Communication Aids28th October 2014

Next Generation Text - A User's Experience

Telephone options slowly moving towards parity for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people

by Martin Griffiths

At last we can use those ‘free minutes’ (or at least I hope we can)!

As a deaf person I have been frustrated for a long time at not being able to use my smartphone to make phone calls to organisations and people in the hearing world.

Like many deaf people, I contact other deaf people using Twitter, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime. Skype, Oovoo and other suitable applications. I also use traditional email and sms texts.

However, when I want to phone a taxi or contact a hospital or speak to a hearing person who isn’t ‘tech savvy’ I have been restricted to my Screenphone at home or at work. This meant that I couldn’t contact people when I was out and about. Not fun when standing in the pouring rain in my hometown Caerphilly trying to get a hearing stranger to phone a taxi for me!

I was excited when Next Generation Text Relay (NGT) was finally launched on October 6th. It promised a more modern user friendly service enabling deaf people to contact anyone anytime using a smartphone, PC or tablet. Users would need both a phone and internet connection to access the new service.

I have an older smartphone the Samsung Galaxy S3 but have found that NGT works well (so far!). It isn’t as easy to set up and use as I hoped but it does work and I was excited to be able to call people using my mobile.

I downloaded the free app NGT Lite to my phone and to set it up you have to Add Your Number to the NGT. When you type in your number and press the Link button you get 60 seconds to make a phone call to complete the linking process. You need to call 0800 500 888 but you do not need to speak or listen to anyone. You simply dial and when answered just hold for a few seconds and go back to the NGT Lite app and you should see a message saying your phone is linked to NGT. You then need to wait a short while before you can use the service.

You simply dial 18001 followed by the number you want to call and the phone should auto link to NGT. You get a pop up asking if you want to Join the call. Once you do this you should see the screen with text on enabling you to follow the call. You can Type and Read or Speak and Read. Preferences can be set to help people with less than perfect vision to get the contrast and colour and fonts they need.

It is possible for people to phone you using the 18002 prefix or you can set up a Text Number meaning people can call you using a number beginning with a zero. Anyone using old Text Relay will know some organisations cannot store or call numbers using the 18002 prefix but they should be able to use the NGT TextNumber format.

Its not free to use the service but the good news is that apparently you can use those free minutes you are paying for each month that you don’t use! Ofcom requires all providers to offer a rebate to it is worth checking your service provider is complying with this directive.

If you want help setting up your device phone 0800 500 888 or check out the website

Article by Martin Griffiths

posted in Technology / Communication Aids

28th October 2014