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BT upgrades InLink street kiosks for deaf, speech-impaired people

BT has added a next-generation text service to its InLink street kiosks to make the service more accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired

BT and InLinkUK, the supplier of its street kiosk units, have upgraded more than 320 units around the UK with new accessibility services for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired.

The next-generation text (NGT) service – first launched by BT four years ago to its domestic consumer customers – works by letting the caller type the words they wish to communicate, for a relay assistant to speak the words to the call’s recipient. Their responses are then typed back to the caller, enabling an effective two-way conversation using the phone.

Users will be able to access the NGT apps through the InLinks’ touchscreen tablet, removing the need for them to download the app onto their own device, if owned, which BT said would make the service faster and more convenient for many people who may be otherwise at least partially digitally excluded.

“With more than 320 InLinks in the heart of city centres across the UK, we’re pleased that even more people can make use of the free call service the InLinks offer,” said BT general manager of payphones and InLink, Neil Scoresby.

“We always strive to ensure that BT products and services enable inclusive communications for everyone and this is a great example. Each week we bring new InLinks to even more towns and cities across the UK, providing a vital lifeline for many, right at the heart of our bustling urban centres.”

InLink units have been specifically designed to enable digital inclusion, and already include braille-embossed information on key features, and hearing induction loops, according to InLinkUK general manager Matt Bird.

“We are thrilled to introduce the next-generation text service to better support members of the public with hearing and speech difficulties – advancing our commitment to enabling digital inclusion throughout the UK,” he said.

The InLink units are already widely used across London, and other cities including Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Portsmouth.

BT claims that the service now has around 230,000 unique Wi-Fi subscribers, and 70,000 calls are made over voice through InLinks every week.

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