BT and InLinkUK to help those with hearing and speech difficulties access free phone calls

BT has introduced a new service to help people with hearing and speech difficulties to more easily access the free phone calls provided by its InLinkUK digital street units.

BT has worked with its partner, InLinkUK, to make the Next Generation Text (NGT) service available on InLinks across the country, making the service even more accessible to those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired.

InLinks are already installed across 11 London boroughs and 14 other major UK cities, including Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Portsmouth and Cardiff.

With more than 320 InLinks already active across the country, more than 230,000 unique WiFi subscribers, and more than 70,000 calls are made across the network each week.

The confidential Next Generation Text service is unique in the UK. Launched by BT in 2014, it works by letting the caller type the words they wish to communicate, for a Relay Assistant to then speak those words to the recipient of the call. The Relay Assistant types back any responses to the caller, allowing for an effective two-way conversation over the phone.

Users can access the Next Generation Text app via the InLinks’ touch screen tablet. This removes the need for users to download the app onto their personal smartphone or tablet themselves. The new feature allows people with hearing and speech difficulties, to make calls from public street units using an app, for the first time since NGT was launched.

Neil Scoresby, general manager payphones and InLinkUK, BT, said: “With more than 320 InLinks in the heart of city centres across the UK, we’re pleased that even more people can make use of the free call service the InLinks offer. We always strive to ensure that BT products and services enable inclusive communications for everyone and this is a great example. Each week we bring new InLinks to even more towns and cities across the UK, providing a vital lifeline for many, right at the heart of our bustling urban centres.”

Matt Bird, general manager, InLinkUK, added: “The InLinks were designed to be accessible for all users, regardless of their physical or technological capabilities. We currently provide braille embossed information on all key features, and we also have hearing induction loops integrated into all of our street units. We are thrilled to introduce the Next Generation Text service to better support members of the public with hearing and speech difficulties – advancing our commitment to enabling digital inclusion throughout the UK.”

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