AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., today announced the release of a free app that makes use of the iPhone 4′s Facetime feature for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. AT&T Video Link for iPhone 4 allows users to communicate with sign language using Facetime which is then converted to spoken language for the person called by a certified sign language interpreter.
AT&T describes how to use the app as follows:
The AT&T VRS app is simple and easy to use. Users launch the app, log-in, and then can either choose to place a VRS call by selecting someone from their contact list or by manually dialing a number. The app contacts an AT&T ASL interpreter who then initiates a FaceTime video call with the user. The interpreter will connect the ASL user to the hearing person they are calling, and relays the conversation between the two parties through ASL.
While this service from AT&T is not new (AT&T has offered this video relay service for several years now), it is new to the iPhone. Since it uses Apple’s Facetime technology, it can be used only when an iPhone 4 is connected to a Wi-Fi network. Since AT&T offers free Wi-Fi access at all of its public hotspots (AT&T’s public hotspot locator tool is here) to iPhone users, the new app offers good access to this service for deaf and hard-of-hearing customers with an iPhone 4.