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TOTAL CONVERSATION the myFriend Network. July 2012 Gloucestershire Deaf Association and Deaf Studies Trust Supported by University of Bristol Centre for Deaf Studies. It is very simple.

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total conversation the myfriend network

TOTAL CONVERSATIONthe myFriend Network

July 2012

Gloucestershire Deaf Association and Deaf Studies Trust

Supported by University of Bristol Centre for Deaf Studies

it is very simple
It is very simple
  • Take the 2.5 million (or so) users of voice phones (mobile and fixed line) in the area and connect them to all the people who have difficulty in hearing
  • Introduce all the Deaf and hard of hearing people to a new form of video telecommunications which allows them to speak, lip-read, read/write the text and see the other person during the call
  • Remove the cost barriers to use, so that the development will be truly enabling
  • And THEN we have a truly equitable society
the pilot project
The Pilot Project

REACH112 (Responding to all citizens needing help) a three-year project part funded by the European Commission under the ICT PSP CIP programme. 22 partners from all over Europe, including user organisations and major global telecommunications companies – Vodafone (Spain), Siemens, France Telecom, Nokia.Large scale: €8.8m UK component: €2.4m

Now myFriend Network is taking this forward.

in a nutshell
In a nutshell
  • over 1700 home or personal installations of TC and around 400 RTT TC installations
  • supplied equipment or free downloads to PC, laptop, netbook or Android Smartphone
  • TC relay service – free to users during the project trial
  • a new telephone system
  • installations of TC in contact centres for direct calling
  • interface to textphones & text relay & 999
  • no 3G mobile services? - reverts to text communication
  • feedback by calling 55117788 or by email to
  • training for relay agents – sign language interpreters, lip-speakers and speech to text operators
  • Evaluation and business plan
total conversation is in
Total Conversation is in
  • Emergency services – Gloucester Tri-Service, Avon & Somerset Police, Avon Fire & Rescue
  • Blaenau Gwent Contact Centre
  • Bridgend Council – walk in service
  • Neath one-stop shop


  • Welsh Ambulance – through ABM Health Trust and Audiology (Bridgend)
  • Welsh Blood Service
website for download www myfriendcentral com
website for download –

Sign language explanation

Feature list for software

Calendar for relay availability

what reach112 delivered in the five pilots in europe in 12 months
What REACH112 delivered in the five pilots in Europe in 12 months
  • Nearly 7,500 registered end users
  • over 970,000 Total Conversation calls
  • over 124,000 relay calls were made
  • that is, more than 100,000 hearing people were impacted as well as Deaf and hard of hearing people
  • Significant progress was made in access to emergency – in training, in awareness, in protocols – over 70 real calls processed
  • I phoned the doctor to make an appointment and the surgery had to call me back. Before TC I wasn’t able to make an appointment via the telephone but was able to call them directly, receive a call-back and book an appointment for the same afternoon. With TC the barriers to communication were gone.

A Deaf man visited a friend at the Hospice who was dying of cancer. He brought his smart phone and connected with a friend who lived far away. His dying friend was very pleased to see her friend on the video screen and communicated in sign language. It may be the last time for them to see each other. This Deaf man was moved to tears.


When I was at the leisure centre with my children, I received a video call from a friend. We instantly communicated using sign language on a face-to-face basis. It was amazing as I felt very equal with hearing people who speaks naturally on their mobile phones. Other hearing people who were with me were amazed and really thought it was innovative.

case studies
Case Studies
  • Sven got a TC device for home use and one for his hearing sister and her family. He bought a TC license for his parents. Sven uses voice with his family, has sign from his mother & sister but lipreads his father. Sven used textphone in the past – OK, but TC gave the extra dimension facial expressions & sign language
cases not all easy
Cases – not all easy
  • Mary has a severe hearing loss and a sight problem. She also is a slow learner. After trying a videophone, we gave her a larger screen laptop. Never having had a computer, she did not understand how the mouse moves a pointer on screen. She called friends but was upset that they did not call her back. When introduced to the relay service, she could not follow what was going on. It became clear that she was not actually understanding the signing but trying to lip-read and to speak to the interpreter.
  • No breakthrough yet.
relay service models in use
Relay Service Models in use

Models are reversible – ie hearing voice caller to Deaf end-user – the greater impact is the number of hearing people contacted through relay – 5 times the number of active Deaf users

Relay agents can see/manage all incoming calls

24 hour service – defaulting to text relay (a) when out of reach of 3G and (b) when no TC agent available

Models also tested for speech/lip-reading and speech-to-text agents

simple sign relay model
Simple Sign-Relay Model

myFriend mobile (smartphone) or myFriend (PC)

Relay Centre:

sign language or text or speech

Centre-based relay agent

To voice phone users

interpreters bristol cardiff gloucester n wales
InterpretersBristol, Cardiff, Gloucester, N Wales

Multiple TC callers

Relay Central

Relay agents in different locations


Make appointments

NHS Direct

remote access vri
Remote access - VRI

Deaf person and health professional in same location

Interpreter hears, speaks and signs – or uses speech to text

Relay Centre:

sign language

a e access
A&E access

Lip-speech; speech to text

Voice, text, gesture - signing

HoH text or speech

A&E case notes through interpreter

Relay Centre:

sign language

  • Depends on extent of application – various options shown in the documents
  • Council-wide model – Around £500 per month – on-demand relay service
  • Individual user model - £9 per month for support for less able adults
  • Friends and family use free TCphone version