Friday, January 18, 2008

Review of AIM® 6.8 Beta for the Deaf

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, 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 Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, adds a conversational flow to messaging that was not previously available.

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.


Kim said...

Cool! I'm sooooo Old School. My SK was stolen and I'm lost. (sigh) Can you help me?

Kim :-(
PS-- I have to stay with T-Mobile for another year.

Deb Ann and Hannah said...

I haven't done AIM for a long time!

Unknown said...

Interesting info...Love you! Jodi

Anonymous said...

I'm on AIM (Sillikiwi), and MSN ( and Skype (Robyn Carter)


Anonymous said...


Privacy is a concern to some people. There are some who don't want others to see what they're typing until it is sent. Some are self-conscious.

I think this is justified for IM conversation not involving the relay service.

However, in the context of IM involving the relay service, functional equivalency comes to mind.

I think the interpreter and the hearing person on the other end is entitled to see what one's "saying" in the first place before "sending" because on the other side one can't take back what's said vocally.

Just my two cents.

Please bear with my desire to remain anonymous. I'm a native user of ASL and I don't speak nor hear. I don't wear hearing aids. Most of all, I don't want to be attacked for my wildly objective viewpoints putting devil's advocates to shame.

Abbie said...


Feel free to remain anonymous! I don't want any one to feel like they could be subjected to nitpicking. Opinions are opinions, lord knows everyone has one! :)

I do see where you are coming from, the real-time IM feature is certainly a rather raw form of communicating. I don't see myself particularly ever utilizing it for personal use but I think it would cut down on the time it takes to do relay call. This feature mimics the old days of when BBS systems were popular. It was helpful then, and I can see it being helpful now

Anonymous said...

This is great I am Deaf myself and I teach Deaf kids so they will be watching this in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Hi Abbie. Its Melis. I know it has been alittle while since Ive been on ur site, but I wanted to show some love and repsond to your last blg. Im with you with the aim girl. Miss you.

Cyborg Queen said...

Interesting...I think it's better if it's used for the NEED for real-time, such as Relay service through AIM. I never use AIM for relay, I always used AT&T site, or IP-Relay on SK. What if I typed up an angry message, or something that sounded wrong, then I want to delete what I said, then say my statement again in the correct way. I've done that before where I had to edit what I say so the other party doesn't get pissed off.

Sugar said...

Sounds like you have been enjoying your CI just as I with mine! I was implanted Sept. 2006 and love it!