AT&T has officially unveiled the Real-time Text (RTT) communications service for those who have difficulty in hearing or speaking in a bid to replace the legacy teletype (TTY) method for persons with disabilities. For those who are not familiar with TTY, it is an accessibility solution that is intended to help those with hearing limitations type their message in the phone keyboard in order to communicate. The RTT, meanwhile, is a communication solution based on text that aims to convey to the audibly challenged many services that TTY apparently failed to deliver, including the limited selection of device-generated characters and its relatively slow performance. In contrast, RTT sends and receives each text character in near real time, which means texts can flow as quickly as voice communication without the need for conversations to take turns.
Unlike TTY, RTT lets users communicate using the vast array of characters generated by their device, whether it’s an iOS handset or an Android phone, which removes the need for any specially designed tools. The only requirement, then, is to update the device’s operating system to its latest version and install the RTT app on their device. It is worth pointing out as well that RTT is designed to let users communicate with other users that use both the RTT and TTY methods. Also, in order to help customers contain the costs of transitioning to the RTT accessibility service, AT&T has announced in conjunction with the announcement that it has changed its accessibility plans for mobile devices, with RTT calls being categorized as voice calls, meaning the app itself does not incur any additional fee.
AT&T’s debut of RTT marks the pilot launch of the new communication service, and the company said RTT is expected to land on other carriers by the end of the year, according to Linda Vandeloop, AT&T’s Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory. Back in 2015, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) waived the TTY requirements for AT&T after the wireless carrier complained for not obtaining a waiver from the agency, which requires that all voice calling services must support TTY. Separately, the carrier also asked the FCC to drop TTY in favor of RTT. Then last year, the federal regulator finally moved to replace TTY with RTT.