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Public telephones in Friedrichshafen, the T-City, now also suitable for the deaf and hearing impaired


Deutsche Telekom equips ten multimedia terminals with a sign language interpreter system

“Seeing instead of hearing” is the name of a project for telephony for the hearing impaired at public videophones, being launched today by Deutsche Telekom in the T-City Friedrichshafen. The new service for the deaf or hearing impaired is being presented by the telecommunications company together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft der Hörgeschädigten-Selbsthilfe und Fachverbände e.V.

As part of the project, Deutsche Telekom has equipped ten public multimedia telephones with access to the TeSS sign language interpreter service. TeSS is a joint initiative between the Deutsche Gesellschaft der Hörgeschädigten-Selbsthilfe und Fachverbände e. V. and Deutsche Telekom. Together, they have been operating interpreter-based text and video relay services in Germany since June 2007 ( A pilot project for telephony for the hearing impaired at public telephones started in June 2008 in Dresden.

The ten multimedia stations in the T-City Friedrichshafen have an integrated screen and a special camera. By pressing the “Relay Services” button, the hearing impaired person establishes a video connection to one of the 50 TeSS sign language interpreters. Using sign language, he gives the interpreter the number of the telephone customer without hearing difficulties, who he wishes to call. The interpreter dials the number and translates the conversation simultaneously in both directions – sign language and spoken language. The control monitor shows the user an image of himself and the TeSS interpreter throughout the entire conversation.

“With this trend-setting pilot project, we are testing the technology and the usage conditions of the relay services for deaf people in public spaces,” said Volker Nussbaumer, head of the Value-Added Services Center of Deutsche Telekom.

In Germany, more than 14 million people live with varying degrees of hearing impairment. For many of them, our communication society presents them with obstacles which are difficult to overcome. Until recently, it was not possible for the deaf and seriously hearing impaired to use the telephone. “With this project, we are overcoming a big communication barrier for these citizens of Friedrichshafen, for they can now make telephone calls from public multimedia stations without restrictions,” explained Ferdinand Tempel, head of the T-City representation of Deutsche Telekom on the occasion of the launch of the new terminal.


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