Sprint extends hearing impaired work in North Dakota

North Dakota renewed a deal with Sprint Corp. for three years for telecommunications relay services to citizens who are hearing- or speech-impaired, the company said yesterday.

The relay service allows the state's citizens with hearing or speech impediments to communicate on the phone with hearing persons through a relay operator, who acts as an intermediary for calls between the two parties. The operator speaks the words typed by deaf users on a text phone or via the Internet, and relays the hearing person's spoken response by typing back a message to the caller.

This is the third relay services contract awarded to Sprint by North Dakota, said Stephanie Taliaferro, a company spokeswoman. Sprint won the first contract in July 1993, and the state renewed the contract in July 1998. The new contract will run through June 2007. Taliaferro declined to state the value of the contracts.

Sprint delivers approximately 24,000 minutes of relay services per month in North Dakota, the company said. The service is accessible by dialing 711 or one of several toll-free numbers.

The Overland Park, Kan., telco provides Federal Communication Commission-compliant relay services for 32 states, Puerto Rico and the federal government. The company employs approximately 65,000 workers worldwide and had more than $26 billion in annual revenue in 2003.

Sprint ranks No. 28 on Washington Technology's 2004 Top 100 list of federal prime contractors.

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