) Access Board said that there are too many changes happening and they’re not ready to put it in Section 508. They’re waiting for FCC to figure it out. They’re waiting to see what happens over there and will come back to it later. So I can’t predict what will happen. 

Please don’t hold me to this but this is what I think will happen—As FCC figures out what to do with RTT for mobile phones, they will be looking at Section 255 for phone communications access. We don’t know but after they figure that out, they might go back to Section 508 to make sure they both work together.

Anyways, even though Section 508 is vague, if you provide fully accessible services to all citizens, then you need to make sure you provide as many communication options as possible. Even though the legal requirement is not currently there, I encourage you to proactively think about how to make RTT available. Two reasons: First, access. The other reason is that it will benefit everyone. 

Now, I will talk about what could happen in the near future. How, today—or soon, government organizations or agencies can receive a call from a mobile user using RTT? How can I get that call? 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Possible Communication Flows. Wireless RTT user to TTY at Agency." (image of an RTT conversation, then a red arrow pointing to a TTY) "Expect to see a short-term increase in TTY calls at agencies - RTT and TTYs are required to be able to call each other"]

Christian >> The first situation you see is a customer with a mobile phone using RTT to call the agency and the agency receives the call through a TTY. That is expected to work because FCC requires these two to be interoperable. This, however, is an easy and cheap way out.

I don’t recommend this because you become stuck with an old, severely limited technology for a while. This is not my idea of a good service. It forces you to type slowly and it’s limited. No. 

But, if you do have a TTY… what could happen in the near future is that you start receiving more calls. Like I mentioned, many of these TTYs are abandoned and gathering dust. Now is a good time to check your TTY call handling protocols and make sure it works. Make sure somebody knows how to use it. Jay.

Jay >> So, I’m curious. TTY is an ancient technology. How does “same-time” communications work? If you interrupt, how does that work?

Christian >> OK. I’ll tell you what I want and then I’ll tell you what the phone companies agreed to do. 

When RTT connects with TTY, the problem is when they both type at the same time—the RTT user doesn’t know that the other end is a TTY. The RTT user would think they’re typing at the same time but this will scramble the conversation. 

So, in that situation, you just got to make sure both ends wait for their turn to type. This is another reason why you should throw out the TTY and figure out how to offer RTT in your office. 

Let’s move on to the second situation. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Possible Communication Flows. Wireless RTT user to agency RTT terminal." (Screenshot of a one RTT conversation and then a red arrow pointing to another RTT conversation) "Requires your agency's VoIP system to interwork with the wireless carriers"]

Christian >> Again, we’re talking about mobile phones. The agency sets up a software that supports RTT. 

It’s already part of the software that is available today. I have some on my phone right there. If there’s time after the presentation, I welcome you to come and play with it yourself. 

The software is available and it works through the Internet. This software uses the exact same technology as mobile phones. It sends and receives RTT. It sends and receives audio.

The FCC rule mentions one standard for interoperating, RFC4103. RFC4103. The software supports this and the mobile phone, as well. It will interoperate. 

One thing is missing right now—one thing is missing. We have to set up a connection between the phone company and the VoIP provider for your agency. 

I don’t know what the companies are using but suppose the provider is Vonage then they have to figure out an agreement with the phone company to add RTT. Connect to it.

But again, I want to emphasize with the technology of today, it’s not hard to do it. It’s not hard to do. Technology is not hard. OK. This is the goal for the future. It takes time to establish this and to get the software edited and developed. 

If you’re ambitious and you’re looking for immediate benefits, you have a third option. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Possible Communication Flows. Web-based RTT user to web-based agency RTT. (Screenshot of a web-based call with a red arrow pointing to another web-based call with video.] "You can integrate RTT into web-based communication today to let anyone use it while calling you - even if they don't have a wireless phone."]

Christian >> The third option is, some of you already know this. For example, a company such as Amazon and other companies; they’ve set up a web-based communication system. Once you have a problem, you connect through a website. A lot of website communication systems are already out there. Some offer video and audio. Some are starting to offer RTT. 

The nice thing about a website-based system is you could set it up tomorrow. It’s already there. There’s so many available.

That means the mobile phone user can’t use their phone right now. You have to send the user to the webpage. They have to connect to be provided with services. Whether or not they’re disabled or not disabled; they can use voice, video, or RTT. 

So, you got three options. It seems that you have to make some effort to figure out how to plan for that. You may have to purchase some software and figure out how to keep it operating. A lot of work, maybe. 

