TELEPHONE RESOURCES IN WASHINGTON STATE
Dialing 711 Gets You The Telephone Relay Service
Relay services ensure that people with hearing loss and speech disabilities achieve functionally equivalent access to telecommunications services. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees the program at the federal level, but at the Washington level, the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing makes sure we have relay services. The Washington Relay Service has its own website and Sprint provides relay operators and phone lines.
Video Relay Service (VRS), a supplement to TTY relay service, is also available in Washington. VRS permits American Sign Language users to communicate in their native language. It requires a videophone or a computer with a video camera. ASL interpreters are available 24/7.
Special Telephone Equipment Available
Washington State Telecommunications Equipment Distribution (TED) Program under the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing distributes telephone equipment for the hearing impaired. Payment is on a sliding scale from free to full-price, depending on your income level. Who qualifies? Washington residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled. Equipment available includes flashing light and adjustable loudness phone ringers, amplified phones, text-telephone TTYs, voice carry-over (VCO) phones, Captel phones and large visual displays. Equipment available for those with both a hearing impairment and mobility restrictions includes remote control speakerphones. Captel phones are new and were added thanks to the advocacy of HLA-WA leaders.
Reduced Price Phone Lines
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission offers discounted basic phone service for those participating in a DSHS program. The acronym for this program is WTAP (Washington Telephone Assistance Program). For more information, contact your local telephone company or check out this web page offered by the Citizens Utility Alliance of Washington.
Keeping Up With The Wireless Revolution
Hearing Loss Association of America offers an excellent brochure that tells you just what you need to know to buy a wireless phone.