'The Remarkable Tech Bringing the Deaf and Hearing Worlds Together'

Matt Simon for Wired, on how tech has helped the deaf owners of SF's Mozzeria pizza parlor thrive:

Back in olden times, before smartphones or the internet, deaf-run businesses relied on fax machines to take orders. (Consider how much you loathe fax machines. Now imagine that being your way of life.) The deaf could also use a teletypewriter, or TTY, which transmitted text as a printout or on a screen—a good way for them to communicate with each other, but not exactly widely adopted among the hearing. TTYs did allow the deaf to type to relay services that acted as intermediarues between the deaf and hearing. These services were a big deal for deaf communication, but the process was slow and laborious.

Then along come smartphones and tablets, forever transforming the way the deaf communicate. Through a video relay service, the deaf and hearing can communicate seamlessly with only a slight delay between replies. “Now I have the ability to sign completely with an interpreter who’s able to speak what I’m saying and voice for me,” says Russ Stein, who co-owns Mozzeria with wife Melody. “It feels like I’m in the same room with another person.”

As someone whose background is rooted in the deaf community, I can relate to much of what Simon writes. Mozzeria's flashing green light for calls reminds me of the flashing lights we had in our house growing up, so that my parents could be alerted that the phone and/or doorbell was ringing.

Be sure to watch the video, too. This is a great tie-in to iOS 10's Software TTY accessibility feature.