I discovered Action on Hearing Loss’s TalkByText Service a year or so ago. It was a service which allowed you to access typetalk via a very simple looking website.
To me, it was a godsend. It meant that I could make typetalk relay calls via my laptop, my desktop computer, or even my smartphone. It ran entirely in web browsers, no matter what computer you had or what software you were running. It was also fantastic being able to copy and paste information from my computer to my relay chats, such as bank account numbers, customer reference numbers, and more.
No more having to rely on interpreters to make boring calls to my mobile provider or to my local GP, either.
I could also relegate my dusty old textphone to its rightful place – the attic. No more trying to negotiate the correct phone connection with my workplace’s IT department, or having to pull it out of a draw and plug it in when I needed to make an urgent call.
As of today, March 1st, that has ended. The charity can no longer afford to offer the service due to the maintenance costs involved.
The TalkByText website suggests lots of alternatives including Skype, Oovoo and Texbox.
The only one, as far as I can tell, which allows you to access relay operators, is Aupix’s TCPhone software.
The TCPhone software was originally intended for video relay use. When they found out about Action On Hearing Loss’s plans to withdraw web relay, they added web relay functionality to their own service.
It took me a while to figure out how to use the service, with a bit of help from Aupix, who reply to service enquiries really quickly and helpfully I’ve found. Here’s how it works.
Head to http://aupix.com/.
Sign up for an account. You’re given a unique phone number on the service and a login and password.
You then need to add credit to your account, from the “myAccount” pages on the site (http://www.aupix.com/my-account) by either using a Paypal account or selecting a credit/debit card option in the
Once you’ve “topped up” your account, you can make calls to minicoms (calling the minicom number and area code) and to hearing people through BT by prefixing the number with 18001. Aupix users can also call each other with voice, video and text for free – similar to Skype. You can also receive calls from hearing people – but that’s more complicated. https://portal.aupix.com/webphone/?s=TCPhone
The software to use TCPhone works in your web browser, as a PC software package, or as mobile software.
I use the web browser software – but there’s a disturbing side effect – you have to have a typetalk conversation while looking at a video of yourself. Best resolved by putting a bit of tape over your computer’s webcam!
Another nice touch – before the start of each call, you see a statement of balance with how much estimated call time you have left. At the time of writing I have about 140mins of call time left.
The myAccount pages show monthly statements for individual calls and allows each user to set up any options they might want for the messaging service. The call costs seem reasonable – around the same as the normal cost of a call, although people on a forum I use reckon it costs about the same as TalkByText.
– Create a TCPhone Text account here (http://www.aupix.com/tcphone/text)
– Download the software, see here for details
– Add credit to your myAccount, login here (http://www.aupix.com/my-account)
– Make calls (prepend with 18001 for relay and always include the area code)
In terms of the software you need: you should install the TCPhone application for the device you purchase (there is only one version of the software and it is used for TCPhone, TCPhone Text and TCPhone Relay). So, the place you download from is as follows:
– iPhone, download TCPhone from the Apple App Store
– Android, download TCPhone from Google Play
– PC, download TCPhone for Windows from our web site
– Web Browser, visit our web site and go to:
Once you have a TCPhone Text account, this same username and password can be used on any of the devices supported – iPhone, Android, PC and Web Browser.
What I most liked about Aupix’s service was their willingness to respond quickly to my queries. With their help I was up and running in no time at all.
So that’s Aupix TCPhone. It seems to be the best available replacement for TalkByText Web Edition. But the Limping Chicken readership might be able to suggest alternatives!
Perhaps Hyperterminal is better? Maybe you have your own particular hack for accessing relay services via your computer. Or perhaps you prefer to kick it old school with your trusty textphone. Tell us about it in the comments!
William Mager is a Contributing Editor for Limping Chicken. He is also an award-winning director for film and TV, who made his first film aged 14 when he “set fire to a model Audi Quattro and was subsequently banned from the school film club for excessive pyromania.” He’s made short films, dramas and mini-series, and works for the BBC. Find out all about his work at his personal website, read his blog, and if you’re on Twitter, follow him here.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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