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Sep 16, 2003

Partnership with HANDSCOMM Leads to Visual-Based Communication Options for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Ashburn, VA - September 04, 2003 - MCI (WCOEQ, MCWEQ) today announced the expansion of its global relay services with the launch of Video Relay Service (IP Relay VRS) nationwide, offering the country's Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community an enhanced way to communicate with others using sign language and Internet-based, videoconferencing technology.

IP Relay VRS makes it possible for persons with a hearing and/or speech disability to reach beyond the limitations of older Text Telephone (TTY) technology and communicate with hearing telephone users in real time. IP Relay VRS conversations move at faster speeds and with increased communication quality. The visual component also enables users to express emotions, facial expressions and gestures that enhance the overall conversation.

MCI IP Relay VRS enables a person who is Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to make a relay call to a standard phone user by using the sign language of their choice to communicate visually with a video interpreter over the Internet using a web camera. A VRS call is initiated by the person who signs, the video interpreter then facilitates the conversation by speaking to the hearing person as the sign language user signs and vice versa.

"Innovative products and services that enhance the communication experience are a hallmark of MCI, " said Hadi Alsegaf, Director of MCI Global Relay Services. "MCI pioneered IP relay service and we are committed to ongoing improvements which provide the Deaf and Hard-of- Hearing community as well as their family and friends with the latest in communication technology."

The new IP Relay VRS offered by MCI is a result of an agreement with HANDSCOMM, Inc. of Rocklin, Calif. This business relationship combines MCI's Relay technical expertise in network and service delivery with HANDSCOMM's proven reputation of providing skilled, nationally-certified sign language interpreters to facilitate IP Relay VRS calls and ensure confidentiality.

"We are pleased to join with MCI in creating a service that dramatically enhances the communication options for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community," said HANDSCOMM President Ronald E. Obray. "MCI's nationwide telecommunications network, combined with HANDSCOMM's years of expertise serving this community, will deliver a vastly improved option for millions of American consumers to communicate with others."

There is no charge to use IP Relay VRS and all domestic long-distance calls are free. In order to place or receive a video relay call, sign language users must have high-speed access to the Internet (either through DSL or cable modem) and a web camera. Free IP Relay VRS software is available for Deaf and Hard-of Hearing people to use by logging on to and clicking on the install software button. The software automatically configures itself and, once installed, users can immediately place a call.

To place a call, sign language users simply go to and click on "IP Relay Video," enter the phone number and a certified sign language interpreter will appear on screen to facilitate the call.

Added Benefits
In addition to real time conversations and quality connections, MCI IP Relay VRS software offers an array of additional benefits including:
Nationally-certified English and Spanish interpreters.
"Call Alert" which automatically flashes the IP Relay screen to alert the user that the other party is on line.
"Adjustable Agent Video Window" which allows the user to adjust the window to any size, with no limits, either before, during or after a call with a Video Interpreter. Video quality remains sharp at any size.
"Secure Text Chat" which makes it easy to securely and confidentially communicate information such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, credit card numbers, complicated directions or to clarify what is being said or signed. After completing the call, the information can be saved or printed to retain important data.
"IP Relay VRS Online Support," available for technical issues and customer service.

About WorldCom, Inc.
WorldCom, Inc. (WCOEQ, MCWEQ), which currently conducts business under the MCI brand name, is a leading global communications provider, delivering innovative, cost-effective, advanced communications connectivity to businesses, governments and consumers. With the industry's most expansive global IP backbone, based on the number of company-owned POPs, and wholly-owned data networks, WorldCom develops the converged communications products and services that are the foundation for commerce and communications in today's market. For more information, go to

HANDSCOMM, INC. operates Hands On Video Relay Service (HOVRS) and Hands On Sign Language Services, which have provided ASL interpreting services and other services to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing communities for over 12 years. Founded by a 20-year veteran of the sign language interpretation industry, HANDSCOMM employs dozens of nationally certified ASL interpreters. It is the company's mission to provide 24/7/365 video relay availability. HANDSCOMM is dedicated to providing the highest quality video relay services by combining excellence in video technology and the most fluent certified video interpreters. Additional information about the company can be obtained on its website:

Media Contacts:

Audrey Waters for MCI

Amy Bonetti for HANDSCOMM
Big Mouth Communications