Bell Atlantic Awards Massachusetts Relay Service Contract
to Vista Information Technologies
Vendor to Provide Service Starting May 1
April 16, 1999
John Johnson, 617 743-3677
BOSTON -- Bell Atlantic has awarded Vista Information Technologies of
Herndon, Va. a four-year contract to provide telecommunications relay
service in Massachusetts starting May 1.
Vista will provide the service from Holyoke, Mass., under a contract
requiring a higher standard of service than under the current contract held
by MCI / WorldCom.
Telecommunications relay service provides a communications link
between standard- telephone users and text telephone (TTY) users
through the use of a relay operator. Highly skilled relay operators
transcribe the spoken conversation to the TTY user and voice the text
portion of the conversation to the other caller.
The new, tougher standards for the service were developed by the
Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership (MATP), a division of
Childrens' Hospital, with input from relay service experts throughout the
country. The MATP also assisted in selecting the vendor.
Bell Atlantic and Vista will establish a relay service advisory board with
members from various communities which use relay service. Both
companies believe that success of the service depends on several factors;
community involvement, effective outreach and education programs,
qualified customer service representatives dedicated to quick response
times and well- trained, highly skilled operators.
Under the new contract, customer service representatives will now be
located within the relay center and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
to assist customers with service questions. Customers will no longer have
to hang up and dial another number. Instead, a relay operator will transfer
them directly. Vista has contracted with the Massachusetts State
Association of the Deaf to identify and provide relay-proficient customer
service representatives to staff these positions.
Massachusetts relay users will have access to a Web site with information
on basic relay service, instructions on special types of relay calls such as
voice-carryover calls, and access numbers and contact information. The
Web site will also contain information about the relay advisory board, as
well as forms for updating user profiles and links to other websites such as
that for the Massachusetts Equipment Distribution Program.
Vista will be introducing new technology which will allow relay operators
to capture recordings in their computers and type them back to the TTY
user, without hanging up and redialing to get the full text. The process is
completed with the user's consent and the captured messages are erased
automatically from the operators' computers once the call ends.
Bell Atlantic is required by state law to provide relay service and to solicit
competitive bids from vendors every four years.
Vista has experience in staffing relay centers in Arizona, Florida and
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines
and 8.6 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.