Idaho Relay Offers Speech-to-Speech Service for State Residents

The Public Utilities Commission of the State of Idaho has begun offering Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech (VA STS) service through Idaho Relay, a captioned telephone service powered by Hamilton Relay, allowing individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have difficulty speaking to communicate over the telephone.

VA STS 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. Using a webcam and computer with Microsoft's Skype, the CA can see VA STS users' mouth movements, facial expressions, and gestures as they speak. The CA uses these visual cues to assist in better understanding the VA STS users' 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 at Idaho Relay, in a statement. "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."

Idaho Relay also offers a Speech-to-Speech User Training Line so that groups and individuals in Idaho can familiarize themselves with the proper etiquette and standard procedures of using VA STS.

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