Sprint has launched what it calls CapTel Relay Service, an assistive technology aimed at easing communications for those who are hard of hearing, have experienced hearing loss later in life or deaf individuals with good vocalization skills.

Working with Ultratec of Madison, WI, Sprint has been testing the CapTel service for more than a year on some 1,400 users.

Hawaii is the first state to launch the fully FCC compliant CapTel service to their hard of hearing community. CapTel also is available through Sprint in seven other states, including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming.

Beginning April 1, CapTel will be available in North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas and Utah.

CapTel, which is short for Captioned Telephone, provides live captioning of phone conversations, allowing users to receive and understand the full context of any call.

A special CapTel-equipped phone is required in order to place a call through the CapTel Relay Service. It works like any traditional phone with callers talking and listening to each other, but with captions provided live for every call displayed on the CapTel phone’s built-in screen.

“CapTel is a life changing experience for many that use it, but it’s not mandated so states must individually work with Sprint to make it a reality for hard of hearing and deaf citizens,” said Mike Ligas, region vice president for Sprint Relay. “It is important for citizens to learn about this service and work with their state to make the option available to them.”

Sprint: www.sprint.com