Bell Atlantic Offers 7-1-1 Dialing For Telecommunications Relay Service in New York

Bell Atlantic Offers 7-1-1 Dialing For Telecommunications Relay Service in New York

Starting June 1, Three-Digit Number Reaches Service for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech-Impaired Customers

May 18, 2000


John Bonomo (Downstate NY) ,

Cliff Lee (Upstate NY),

NEW YORK -- Starting June 1, it will be easier for Bell Atlantic's New York customers to reach the state's Relay Service. All they'll need to do is dial three digits -- 7-1-1.

Relay Service allows people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired and who use text telephones (TTYs) to communicate with people using standard telephones. The New York Relay Service is operated jointly by Bell Atlantic and all telephone companies operating in the state.

The announcement of the new 7-1-1 capability was made today at Bell Atlantic's Eighth Annual Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Awareness Day, held at the company's headquarters in Manhattan.

New York joins only six other states with 7-1-1 dialing for relay service. In other states, residents and businesses must dial an 11-digit, toll-free number. Every state in Bell Atlantic's Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions will have three-digit access to relay service by the end of the year.

Calls made using relay service are answered by operators. These operators 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 a TTY.

A New York relay operator "relays" the conversation between the two calling parties. 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 free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The current New York relay numbers, 1-800-662-1220 for TTY calls and 1-800-421-1220 for voice calls, will continue to be available for calls within the state.

This initiative is further evidence of Bell Atlantic's long-standing national leadership in developing innovative solutions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

Policies on telephone services for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers vary across the country. The deaf and hard-of-hearing communities have asked for a simpler way to access telecommunications relay services, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reserved the 7-1-1 three-digit number for that purpose. Now, the FCC is examining setting national guidelines governing the implementation of the service.

For more information about the New York Relay Service and 7-1-1, customers may call the Relay Inquiry Line on 1-800-664-6349 (voice) or 1-800-835-5515 (TTY).

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.