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A new service from BT that is set to help people with hearing and speech difficulties around the UK make phone calls has been rolled out in 15 major cities.

Developed in partnership with InLinkUK, the Next Generation Text (NGT) service is available on InLinks systems in locations including Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester, Portsmouth and Cardiff, as well as 11 London boroughs.

This allows users to type the words they wish to say into an InLinks touch-screen tablet and have a Relay Assistant speak those words to the recipient of the call. The Relay Assistant then types back any responses to the caller, allowing for an effective two-way conversation over the phone.

The system is fully confidential and removes the need for users to download the NGT app onto their personal smartphone or tablet. 

People with hearing and speech difficulties can therefore make calls from public street units using an app for the first time since NGT was launched.

Neil Scoresby, general manager, payphones and InLinkUK at BT, said: "With more than 320 InLinks in the heart of city centres across the UK, we’re pleased that even more people can make use of the free call service the InLinks offer.

"Each week we bring new InLinks to even more towns and cities across the UK, providing a vital lifeline for many, right at the heart of our bustling urban centres."

General manager of InLinkUK Matt Bird added he was "thrilled" to introduce the NGT service across the UK to better support people with hearing or speech difficulties.

He added that the InLinks service has been designed to be accessible to all users, regardless of their physical or technological capabilities.

BT also noted that with more than 230,000 unique Wi-Fi subscribers and more than 70,000 calls made across the network each week, the InLinks are well used in the communities they serve.

"This service will be a welcome addition to the current accessibility features already present on the InLinks," the company said.

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