250 Percent Increase in Thai Telecommunication Relay Service Use

Thailand’s Telecommunication Relay Service is helping users with hearing and visual disabilities to communicate through video and text translation, using MMX. It has been brought up as an example of accessibility in the UN’s Economic and Social Development for Asia and the Pacific report.

There are many barriers that needs be broken in order for an equal accessibility to the built environment, transportation, services and professional environment, from which many persons with disabilities are having trouble accessing.

For example, one physical barrier could be solved with a low incline ramp and a wide doorway, to allow wheelchair users easy access to any building. Or for an employer to provide communication tools such as Braille information and signage to help easy mobility for someone with visual disabilities. In the virtual world, a great solution for accessibility is to have adaptable websites where someone could easily change text to speech interpretation.

For those with hearing and visual disabilities, face-to-face communication can be especially challenging, but research has shown that ICT products and services are invaluable in this area. As the demand of these products is growing, so is their availability and affordability to ensure that everyone is able to use them.

The UN’s ESCAP has recently released a report on “Accessibility for all” for the Asia and Pacific region, in which they bring up Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) as an example of good telecommunications. NBTC have started the Thai Telecommunications Relay Service (TTRS) initiative in order to provide accessible telecommunication tools. With TTRS, persons that have limited abilities to communicate can connect through a multi-platform service. The service uses the myMMX and helps users with translation via an interpreter using video, text or voice. It can be used for speech enhancement, emergency service support or text message support. TTRS also allows users of different communication tools to connect, as it can be used with mobile phones, smart phones or landline phones. The app is free and can be downloaded to any mobile device or at a public video relay service kiosk.  The service has been a huge success, growing from around 45,000 calls in 2012, to over 115,000 calls in 2015. At the end of 2015, TTRS had more than 370,000 uses. These growing numbers shows the importance and the demand of the ICT products. They are helping people communicate, and therefore minimise marginalisation.

Download and read the full report om Accessibility for All 2016 HERE.