IP (Internet Protocol) Relay is a service where persons with difficulty in hearing or speaking can communicate with other persons through relay operators who convey messages to other voice or video parties through the internet. Here’s a sample mock scenario so you’ll have a better understanding on how it works. A hard of hearing person wants to contact another person. First, the caller (the hard of hearing person) contacts a relay operator via chat or instant messaging. The relay operator then acts as the link between the two persons. The relay operator will voice out the messages of the hard of hearing person and in turn will type all the voice party says. This way, the 2 persons can communicate.
This can be accomplished by using a regular internet browser in desktop or laptop PCs. Even PDAs and other handheld devices are capable of using the IP relay services. It is not limited and can be used by anyone. This service is usually free of charge as well. But again this is more of an assistive communications service. The conversation is moderated by the operator to have a smooth flow much like a seamless conversation. But then, all of these IP relay conversations should be treated with utmost confidentiality and any detail of an actual conversation should not be divulged.
Let’s go back to the technical aspect. IP Relay is a very feasible way of using relay since all you need is a decent internet connection (even 56k dial up connections can handle it) and a browser or instant messaging/chat software. It’s really cheap compared to buying a device specifically for relay such as a teletypewriter (TTY). This is probably the main reason why it’s really popular.
It’s just too bad that there are lots of people who make prank calls through the relay service. No offense, but think of it this way if you ever made a prank call to an IP relay service. What if there comes a point in time when you would actually need the service? Most probably it won’t be funny anymore right? This is very common but hopefully the number of prank callers will lessen.
IP Relay is a really good service for the public. There are many other uses of IP relay and there are also other types of relay services which uses other kinds of devices such as TTYs and video relay. You can search around the internet and look for companies offering IP relay services. Again, it’s free of charge but should be used responsibly.