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Thailand plans technology to help connect people with disabilities

Zafar Anjum | Dec. 10, 2009
A relay centre aims to aid communication for hearing and speech-impaired people

SINGAPORE, 9 DECEMBER 2009 A new development technology service called Telecommunication Relay can help to reduce the communication gap between ordinary people and deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled people, said a report in the Bangkok Post.

Recently, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) granted 2.5 million baht (US$70,000) of research and development funds in collaboration with National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec) to set up the Telecommunication Relay Service Centre, or TRS, to acting as a middleman, providing relay or translation services for people with hearing or speech disabilities.

The centre will provide various forms of communication, starting with a text relay service and SMS service, the report noted.

According to the report, Wantanee Phantachat, programme director, Assistive Technology Center, Nectec, also suggested that the centre will provide an Internet Relay Service by facilitating text chat via instant messenger from impaired people to a communication assistant who will read the typed instant message to the designated recipient. Or they can use VDO chat via an instant messenger program to communicate with the telephone user via the agent.

Moreover, the centre also facilitates an emergency response service for anyone needing urgent help in cases such as fires or accidents.

Wantanee plans to eventually offer the service beyond the centre, asking members of the public to volunteer, or for private areas such as hospitals, police stations and banks to implement Video Relay Service kiosks, allowing users to access the translation service to help them communicate with bank officers, nurses, doctors, and so on.

Similar centres are already operating under universal service obligations in 17 countries, including the US, New Zealand, China and South Korea.


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