Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

 Q: What is Real-Time Text?

A: Real-Time Text is a feature that allows users to see text as it is typed into a text interface. It differs from Internet instant messaging (IM) and mobile texting (SMS) in that the characters appear in near real-time as they are typed or created, not as a block of text after it is written. Real-Time Text is communicating using text that is the closest to voice communication.


Q: What can Real-Time Text be used for?

A: Real-Time Text can be used on its own to enable conversations using text. It can also be used where voice is impractical (such as in noisy environments or meetings), or as an adjunct to voice and video conversations to transfer text information with the audio or video feed. Real-time transcription of a video or audio conference is an example.


Q: What is the FCC Mandate and date it is required?

A: The FCC has allowed wireless carriers to support RTT on wireless IP networks in lieu of supporting TTY communication on wireless IP networks. Tier 1 providers are required to support RTT on their networks by the end of 2017, and have all of their new devices support RTT by Dec. 31, 2019. Other providers have until June 30, 2020 to support RTT on their networks and June 30, 2021 to have their new devices support RTT.

“Supporting RTT” includes implementing support for backwards compatibility from RTT to TTY for a period of time until the FCC determines that backwards compatibility is no longer needed. The “sunset date” for backward compatibility has not been determined yet.

“Supporting RTT” also includes delivering calls to 911 via RTT where the PSAP is capable of supporting RTT.

“Supporting RTT” also allows calls to 711 via RTT or via TTY. The FCC is exploring at what point to change the nature of this “requirement” and to potentially force carriers and TRS providers to support RTT. Hamilton is in favor of TRS providers supporting RTT and requiring carriers to deliver TRS calls via RTT instead of TTY.


Q: Why is Real-Time Text important to people who are deaf or hard of hearing?

A: It allows a more natural, bi-directional flow of text based conversation to take place compared with the “type-enter-wait-read-response-reply” technology of IM (chat) and SMS. In fact: when Real-Time Text is fully mainstream, it will be solving one of the biggest accessibility problems of Internet communications for people who are deaf or hard of hearing!


Q: Is there a higher risk in miscommunication and/or confusion when using Real-Time Text compared to chat/Instant Messaging?

A: No, not at all. There is no proof that there is more miscommunication due the real-time nature of Real-Time Text. In fact, just like with speech, the users can immediately interrupt the conversation and ask for clarification.