The CPUC, through its Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), has launched a visual component to its Speech-to-Speech service in order to make placing assisted calls easier and faster for customers. This visual component to California’s Speech-to-Speech service is the first of its kind in the U.S.
Speech-to-Speech service enables a person whose speech is difficult for others to understand to communicate by telephone with the help of a Communications Assistant, who remains on the line to assist during the call. With a Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech call, in addition to a basic phone call to the relay service, the Speech-to-Speech caller is also using a webcam or videophone with Skype to connect with the Communications Assistant at a relay call center. This enables the Communications Assistant to see the Speech-to-Speech user as they are speaking. Seeing the Speech-to-Speech caller’s mouth movements, facial expressions, and gestures, and possibly even cue cards (e.g., yes, no) can enable the Communications Assistant to better understand and re-voice for the caller. Users of Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices can also share the information they are typing via Skype, using computer emulation.
The DDTP is a program of the CPUC, providing Californians who are deaf and disabled with specialized telephone equipment and relay services through the California Telephone Access Program and California Relay Service, respectively. Speech-to-Speech is a part of the California Relay Service. The Program serves people who are challenged using a standard telephone because of difficulty seeing, hearing, speaking, moving, or remembering.
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Consumers in the 408 area code should begin dialing 1+ area code + telephone number as the best way to prepare for the introduction of the new 669 area code overlay later this fall.
In October 2011, the CPUC approved an all-services overlay that added a new 669 area code to the same geographic region as the existing 408 area code in order to provide additional telephone numbers to meet increasing consumer demand. The January 2013 forecasted 408 number exhaust prompted the CPUC’s action.
All consumers having telephone numbers with a 408 area code should start dialing 1 + the 10-digit number (1 + 408 + telephone number) before October 20, 2012. After that date, 1 + the 10-digit number dialing will be mandatory. (To complete calls from a mobile phone in the 408 or 669 area codes, callers do not have to include the 1 when dialing the area code and phone number.)
After October 20, 2012, calls made without 1 + the 10-digit number will not be completed and the caller will be instructed to hang up and dial again. Beginning November 20, 2012, new communications services may be assigned numbers with the new 669 area code.
The 669 overlay will only change dialing patterns. It will not change a customer's existing telephone number, including current area code, or the cost of a telephone call, coverage area, or other rates and services. A local call will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
The 408 area code is predominantly in Santa Clara County, as well as neighboring cities and small unincorporated portions of Alameda and Santa Cruz Counties. Cities in the 408 area code include San Jose, as well as the cities of Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, and a portion of Palo Alto.
To prepare for the new 669 area code that will be overlaid on the 408 area code geographic region this fall, consumers should ensure that their automatic dialing equipment or other types of equipment that are programmed with a 7-digit telephone number are re-programmed to use the new dialing procedure. Some examples are life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, speed dialers, gates, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions.
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