Bell Atlantic to Launch 7-1-1 Service for Deaf, Hearing-Disabled Customers in Delaware

Bell Atlantic to Launch 7-1-1 Service for Deaf, Hearing-Disabled Customers in Delaware

Easier Dialing to Reach Telecommunications Relay Service

June 9, 2000


Ells Edwards,

WILMINGTON -- Delaware residents soon will be able to dial 7-1-1 to communicate with deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled people who use text telephones, also known as TTY devices.

With the new 7-1-1 service, customers are able to dial only three digits to send text messages over regular phone lines using the statewide Delaware Telecommunications Relay Service. Customers can begin using the new 7-1-1 service June 12.

"Delaware Telecommunications Relay Service is another way we are meeting our goal to make sure all our citizens are given the respect and services they need," said Delaware Gov. Thomas R. Carper. "Thousands of Delawareans who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled can now simply dial these three easy digits to communicate with anyone, anytime by telephone."

Bell Atlantic is providing the three-digit dialing service at no cost to the State of Delaware. In addition, the company offers the service in several other states and has pledged to implement 7-1-1 throughout its service area as soon as possible.

Calls to Delaware Telecommunications Relay Service are answered by operators who connect a person using a TTY with a standard phone user. Similarly, standard phone users rely on the relay service to call friends, relatives, business associates and others who communicate with TTYs.

The operator relays the conversation between the two. The relay operator is trained to help conversations flow accurately and with ease, and all calls are handled with the strictest confidentiality. There is no limit on the number of times someone can use the service, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is important that Delaware Relay and TTY users continue to dial 9-1-1 for emergencies. Operators at 9-1-1 centers are equipped to communicate with TTY users. The 7-1-1 number is to be used only to reach the Delaware relay service in order to place regular calls.

The current Delaware Relay numbers, (800) 232-5460 (TTY) or (800) 232-5470 (voice), in addition to 7-1-1, will continue to be available for calls within Delaware. However, all callers from outside the state must use the "800" toll-free number.

"Bell Atlantic is delighted to partner with the State of Delaware, AT&T and Delaware Telecommunications Relay Service to roll out 7-1-1 service," said Joshua W. Martin III, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Delaware. "It is in keeping with our continued commitment to serve the best interests of the state and its residents. We have the innovation and technology to provide the service, and we have proven in Delaware that, by working together, we can provide this service quickly to benefit all customers."

Delaware Telecommunications Relay Service is a public service administered by AT&T, under contract to Bell Atlantic-Delaware. This service may be accessed from any phone, and there are no set-up fees or costs per local call. On average, the Delaware relay service processes over 13,000 calls per month.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 44 million telephone access lines and more than 20 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.