Apple, AT&T partner to assist deaf with iPhone 4 and FaceTime

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple and AT&T have teamed with ZVRS to bring video relay calling for deaf and hard-of-hearing users via the iPhone 4 and its FaceTime video chat functionality.



Video relay services allow deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired people to communicate with hearing people in real-time, via a sign language interpreter. In addition to hardware, ZVRS makes video relay software for both Macs and PCs. And with the help of Apple and AT&T, it will now bring its latest software -- dubbed iZ -- to the iPhone 4.



ZVRS on Wednesday hosted a private party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia, Penn., to announce iZ, which will be released on July 26, 2010 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Further details on the service, including whether it will work over a regular cellular data connection, were not provided. Currently, FaceTime is only available over Wi-Fi.



Amy Cohen Efron of Deaf World as Eye See It wrote about Wednesday's event on her blog. She said that Carl Gustin, former chief marketing officer with Apple from 1988 to 1994 current ZVRS board member, worked with his former company and AT&T to put the plan in motion.



Karen Putz, who writes A Deaf Mom Shares Her World, was also present at this week's event with ZVRS. She said hundreds of people watched as three members of the audience made video relay calls live from the stage.



"It was absolutely amazing to watch each of them communicate via using a cell phone," Putz wrote. "How many of us have dreamed of that day? The day is here!"



Dr. T. Alan Hurwitz, former president of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, places a ZVRS call on iPhone 4 Wednesday. Photo courtesy ZVRS.



Apple previously touted the ability of the iPhone 4 and FaceTime to help people who speak through sign language communicate with one another. The company released a commercial in early June which included two people signing to one another via the forward-facing camera found in the iPhone 4.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    I'm not deaf nor hearing impaired, or have any good friends or family that are. But this stuff chokes me up. Even the commercial from June.



    It just seems like the simple communication world is really opening up for the rather large subset of humanity that is out there.



    It would be sweet, with lots of hurdles I'm sure, if FaceTime could be made available not just on wi-fi, but over 3G etc. to those that require it for daily communication. But it would be right.
  • Reply 2 of 39
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    So what kind of service plan are they offering for this? Do you still have to pay the monthly fee for voice service?



    (I don't understand why Apple doesn't sell the iPhone unsubsidized in the US, unlocked. Is AT&T that worried that a significant number of people will buy these and go with the only other quasi-option, T-Mobile?)
  • Reply 3 of 39
    Apple has made this protocol open source and free to use by other manufacturers. It ought to be required by law to be included on every phone under the anti-descriminiation acts of the various advanced countries. I think Apple will be able to get compression issues under control and this will work over 3g too which will be an even bigger advance.



    Well done Apple, this is the most important innovation on a phone since the iPhone was first launched.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Good to know that the hearing impaired can now actually use a "phone". Who would have thought that when AG Bell among others first cooked up the telephone a long time ago.
  • Reply 5 of 39
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheBestMan View Post


    It just seems like the simple communication world is really opening up for the rather large subset of humanity that is out there.



    I think the deaf community will just text like everyone else. Just like they always have.
  • Reply 6 of 39
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dlux View Post


    So what kind of service plan are they offering for this? Do you still have to pay the monthly fee for voice service?



    (I don't understand why Apple doesn't sell the iPhone unsubsidized in the US, unlocked. Is AT&T that worried that a significant number of people will buy these and go with the only other quasi-option, T-Mobile?)



    Easier said than done when have "Exclusivity and contract" involved...
  • Reply 7 of 39
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post


    Good to know that the hearing impaired can now actually use a "phone". Who would have thought that when AG Bell among others first cooked up the telephone a long time ago.



    Yea, cuz texting hasn't been on phones for ages.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post


    Good to know that the hearing impaired can now actually use a "phone". Who would have thought that when AG Bell among others first cooked up the telephone a long time ago.



    Hopefully Bell himself.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by All Day Breakfast View Post


    Apple has made this protocol open source and free to use by other manufacturers. It ought to be required by law to be included on every phone under the anti-descriminiation acts of the various advanced countries.



    Section 508 ( http://www.section508.gov/ ) has spelled out accessibility requirements for web pages but the regulations are almost universally ignored. Even though the government is required by law to ensure that all contractors who build web content for any entity that receives federal funding comply with all the regulations, they seldom do. So yeah, make it a law, but maybe they should start by enforcing the laws they already have. There are about 10 million deaf or blind people in the US. I know a few quite well.
  • Reply 10 of 39
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post


    Yea, cuz texting hasn't been on phones for ages.



