For the last several years, Purple has been the sole provider of AIM IP-Relay. Previously, IP-Relay, including AIM-based IP-Relay, was provided by Hamilton Relay, Sorenson, and AT&T. Over time, they quit. Now Purple has stopped offering IP-Relay, which means the deaf, deafblind, and speech impaired, no longer have an AIM-based text relay service.
Major advantages of IM-based relay (some of these advantages come from comments filed with the FCC):
- If the power is out, the AIM users could still communicate using their phones
- Deaf-blind users can easily expand the font sizes
- Deaf-blind users who can not see sign language, but could see enough to use a computer, could use AIM relay
- AIM users can be anywhere physically – they are not tied to a computer
- AIM has a web-only version called WebAIM, so users who do not install the software can access AIM from any computer
- The 10-digit phone numbers given out by IP-Relay had area codes corresponding to where the user lived. That was very important for deaf business owners and job seekers
- AIM gave users the ability to see calls come in due to the IM client’s ability to flash the icon at the bottom of the screen. With Sprint’s IP-Relay, users can make calls but can not see calls come in.
- Some users do not want to be seen on a VRS service for privacy reasons
- Users who did not sign or who lacked good sign skills, needed AIM
- Because a user’s AIM screen name was tied to their registered, verified IP-Relay account, the user did not need to sign in. Sprint’s IP-Relay requires users to sign in with a user name and password.
- InnoCaption requires a voice and data plan. Many deaf people have data-only plans because they can't use the voice services. Do we now need to upgrade to more expensive voice and data plans, wasting money on voice services that we can’t use?
- Some people work in workplaces that do not allow cell phones. Those employees obviously can not use Innocaption on the job.
- InnoCaption does not allow porting of existing IP-Relay 10 digit numbers over to InnoCaption due to their using a specific area code that is totally different from the 10-digit numbers from IP-Relay that had area codes linked to where users lived.
Below are two blog posts which explain more about the issues behind the end of Purple’s IP-Relay service.