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Telecommunications Relay Service
Telecommunications Relay Service provides full telephone accessibility to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled. Specially trained Communication Assistants (CAs) serve as intermediaries, relaying conversations between hearing persons and persons using a text telephone device (TTY). Relay Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the length or number of calls placed. This valuable communications tool gives all individuals the opportunity to make personal and business calls just like any other telephone user.
The relay service makes it possible for teachers in postsecondary settings to notify deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled students of any class changes or cancellations. These students can also use the service to contact instructors when necessary.
The most common device used to make a relay call is a TTY that can be used together with a phone handset. However, the equipment you need may vary depending upon the type of relay service you use. For more information on how to obtain a device in your area for your specific needs, call your state relay service. In some cases, the equipment may be available at little or no cost to you.
You only need a telephone. Each state provides a toll-free number to reach a Communication Assistant. The number is listed in local phone books.
There is no charge for using a relay service within your local calling area. Long distance call rates are determined by the carrier of choice. Please notify the Communication Assistant of your preferred billing option: direct; collect; third party; local exchange carrier (LEC) calling card; other long distance calling card; or prepaid phone card.
A person who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled uses a TTY to type his/her conversation to a Communication Assistant who then reads the typed conversation to a hearing person. The Communication Assistant relays the hearing person’s spoken words by typing them back to the TTY user.
Standard telephone users can easily initiate calls to TTY users. The Communication Assistant types the hearing person’s spoken words to the TTY user and reads back the typed replies.
Hearing Carryover (HCO) allows speech-disabled users with hearing to listen to the person they are calling. The HCO user types his/her conversation for the Communication Assistant to read to the standard telephone user.
Voice Carryover (VCO) allows users who are hard of hearing or deaf and prefer to use their own voice to speak directly to a hearing person. When the hearing person speaks to you, a Communication Assistant will serve as your “ears” and type everything said to you on a TTY or text display.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in November, 1993, issued an order outlining an interim plan for access to public payphone service through relay services.
The order states that:
In case of emergency, TTY users should call the TTY-equipped 9-1-1 Center or emergency services center in their community. All customers should verify the emergency phone numbers for TTY calls in their area. Calls placed directly and immediately to the local TTY emergency number can save valuable time in urgent situations. For more information on how to obtain emergency numbers in your area, call your state Relay Service number.
Each state has its own Telecommunications Relay Service provider, and a variety of relay features are available. California is the only state where relay users can choose from multiple providers. To find out who provides relay service in your state, check your local telephone book. You may also call your relay provider’s customer service number and request up-to-date information on the special features your relay service has available. Telecommunications Relay Service is for everyone! Reach out and communicate without giving it a second thought!
If you have any further questions on this topic, about working with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, or would like more information, contact:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
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URL to article: http://www.necc.mass.edu/academics/support-services/learning-accommodations/deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-services/student-resources/accommodations-tipsheets/telecommunications-relay-service/
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