    Right and texting is a very personal experience. I have a deaf cousin who does have a phone to use for texting but but despite that he always says he has never truly used a phone even though he has one. Deaf people communicate well and on a personal level through sign language and seeing and reading someone's lips. I showed him my iPhone and let him experience FaceTime. He loved it so much he went out and bought one and is talking his hearing impaired friends into getting iPhone 4s also. His mom who lives in another state is planning on getting an iPhone for the sole purpose of communicating better and more personally with her son.



    Thank you Mr. Sensitivity for your very insightful and well thought opinion.



    Jerk!
  • Reply 11 of 39
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,088member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post


    Yea, cuz texting hasn't been on phones for ages.



    You really don't "get it" do you?
  • Reply 12 of 39
    Yes, Facetime makes it easier, but this is nothing new.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videophone



    (I know....it's a Wikipedia reference....just read it anyway)
  • Reply 13 of 39
    storneostorneo Posts: 101member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post


    yes, facetime makes it easier, but this is nothing new.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/videophone



    (i know....it's a wikipedia reference....just read it anyway)



    Who cares if the idea isn't new? It's being implemented in a usable way now which makes it new! That's like comparing a new/better wheel to the original caveman wheel.
  • Reply 14 of 39
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,729member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Section 508 ( http://www.section508.gov/ ) has spelled out accessibility requirements for web pages but the regulations are almost universally ignored. Even though the government is required by law to ensure that all contractors who build web content for any entity that receives federal funding comply with all the regulations, they seldom do. So yeah, make it a law, but maybe they should start by enforcing the laws they already have. There are about 10 million deaf or blind people in the US. I know a few quite well.



    And the web would be a better place for it. Technology, and the web in particular are great enablers. Technology can also achieve the opposite (traditionally FLASH being the big culprit, as well as ignorant coding).
  • Reply 15 of 39
    ghostface147ghostface147 Posts: 1,629member
    FaceTime is a joke for the vast majority. There are niches that it will serve very well, as proven in this article. What's the other niche? FacePorn.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    FaceTime is a joke for the vast majority. There are niches that it will serve very well, as proven in this article. What's the other niche? FacePorn.



    If you're not going to use it, then don't use it and quit b!tching about it. Why do you have to be a jerk about something some people will actually use? Just coz you don't find it useful doesn't mean others won't. Since you obviously dont care about video calls, why should it matter to you whatever people will use FaceTime for?
  • Reply 17 of 39
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post


    (traditionally FLASH being the big culprit, as well as ignorant coding).





    Shoot the messenger. Flash can display closed captioning if you want to spend the time to provided it. Agencies charge Around $10 a minute to re-encode your Flash movie with captions. People don't want to pay for it. I have never seen any option for CC on Apple's site. Maybe it is there I just haven't seen it.



    But on the subject of accessibility for the blind, on government sites you are supposed to have audio descriptions of the action in the video sort of like Vince Scully does play by play for radio audience. Flash is more problematic for blind people though, as you say ignorant coding. Buttons and link need to be made accessible from the keyboard. This issue has been addressed even since the Macromedia days, but developers don't seem to care.
  • Reply 18 of 39
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,272member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post


    If you're not going to use it, then don't use it and quit b!tching about it. Why do you have to be a jerk about something some people will actually use? Just coz you don't find it useful doesn't mean others won't. Since you obviously dont care about video calls, why should it matter to you whatever people will FaceTime for?



    He's the ambassador for the vast majority - listen to him, he knows what he's talking about.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    postulantpostulant Posts: 1,272member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post


    I think the deaf community will just text like everyone else. Just like they always have.



    I know several deaf people. None of them own cell phones. A pager makes more sense.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post


    Yes, Facetime makes it easier, but this is nothing new.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videophone



    (I know....it's a Wikipedia reference....just read it anyway)



    True but no one has ever taken video calling to mainstream and I think that's what Apple is tying to do. Video calling capabilities on a mobile phone has been around for years now but no one has been able to make it popular. I had it on my old Nokia phone back in 2006. It hasn't caught on because no one has really promoted and pushed video calling on cellphones.



    Will Apple be one to take video calling mainstream? Remains to be seen..
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