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California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS RELEASE Media Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov


SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2012 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), through its Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), today launched a visual component to its Speech-to-Speech service in order to make placing assisted calls easier and faster for customers. This visual component to California's Speech-to-Speech service is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Speech-to-Speech service enables a person whose speech is difficult for others to understand to communicate by telephone with the help of a Communications Assistant, who remains on the line to assist during the call. With a Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech call, in addition to a basic phone call to the relay service, the Speech-to-Speech caller is also using a webcam or videophone with SkypeTM to connect with the Communications Assistant at a relay call center. This enables the Communications Assistant to see the Speech-to-Speech user as they are speaking. Seeing the Speech-to-Speech caller's mouth movements, facial expressions, and gestures, and possibly even cue cards (e.g., yes, no) can enable the Communications Assistant to better understand and re-voice for the caller. Users of Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices can also share the information they are typing via SkypeTM, using computer emulation.

The CPUC worked closely with DDTP's Speech-to-Speech users and its relay providers, Hamilton Relay and AT&T Relay, to develop the Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech service. Speech-to-Speech users need the following to use Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech:

The DDTP is a program of the CPUC, providing Californians who are deaf and disabled with specialized telephone equipment and relay services through the California Telephone Access Program and California Relay Service, respectively. Speech-to-Speech is a part of the California Relay Service. The Program serves people who are challenged using a standard telephone because of difficulty seeing, hearing, speaking, moving, or remembering.

For more information on the DDTP, please visit www.ddtp.org.

For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.


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