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Specialist Task Force 325:
Harmonised Relay Services

Who we are:


Team Leader : Walter Mellors
Team Members : Gunnar Hellström
Juan Calero Gonzalez

What we do :

The STF is funded by EC/EFTA to produce an ETSI Standard for harmonised relay services. The standard will set out the requirements for the provision of all kinds of relay services offered in all networks.
It will identify those new types of text phone services that are IP based and make recommendations on how they should be handled.

Work started in February 2007 and is steered by TC HF at its regular meetings. The fifth draft of the standard was approved at the meeting of HF 46 in June. Following late comment, this version was significantly amended at HF 47 where a final draft was approved to go for ETSI members' vote.

The Standard was approved for members' vote at HF 49, and subsequently approved by members and published in October 2009.

The Technical Report which describes the background work in the preparation of the standard was completed and published in September 2009.

The STF is grateful to those stakeholders who have contributed to the work of the STF. All are still invited to contribute information on Relay Services in their own countries in areas where the report is still incomplete.

A brief presentation of the aims of the work was made to a joint INCOM-TCAM eAccessibility subgroup meeting in Brussels in February.
A further presentation was made to an ETSI Interoperability event in April.
The questionnaire has been given its first trials with service providers in the UK

A presentation of the work of the STF was made by the STF leader at the 21st International Symposium on Human Factors in Telecommunications (HFT 08) in Kuala Lumpur under the title of "The harmonisation of relay services in Europe.

At this symposium W Mellors was surprised and gratified to be presented with the Knut Nordby Design for All accessibility award.

Read our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

Profoundly deaf, deaf-blind and speech-impaired people are unable to use ordinary telephones and so they are locked out of the voice telephone network by their inability to hear and/or speak. They have been able partly to overcome this problem by using text telephones or videophones, but to achieve the accessibility as desired by the Council Resolution of February 2003 some facility is required to enable them to converse with telephone users who only have voice telephones.

Such a facility can be provided by a relay service that can convert between text and speech, normally by means of a human intermediary.

It is also necessary to provide for "spoken to spoken" relays (which translate from a speech impaired user) and to videophone relays which can be used by those whose preferred method of communication is by signing.

The work is intended to contribute to the eEurope 2005 action plan in the area of eInclusion and to respond to the policy objectives set by the European Parliament and Council, aiming at an improved access for people with disabilities to the information society. Furthermore, the ETSI Standard (ES) will increase social cohesion and improve e-business by permitting Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to communicate with disabled customers.

The provision of this ETSI Standard (ETSI ES) will assist regulatory authorities in their task to ensure the harmonized application of the regulatory framework throughout the Community as called for in Article 1 of Directive 2002/21/EC.

It will provide a tool to enable regulators to ensure that all citizens have access to a universal service specified in Directive 2002/22/EC and will also permit them to promote the interests of the citizens of the European Union by addressing the needs of disabled users as called for in Article 8.

The standard will assist the implementation of Directive 2002/22/EC which, in Article 7, requires member states to take specific measures for disabled users to ensure access to publicly available telephone services including access to emergency services, directory enquiry services and directories, equivalent to that enjoyed by other end-users.

The standard will promote innovation by providing a standard that can be referenced in public procurement processes and so will enable operators and manufacturers to provide cost effective services and equipment

Time plan for the work:

The work was completed and the resulting documents were published the Autumn of 2009.


The standard ES 202 975 Harmonized Relay Services
The report TR 102 974 Telecommunication Relay Services,GN,AfrOGQSXSVR@MWyM

How to contact us:

If you  would like more information, please contact the STF leader:

Note: this information is based upon STF working assumptions. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2013-04-13 17:29:17