I love AIM (AOL Instant Messaging), I always have, and it is an integral part of my daily life. If it was not for AIM expanding the application to work on mobile devices, I don't know what I would have done when I lost my hearing and could no longer pick up a phone. The ability to use the phone was replaced with an unlimited text-messaging plan and very sore thumbs. I discovered i711.com, which uses AIM yet again to make phone calls. When I read this article about Gallaudet in partnership with AOL to develop a new feature called "real-time text options," my ears perked up.
On January 15, 2008, AOL announced a new feature for its popular Instant Messaging: Real-Time IM. This feature, now being beta tested as AIM 6.8, allows AIM “buddies” to see each other’s text, letter by letter, as it is typed, rather than having to wait until the message is complete before it can be seen. This real-time text option, developed in collaboration with Gallaudet’s Technology Access Program (TAP) and the
Trace Centerat the Universityof Wisconsin, , adds a conversational flow to messaging that was not previously available. Madison
This is supposed to stimulate an environment of free flowing conversation. Being the impatient geek that I am, I wanted to take it for a test drive. I dived right into this Beta release and found a willing participant with some coercing to go "real time" with me. The install went smooth. When AIM started up for the first time in Beta 6.8, it looked the same from the previous version. Everything was in its place and there was a place for everything.
Time to get down to business, we instant messaged one another and braced our keyboard as I activated the "Real-time IM" function, real-time indeed. You can see every keystroke, backspace, and typo made. Bearing that in mind, your buddy is now consciously aware that someone else is monitoring every keystroke which might cause them to either type slowly to maintain accuracy or show the trait of a long winded individual :) When your buddy is typing, the background turns an ugly shade of orange which disappears when you send the message. I don't think this would fare well for someone who is deaf/blind or blind. They would have a hard time seeing the words, which would render the real-time mode useless for them. AIM should consider the possibility of changing the font as an alternative. There does not appear to be a problem of when you and your buddy typing at the same time. It is a cool perk to the new AIM family of features.
If AOL clears up the background issue and relay providers that use AIM integrate this feature during relay calls, conversation would flow in a more traditional format rather then the standard that has been adapted by the TTY/TTD and Relay providers. I estimate that it would significantly cut down the time and aggravation to make a relay call as well.
Download and installation instructions are located here
I hear in real time, I chat in real time. Life is good.