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Saturday, December 30, 2006

A New Year Resolution for Bell Relay Service:

I was fiddling around on the internet after looking for places to buy 70's style pants for the New Year Eve party I am attending. Decided to check Bell's website to find out what kind of internet services they provide for the Deaf people in Canada. Turns out that they only have two web pages dedicated to Bell Relay Service:

  1. http://www.bell.ca/specialneeds/PrsSN_ContactUs.page
  2. http://www.bell.ca/specialneeds/PrsSN_SvcRelay.page
I decided that I would send them an email to inquire about the quality of their relay services share information about the modern technology being used to provide relay services for the Deaf. Enclosed with this blog is the letter I sent to Bell regarding their Relay Services.

Office of the Manager
P.O. Box 920, Station A
Toronto, Ontario
M5W 1G5



December 30, 2006


Dear Sir/Madam;

Hello, I am a Deaf person living in Ontario and I moved to the United States almost ten years ago and moved back to Ontario a few months ago. I wanted to comment on Bell's commitment to provide Relay Services for the Deaf in Canada. I studied Business Administration Management and one of the courses I took focused on Quality Assurance and when I compare the Relay Services Bell provided ten years ago and today, the quality remains the same.

I would like to find out what kind of actions Bell has taken to increase the quality of Bell Relay Services? It was difficult for me to find contact information to share my concerns. Does Bell Relay Services benchmark its' own relay services against other relay service providers, including relay services provided in other countries? I believe there are opportunities to provide relay services at lower costs using other technology that is readily available in the Deaf community. The Teletype devices that Bell Relay Services was developed more than fifteen year ago are rapidly becoming obsolete (I never used the TTY during my entire time living in the United States, but was able to make phone calls to Deaf impaired (hearing) people),
The technology I am talking about takes advantage of the internet. Has Bell investigated the opportunity of implementing the internet for relay services? Have you ever experimented with something called IP Relay? There are plenty of companies in the United States that provide IP Relay Services, to list a few for example: www.ip-relay.com, www.sprintip.com, http://www.siprelay.com, and so on. There are other advanced relay service technology out there that take advantage of our natural language, American Sign Language. Those relay services are called Video Relay Services (VRS) and they use either web cams or video phones (see what video phones are like at http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=8&sec=0 ). If you want to learn more about those services, these are websites of the companies that provide Video Relay Services: www.ip-vrs.com, www.sorensonvrs.com, www.sprintvrs.com, www.hovrs.com and so on.

I look forward to talking with someone from Bell Relay Services about modernizing Canada's relay services quality. Bringing Bell Relay Service out of the "stone age" era should be one of Bell's New Year Resolution for 2007.

Sincerely yours,




oneninefive


Let's see if the Office of the Manager responds. I encourage everyone else who wants some kind of internet based technology be put into use for Relay Services in Canada to send their comments and suggestions to the Office of the Manger at
accessible@bell.ca. This way we can hope that they make this technology their New Year Resolution.

3 comments:

oneninefive said...

Got this as an automated response from Bell right after I sent my email to them.

"AUTOMATED REPLY - RÉPONSE AUTOMATISÉE
DO NOT REPLY TO THIS E-MAIL - NE PAS RÉPONDRE À CE COURRIEL

Dear Valued Customer

Thank you for your comments/suggestion on how Bell can improve the
accessibility of our products and services to persons with disabilities.


Bell Canada undertakes a variety of activities to ensure we are informed
about the telecommunications challenges faced by persons with
disabilities in order to better understand their needs and design
solutions to accommodate them. Thank you for visiting Bell's web site
and contacting us by e-mail. I will forward your message to the office
of the accessibility manager for consideration. You will be contacted
directly if we have any questions.

If you have a hearing, visual or physical disability, you can contact
our Special Needs Centre for information on special equipment that will
make telephoning easier. The staff in the Centre is specially trained
to give advice and recommendations on the type of equipment best suited
to your needs.

Customers with special needs are entitled to discounts on certain
equipment. For example, TTY/teletypewriter users are entitled to a 50%
reduction for long distance calls made within Canada to other Canadian
points and billed to their Bell Canada phone number.

The Bell Special Needs department can be reached by TTY at
1-800-268-9242 or by telephone at 1-800-268-9243. Their hours of
operation are Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) 8:30 a.m. to 5:00
p.m.

For more information regarding Special Needs and Bell Canada Relay
Service (BCRS), please visit our web site at these locations:

http://www.bell.ca/specialneeds

We appreciate you using Bell's Online Customer Care Centre. What a great
way to communicate. Please feel free to e-mail us in the future.


Sincerely




------------------------------------------------------------------------
-------------------

Madame, Monsieur,

Merci des commentaires et suggestion dont vous nous avez fait part pour
améliorer l'accessibilité des produits et services de Bell aux personnes
handicapées.

Bell Canada prend diverses mesures afin de se renseigner sur les
problèmes de télécommunications éprouvés par les personnes handicapées
et ainsi mieux comprendre leurs besoins et concevoir des solutions
adaptées. Merci d'avoir visité le site Web de Bell et d?avoir communiqué
avec nous par courriel. Je transmettrai votre message au bureau du
directeur des programmes d'accessibilité pour examen. Nous
communiquerons directement avec vous si nous avons des questions.

Si vous avez un handicap auditif, visuel ou physique, vous pouvez
communiquer avec notre Centre de services adaptés afin d'obtenir des
renseignements sur l'équipement de téléphonie conçu pour faciliter votre
expérience de téléphonie. Le personnel du centre est spécialement formé
pour vous conseiller et vous recommander le type d'équipement qui répond
le mieux à vos besoins.

Les clients qui ont des besoins spéciaux ont droit à des réductions sur
certains équipements. Par exemple, les utilisateurs d'appareil de
télécommunications pour sourds (ATS) ont droit à une réduction de 50 %
sur les frais d'interurbain au Canada portés à leur numéro de téléphone
Bell Canada.

Vous pouvez communiquer avec le Centre de services adaptés par ATS au 1
800 268-9242 ou par téléphone au 1 800 268-9243. Le centre est ouvert du
lundi au vendredi (sauf durant les vacances) de 8 h 30 à 17 h.

Pour en savoir plus sur le Centre de services adaptés et le Service de
relais Bell (SRB), veuillez visiter notre site Web à l'adresse suivante
:

http://www.bell.ca/servicesadaptes

Nous sommes heureux que vous fassiez appel au Centre de services clients
en ligne de Bell. C'est vraiment un excellent moyen de communication.
N'hésitez pas à communiquer de nouveau avec nous par courriel.

Cordialement,"

Let's see if that is the only response I get from Bell.

oneninefive said...

Testing the comment option here.

HEiDi said...

ha ha ha. good going mike. let me know what their response is.