I’m emphasizing again on why it’s so important. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Why do this? * Because otherwise, your agency won't be accessible to all! - TTYs are 50-year old technology and use has declined * Because direct communication without intermediaries will give you better results - Relay calls are too depending on the skills of the relay operator/interpreter *Because RTT is much more immediate and interactive than back and forth messaging - You'll complete sessions much faster * Because RTT is a way to make phone trees more efficient and less painful - Transmitting options as RTT is faster than speaking them"] 

Christian >> First-- the top reason, you’re supposed to be accessible. Right? You must be accessible. If you don’t provide this, you’re not fully accessible. A voice phone number is not enough. You should provide an option for direct communication. As I’ve mentioned, a third party on video or captioned telephone can mangle the conversation sometimes. Direct conversation minimizes the risk of miscommunication. 

Some companies and agencies have set up a text chat on their websites. If you have that, consider RTT. The reason is that conversation would be faster and fluid than when you read and start thinking of a response as the other person types.

If it’s a conventional forth and back text chat, you don’t have that option. With RTT you speed up the conversation. And I’m telling you it’s a lot more fun too. 

Lastly, even if you neglect people with disabilities, I know you all care about but suppose you didn’t care about them. RTT also benefits people who can hear. For example, the phone tree!

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Next steps. * Technology is there today -  you could take steps toward deploying RTT tomorrow * The biggest remaining task is interworking wireless and wired RTT * RTT is standards-based on RFC4103 - which is part of the SIP and IMS/VoLTE worlds - So interworking actually is more a question of the will to get it done * You can and should ask wireless carriers to interwork with your VoIP technologies"]

Christian >> What has to happen. The technology is ready. Anyone can start to get going right now. The biggest remaining task is to figure out how the VoIP provider and RTT connect with mobile phones. The technology standards are there. Both the VoIP *video cuts*

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Next steps: * In the meantime you have options -- none of these constitute an endorsement by me: * Deploy clients in a SIP environment - E.g. eCTouch, PUC, some video relay service clients, Linphone, and others * Deploy web-based methods - E.g. ACE Direct, SOLVES, eCWeb, and others * Many of these offer all-in-one: video, audio, RTT * Whatever you do, review your TTY call handling protocols"]

Christian >> So, I want to share some specific names of software we have today. If you’re interested, you can explore these today. 

All of the mentioned software is either the ones I know and used or the ones my friends and coworkers use. 

But to be clear, my talking about these software does not mean I endorse it. It’s just information. This is not a complete list. There are other companies out there that are starting to work on this.

If you set up RTT in its own VoIP environment, these are some of the options you have. One is eCTouch. eCTouch. I have it here. Then we have PUC… SIP, yes. OK. Jay asked what SIP means. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. That specifies how any VoIP phones and new mobile phones can set up a connection.

The first is eCTouch. PUC. Make sure you Google for more. Some video relay services also offer this. And open source. Open source Linphone also offers this. 

Second, you have options of the web-based services. First, the ACE Direct—this was developed by a contract with the FCC. MITRE. MITRE developed this. It’s available today. You can download it and set it up today. 

Other companies that provide services with a similar concept are SOLVES, eCWeb, and a lot of others. 

One of the cool things about these options is that most of them support all three—video, audio, and RTT. Three in one. 

So, you got to think big. Don’t focus on just audio and RTT. Suppose you hire a lot of deaf signers, you can use the video to hire some who signs. This set up will do videos, too. Plus RTT. Plus audio. It’s got everything. 

Basically whatever you do—again I’m emphasizing—review your TTY protocols. If you still got the TTY, review the protocols for you probably could get some calls. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Summary. * RTT has the potential to significantly streamline your communications and improve accessibility * RTT will be on wireless phones, no matter what * Many companies have implemented RTT into their platforms or are starting to implement it, among them federal contractors.]

Christian >> So, I want you to think about three things. One, RTT can make communication much more efficient and more accessible. Two, RTT is coming to mobile phones. No matter what, it will come. 

Many companies are starting to implement RTT in their software and their platforms. 

I’m letting you know that RTT is also an important part of the next generation 911. A lot of areas are starting to implement this. Some federal contracts are looking into this too. 

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Discussion questions. * What opportunities and potential barriers do you see for deploying RTT? * What can we do to get RTT requirements into telecommunications contracts at agencies? * Others?"]

Christian >> In general, my perspective is academic. From the University’s perspective. I work closely with the users because they want it.

I know what the phone companies are planning to do. I know what the government is planning to do. But what I don’t know is the perspective of state agencies, agencies who closely interact with their clients. 

