July 10, 2007

Text4Deaf.Com, a communications-based website that serves the deaf community and the people with whom they interact, has launched a Web site that will enable real-time text messaging with a Web interface to cell phones regardless of carrier.
"We are always striving to be familiar with the most current technology on the market so that we can make appropriate recommendations to those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing," Jolene Mancini, AuD candidate in Audiology at Gallaudet University, says.

"Texting is very important on this campus, and the concept of sending and receiving text messages from the Internet is appealing because of its convenience, affordability and extra features. This is a practical technology that I would recommend to anyone, regardless of hearing status."

The popularity of texting continues to grow, with CTIA-The Wireless Association(R) reporting that last year 158 billion text messages were sent in the U.S. alone, a figure the groups reports is up 95% from the previous year and translates into approximately 300,000 text messages per minute.

Text4Deaf is structured to allow users to send and receive messages to individuals and groups, while enabling recipients to respond directly to the originating PC, Mac, PDA or mobile phone and to group member mobile phones. Web texts can be sent from any web-enabled device worldwide to any U.S. or Canadian mobile phone. The website also provides additional value-added services:

  — Two-Way "Web Texting" – users send and receive text messages (SMS) from the Web to any mobile phone in the U.S. and Canada. A real-time history of all conversations is included.

  — Mobile Chat – group chat feature lets users have conversations via text with multiple people at once, and all responses go to everyone in the group.

  — Group Broadcast – blast the same message to a group of people at once, with all responses going to the sender.

  — Text Reminders – helps users manage their lives by tracking what they need to do and when, then sending a text reminder to their own cell phone.

  — Scheduled Texting – a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation – send scheduled text messages for the recipient to receive at a specific time – a day from now, a week from now, a year from now. This is an especially useful tool for vendors, service professionals and medical personnel who need to communicate via text.

  — SMS Forwarding – never miss a text when off-line. Just turn SMS Forwarding "On" and all replies will go to account history and the phone.

  — Voicemail Greeting – request a free Text4Deaf greeting for your phone, letting others know you prefer to receive a text rather than a voice message.

 "Communications should be a two-way street, with everyone being able to reach each other, regardless of their hearing capacity, texting plans or availability," states Kerry Thompson, Text4Deaf spokesperson. "I’m very close to my family, and in spite of being over 1,500 miles away, we communicate often. Previously, we had to schedule TTY or Instant Message (IM) time, but now with the site they can send me texts at their convenience and reach me immediately. Our site allows the deaf and hearing communities to meet each other half way, and we believe others will use it as I do, communicating with family, friends and colleagues."

 In addition to signed video blogs with transcripts, there is an event listing and other resources on the site. An online sign-up is available at http://app.text4deaf.com/signup.