A service that’s allowed thousands of Iowans to reach out and talk to someone celebrates its tenth birthday today. The “Iowa Relay” system began operating in 1992 under a mandate from the Americans with Disabilities Act. Joni Nicoll oversees the program for the Iowa Utilities Board. She says the relay allows people who’re hearing or speech impaired to make phone calls through a special operator.That operator reads a text message from the caller over the phone to the person they are calling. Nicoll says the service lets the callers make the normal phone calls the rest of us take for granted.She says it started with about five thousand calls per month, and now has grown to over 40-thousand calls per month. Nicoll says the service has expanded and now includes video exchange for people who sign.The Iowa Relay service is free to users and is paid for by the telephone companies serving the state. The Utilities Board and service supporters are holding a tenth anniversary celebration today in Des Moines.
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