AT&T has launched a new service – Real-time Text (RTT) – that replaces TTY that was introduced half a century ago to help communications for people with hearing loss and speech disabilities.
RTT is a text-based communication service that alleviates many of TTY’s short comings. TTY requires turn taking, allows for the use of only a small set of device-generated characters, and is very slow.
With RTT, each text character is transmitted and received in near real time, allowing for a conversational flow of communication, simultaneously with voice. This allows for a two-way conversation without requiring turn taking.
And it doesn’t require specialized equipment. AT&T’s service works on Apple or Android smart phones with updated operating systems. As a result, RTT permits today’s users to incorporate into their communications the rich set of device-generated characters available on modern smart phones to enhance and enliven their discussions. All a user needs to do is make sure their operating system is up to date and then download the RTT app from their device’s app store. RTT users will be able to communicate directly with both other RTT users as well as with TTY users, such as 911 centers and relay services.
RTT calls will be billed as voice calls. So, coinciding with the launch of RTT, we have changed the AT&T Accessibility plans for smart phones to include unlimited voice to address any concerns our customers may have about the cost of using RTT.
This launch on AT&T’s network is the first step in making RTT as widely available as possible. Initially, AT&T RTT users will be able to communicate with other users on AT&T’s network.
By the end of the year, more carriers will deploy the service, enabling communication between networks. And, by 2021, most if not all carriers will be offering RTT.