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Relay UK

Relay UK - a new name, a new app!

Today we’re renaming our Next Generation Text (NGT) relay service to Relay UK, as well as  launching an updated and easier to use app. Find out how to download the new Relay UK app here.

We’ve renamed our service and the app as often when hearing people received relay calls that were previously introduced as “Next Generation Text” or “Text Relay”, they commonly mistook this as relating to an SMS service and didn’t want to take the call. By renaming our service and app to Relay UK, we’re reducing confusion and helping more deaf people successfully contact the businesses and services they want to reach by phone.

Only 1 in 20 of those who are deaf or have hearing loss can complete tasks over the phone, according to a new survey[1], leaving 70% of the deaf community (about 8.4 million) to ask friends or family members for help with basic calls.

Our Ofcom regulated service translates text to speech and vice versa with the help of a specially trained Relay Assistant based in one of BT’s contact centres around the country.

The new app offers an improved customer experience and new functionality. The technology, developed by BT, enables a user to easily make a call based on their own accessibility needs. The user can connect to calls by selecting one of three options: Type & Read, Speak & Read or Type & Hear.

Available for download today, the new Relay UK app remains free[2] to use and is available to UK mobile customers in the UK.

The development of Relay UK has been led by BT on behalf of stakeholders across the deaf community, such as Action on Hearing Loss, UK Council on Deafness, National Deaf Children’s Society and Hearing Link.

I have difficulty communicating with anyone on the phone. I can hear that the person is speaking on the other end, but unfortunately cannot make out what they are saying because I rely on lipreading. But sometimes picking up the phone is the best way to get things done and in those situations, I often rely on my mum’s help. This app has been amazing for me as it has enabled me to become so much more independent when doing things as simple as booking an appointment at my local salon.

Louise Goldsmith , Deaf Advocate

How we use technology to connect with each other has changed rapidly in recent decades, but this simple service has the power to transform the calling experience for the estimated 12 million deaf people in the UK. We know from conversations with the community that bad telephone experiences are putting people off from using the phone to contact businesses, which can make certain services inaccessible. We’re urging businesses to alert frontline staff to the service and download our helpful Relay UK Business Toolkit, which includes educational content about the service – and what to expect when taking a call from one of our Relay Assistants. We hope that by downloading the toolkit, businesses will be able to provide a seamless call experience for their deaf customers.

Katherine Ainley , MD BT Ventures

[1] The consumer research poll was conducted with the support of UK Council on Deafness, between 15-23.10.2019, with 129 nationally representative UK Adults who are deaf or hard of hearing

[2] Relay UK is free to use, but users will still be charged the standard rate to make a call as determined by their call plan

Other useful things to know:

  • Relay UK is replacing the Next Generation Text (NGT) app, but the existing NGT Lite app will remain available in the short term
  • The Relay UK app is available on mobiles and tablets and supports Android 6 upwards and iOS 10 upwards
  • A desktop app for Windows PCs and Macs will be launched during 2020 – in the meantime the NGT Lite version will continue to work as today


To find out more about Relay UK, please click here.

To download the Relay UK Business Toolkit, please click here.

Click here for instructions on how to download the Relay UK app for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

25 November 2019