The Deaf in America are, many times, unable to make a text phone call via the internet because Hearing teenaged pranksters and professional foreign scammers are using the service instead. IP Relay allows a Deaf person to go to a website and place a phone call by typing in the phone number they want to call. A live Operator will dial the call and then voice whatever the Deaf person types and also type whatever is spoken back in response to the Deaf caller.
Two of the most popular online IP Relay services are provided by MCI and Sprint. The abuse happens when non-Deaf people get online and use the IP Relay service to place phony phone calls, to harass friends, to steal money and to stalk women. As interpreters, Relay Operators are required to be transparent and to type and voice everything said on each side of the conversation so the opportunity to force a Relay Operator into voicing obscenities or to press them into asking for money are too irresistible for the immature and immoral to resist. You can read more about the problem here:
If you ever receive a Relay call please do not hang up on the Deaf caller. 85% of Relay calls are placed to those who have never before experienced a call and most of the people just hang up. If you answer the phone and you hear something like, “This is IP Relay Operator 3126 calling; have you experienced a Relay call before?”
Please stay on the line and continue the conversation. It takes three times longer to hold a typed three party conversation than it does to have a spoken one, so be prepared for a delay between what you say, when it is typed to the Deaf person and the Deaf person types a response and the Relay Operator reads it back to you. You will need to curry all of your kindness and patience to hold a successful Relay conversation and if you’re too busy to be bothered by a Relay call, think about the 99% hang up rate on Deaf callers when they try to place a pizza delivery order or to call for a taxi. Relay calls via the internet are not cheap.
They get billed at $1.45 per minute. All IP Relay calls are currently free to all parties — but in the end we all pay because IP Relay is sponsored by the Federal government. While the IP Relay companies do not appreciate the pranksters and the profiteers using their system, in the end, it isn’t an issue for them to care enough to police because they are paid no matter who uses the service for whatever reason. The Deaf suffer when their services are stolen by those who don’t need them because the Deaf cannot get through to an operator in an emergency or when they have a vital call to make.
The hard-won Elysian Fields of semi-even plane communication and equal access finally tended by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 are today too often pillaged for profanity and profit. When you see an able-bodied person using the handicapped automatic door opener for a building so they can waltz through where only wheelchairs are meant to pass, you are witnessing the same selfish behavior that is ruining IP Relay for the Deaf.