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PHL Launches Technology To Aid Hearing, Speech Impaired

Passengers who have hearing and speech impairments at Philadelphia International (PHL) may now make free calls thanks to computerized video phones.

Two options offer the service. The first, Video Relay Service, uses a web camera to allow users to interact with a translator fluent in American Sign Language and visible on a monitor. The translator relays the message to the caller’s intended recipient and then translates the response back into American Sign Language for the caller.

Another option, Translation Relay Service, is a text-based device that lets callers communicate using a keyboard, similar to an Internet chat room. Just like with VRS, a translator relays the caller’s message and the recipient’s response.

“Philadelphia International Airport is committed to providing maximum accessibility for all of our passengers,” says Acting Aviation Director Mark Gale. “This shows how technology can be used to break down barriers and improve the overall travel experience.”

The system was introduced by Global Tel*Link, which operates the airport’s pay phones. It offers services in English and Spanish and can be found near Gate C-16 in Terminal C; a second video phone is slated for Terminal F.

The new system complements another initiative introduced earlier this summer to aid the hearing-impaired; 140 LCD monitors provide travelers a visual translation of information announced over PHL’s overhead public address system.