March 6, 2017, Aurora, Neb. – The Public Utilities Commission of the State of Idaho is pleased to now offer Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech (VA STS) service through Idaho Relay. Idaho Relay is powered by Hamilton Relay® and provides 24/7 access to telecommunications relay and captioned telephone service, allowing individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking to communicate over the telephone.
Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech is especially useful for individuals who have difficulty speaking or being understood on the phone. This unique service incorporates live video, providing the user with an opportunity to both speak and use visual cues when interacting with the Communication Assistant (CA) during calls. Utilizing a webcam and computer with SkypeTM, the CA is able to see the VA STS user’s mouth movements, facial expressions and gestures as they speak. The CA uses these visual cues to assist in better understanding the VA STS user’s side of the conversation. The CA then repeats what’s said, as needed, to the other person.
“Many individuals who have difficulty speaking feel they are best understood when they can be seen,” said Bob Dunbar, TRS Administrator for Idaho Relay. “With Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech, the option of using a video connection can make them feel more at ease and confident that their message is being conveyed accurately.”
To use Visually Assisted STS, individuals need:
• A telephone with active service.
• A computer and webcam.
• High-speed Internet connection (512 kbps is recommended).
• Skype user account (Visit Skype.com and click on “Download Skype” to download and register for an account).
To make a Visually Assisted STS call, follow these steps:
1. Dial 800-855-9400 or Dial 7-1-1, and request “Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech” or “Visually Assisted STS” to connect with a specially trained VA STS CA.
2. Using Skype, the CA will establish a video connection with the VA STS user.
3. The VA STS user gives the CA the number to dial and any specific call handling instructions.
4. The CA dials the requested number and facilitates the conversation.
Idaho Relay also offers a Speech-to-Speech User Training Line so that groups and individuals in Idaho may familiarize themselves with the proper etiquette and standard procedures of using VA STS. The User Training Line can be reached through Customer Care at 800-368-6185 (English) or 866-744-7471 (Spanish). Individuals who are residents of Idaho and/or intend to use VA STS service with an Idaho resident are eligible to call the training line. VA STS users, themselves, can call the training line for an initial set-up call where the representative will document call handling preferences and provide the opportunity to place practice calls.
About Hamilton Relay
Hamilton Relay provides contracted Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone services through 24 contracts to 18 states, the District of Columbia and the Island of Saipan, and is a provider of Internet-based Captioned Telephone services nationwide. More information is available at hamiltonrelay.com.
Hamilton Relay is a division of Hamilton Telecommunications, a diversified communications and technology service provider based in Aurora, Nebraska. Founded in 1901, Hamilton Telecommunications encompasses seven primary company divisions that allow Hamilton to operate on a local, regional and national basis.
Hamilton Relay is a registered trademark of Nedelco, Inc. d/b/a Hamilton Telecommunications. SkypeTM is a trademark of Skype, and Hamilton Relay and Idaho Relay are not affiliated, sponsored, authorized or otherwise associated with the Skype group of companies.