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Southwest and Sprint to improve access for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

25th June 2009 - 09:41 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Sprint and Southwest Airlines have teamed up to offer toll-free TTY (teletypewriter) and video relay access, giving deaf and hard-of-hearing customers direct access to Southwest Airlines' customer service.

Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech disabled customers needing to call Southwest Airlines can now dial a dedicated toll-free TTY telephone number: 800-533-1305, which is answered by a Sprint relay agent who immediately connects to the Southwest Airlines customer service representative. The Sprint relay agent relays information between the customer service representative and the relay user in English or Spanish.

Video Relay customers can access the service using a videophone by calling SWAVRS.TV to reach a video interpreter who will connect to Southwest Airlines. By providing video access, those whose native language is American Sign Language (ASL) can communicate with a video interpreter in ASL who then acts as the ‘voice’ to the airline's customer service representatives. Sprint Video Relay Service (VRS) is offered at no cost to deaf and hard-of-hearing customers who use a videophone or web camera with a computer to connect with a qualified Sprint video interpreter who interprets the call in English or Spanish.

“Offering video access, preferred by many of our deaf or hard-of-hearing customers, facilitates information exchange faster and in a more personal way than via the traditional telecommunications device for customers who are deaf,” commented Lance Morton, director of automation resources for customer support and services for Southwest Airlines. “This is a good fit for Southwest Airlines – we’re committed to providing the highest quality of customer service to each of our customers.”

“Sprint offers many types of relay services including TTY, voice, voice-carry-over, speech- to-speech, internet-based relay, video relay, caption telephone services, conference captioning, and a variety of hearing aid compatible wireless devices to meet the unique communication needs of our customer base,” remarked Mike Ellis, director of Relay Services at Sprint. “Sprint applauds Southwest Airlines for its commitment to all its customers, including those deaf and hard-of-hearing, to ensure they have equal access to Southwest Airlines travel services.”


The Shephard News Team


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