Popular telecommunication services for the Deaf in Japan

Telephone relay service is demonstrated. A Deaf user communicates with an operator (right) in sign language through a computer display.
(photo: http://www.yomidr.yomiuri.co.jp/)

October 23, 2013

The service which supports the Deaf person's communication with a hearing counterpart is developed successively with the telecommunication apparatus such as a  video phone, a smart phone, etc. It is popular because it helps a smooth exchange of information between the Deaf person and a hearing.

Nippon Foundation began  a "telephone relay service" in a tentative way since September. Currently 240 Deaf persons use it now.

Business with comparatively high urgency is assumed as a use scene. For example, when a credit card is lost and contact a financial institution, unexpected change in a travel reservation, a medical appointment, etc.

The questionnaire survey conducted for the Deaf persons  (147 respondetants) in 2008 showed that three in four persons answered it difficult for telephone contact so that they gave up application procedure.

The telephone relay service will continue until March, next year. The Foundation will request the introduction as a public service from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications depending on reactions of the users.

There is also a service which supports the conversation using functions, such as a smart phone.

The application which the independent administrative agency "National Institute of Information and Communications Technology universal communication research center was developed, called "Koetora" (こえとら). It has been public since June.

With "Koetora," which is downloadable for free at the apple company store, texts and sounds are alternatively used.

It has been downloaded more than 4,000 times for four months after public presentation. The research manager is surprised, saying, "We did not expected that."

However, it is pointed out that though it is desirable to become easy to carry out communication by progress of technology, it is necessary to think hard about a society as a whole since it remains a problem whether a financial institution accepts the interpreting operator of a telephone relay service to be the person himself/herself for example.

Japanese source:

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