So, I’m going to give two discussion points. You don’t have to follow this. If you have any other questions or ideas, that’s fine. Go ahead.

The two discussion questions, from the perspective of an agency: what opportunities and barriers do you see for deploying RTT? And—how do we make sure in the future, when setting up a new contract for a phone communication service, to include RTT? Go. Quiet. Does this mean I’ve overwhelmed you? Jay. 

Jay >> The defining factor, from my perspective, is that Section 508 is that the hardware requirements in Section 508 require full accessibility. So the hardware intervention in Section 508, what we should do is ask the VOIP vendors, what are you doing? And they said we will get back to you later. They are presenting this Friday. What I plan to do is ask and hopefully find out soon about their plan for RTT. From the hardware perspective, I think it can be supported? But for the wireless perspective, it won’t be easy.  

Christian >> Thank you for your comments. It’s nice to see some positivity. So, I’ve always said that the hardware should be ready because most of the phones have a screen. If it has a screen, any recent hardware will be able to develop software to receive and show RTT. Also, some of the hardware has the ability to connect an exterior keyboard through Bluetooth. It’s a part of the requirement for accessibility, anyways.

Suppose there’s a blind person who uses braille—braille… that means it should be able to connect with any keyboards. If you got both, the screen and the keyboard then RTT will not require much computing power. Most of the hardware has these two things. A screen and a keyboard. It should be able to support RTT. 

So, my view is don’t ask the hardware manufacturers—the hardware will support it. Instead, ask “What about your software?”


Wait for the interpreter. 

Off-screen audience member >> With new RTT, with VoIP compatibility, the new phone tree integrates with VoIP. As phone system, VoIP separates video and audio.

Christian >> You’re right. The software ACE Direct was developed by the FCC for that specific purpose. To integrate video and voice calls into one. 

Off-screen audience member >> The speaking part is similar to autoplay for screen readers attached to their (blind people) phones. So, if you’re listening to a call and you get a text at the same time…how can blind users pause the screen reader so you don’t get both at the same time?

Christian >> Excellent question. That is an issue right now. FCC has established an advisory committee. It’s called the Disability Advisory Committee, DAC for short. DAC looked into that issue recently—they’re looking into how to make sure that RTT is fully accessible to people who are blind. And how to interoperate it with the screen reader and braille. 

There will be a roundtable next year, I’m guessing around February. I’m not quite sure yet. They’ll be getting people from manufacturers, phone companies, screen reader manufacturers, and braille manufacturers. They all are getting together to figure out how to better delegate responsibilities and to decide who does what. 

What we know right now is that it is technically possible. I know that because the DeafBlind community has used that system in the past—based on IP --It will happen. It has to happen. If it doesn’t happen that means it’s breaking the law.

Jay >> This is Jay again. You asked me about barriers. One barrier is culture because when we talk about RTT, we can forget about the relay services. If we focus on the texting part, we forget about the videophone and call directly but that person could try signing and we don’t know if there’s a person who can read sign language. So what can we do? Hope the person is smart enough to say, “I don’t understand sign language, please type what you are telling me?” We need to have a lot of training and a lot of cultural developments. Will that happen in the future? 

Christian >> There’s one way how we can avoid confusion—to make sure there’s no confusion. If an agency or organization is not ready to sign, don’t offer video. Only offer audio and RTT. That’s one way.

Some people will object. Some people prefer to sign and that’s fine. But, you got to start at step one. Figure out the next step after that. With RTT, you’re reaching out to a larger potential audience. 

OK. I know there’s not much time left. I see a lot of people scribbling in their notes and getting ready to leave. But, I’m letting you know that if you want to play with some of the technology I have right now—if you want to stay a bit and take a look to see what it looks like, go ahead.

[PowerPoint Slide: Gallaudet University's logo is on the top. Beneath is the following text, "Questions. * Questions? Comments? * Contact us: * Gallaudet University Technology Access Program * Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center * The contents of this presentation were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5020-02). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this presentation do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government."]

Jay >> This is Jay. One question I wanted to ask for clarification. With mobile phone technology, does RTT work with 3D and 4D? Sorry interpreter error—3G or 4G? So, if the 3G is connected, you can’t use it. Right?

Christian >> RTT supports 4G and WiFi. That’s the reason why RTT is starting to spread right now. More phone companies want to offer WiFi calls. AT&T did their own investigations and they found out that it’s impossible to use TTY through WiFi calls. So, they’re stuck. By offering WiFi calls, it means they’re breaking the rule. 

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