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WASHINGTON -- "Hola. Es un placer hablar con usted. [Hello. It's a pleasure speaking to you.]
Hispanics living in the District who are deaf or hard-of-hearing will be able to use the telephone to receive these words using Bell Atlantic's new Spanish Relay Center.
The free service allows anyone-the hearing, deaf, deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing-to communicate by phone in Spanish.
"We're meeting the needs of a growing Hispanic community," said William M. Freeman, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic - Washington. "Our English-speaking relay center handles close to 40,000 calls a month. Now, the Spanish Relay Center enables us to serve even more people, and we're providing the service at no cost to customers."
Bell Atlantic will not raise rates to pay for the center, Freeman said.
Telecommunications Relay Service [TRS] allows people to use phones or typewriter-like devises linked to telephones, called text-telephones or TTYs, to call Bell Atlantic's relay center. Communications assistants in the relay center connect callers with the person they want to reach, and then serve as a translator during the call.
A hearing person can use the relay center to contact someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing. When they call, a communications assistant completes the call to the other party and types messages in Spanish on a TTY or personal computer [PC].
Deaf or hard-of-hearing people also can initiate calls to the relay center using TTYs or PCs. The communications assistant will use a telephone to call people who can hear. While the person initiating the call can communicate in English or Spanish, the communications assistant will always relay the message in Spanish.
"This creates another wonderful opportunity for those of us who can hear to communicate with deaf and hard-of hearing people," Freeman said. "And this is a wonderful way to respond to the unique needs of the entire Washington, D.C. community."
TTY or PC users who wish to communicate in Spanish should dial 1-800-546-7111. Hearing customers can use any phone to call the relay center on 1-800-546-5111.
Bell Atlantic's new Spanish Relay Center handles all outgoing local, national and international calls originating in the District of Columbia, and local calls originating in Maryland and Virginia that terminate in the District.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires TRS to be available nationwide. Bell Atlantic's English-speaking relay service began in the District in May 1992.
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 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 21 countries.