Telecommunications Relay and Speech to Speech Services
Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), also sometimes referred to as TDD (telecommunications devices for the deaf), is a service mandated by Federal and State rules and statutes.
Act 207, Session Laws of Hawaii, Regular Session of 1988 (Act 207) required the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to implement a program to make this service available to the hearing impaired no later than July 1, 1989. As a result, the PUC ordered Verizon Hawaii (formerly known as GTE Hawaiian Telephone Company) to implement such a service, and TRS services has been available since that time. (PUC Docket No. 6440) Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that this service be expanded. Therefore, phone companies were required to also make Speech to Speech (STS) service available to the speaking-impaired, as well as providing this service in Spanish, to consumers who may require such services by March 1, 2001.
TRS is a program that allows hearing impaired people to make use of telecommunications services. TRS provides a way for the hearing impaired to make use of a text telephone (TTY) to communicate with those with a regular telephone. The hearing impaired person types their message using the TTY and a specially trained communications assistant (CA) will relay that message to the other party not using a TTY. And, the CA will relay the oral message from the party not using TTY to the person using the TTY.
STS is a new program that allows speaking-impaired individuals to also make greater use of telecommunications services. STS allows speaking-impaired individuals to make phone calls with their own voice, voice prosthesis or communications device, as applicable. Certain speaking-impaired individuals may be able to use TTY to communicate, but certain speaking-impaired individuals may not have the physical ability to use TTY, thus STS offers an alternative that will allow access to telecommunications services. Basically, STS can be used by anyone with a speech disability or anyone who wishes to call someone with a speech disability. Examples of people who may benefit from this service are those with speech disabilities caused by cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, laryngectomies, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, to name a few. STS also makes use of specially trained CA to conduct these calls. Per FCC mandate, STS is also available in Spanish. At this time, the FCC has not mandated that STS be made available in any other language other than Spanish. However, those individuals who are speaking-impaired or know of people who are speaking-impaired that speak other languages are encourage to contact the FCC and Verizon Hawaii to let them know that there is interest in making available STS in these other languages.
CAs are instructed to conduct these calls in the strictest confidence, where conversations are not to be relayed or discussed at all. Recent FCC regulations also require that the CAs demonstrate a certain level of ability to facilitate a conversation that flows as smoothly as possible.
Important Contact Information
The following phone numbers should be used to utilize these services:
711 – This is Verizon Hawaii’s main general number for TRS
Verizon Hawaii’s direct lines, which may result in faster service (compared to dialing 711), for available services are:
|643-8833||–||This number should be used by TTY users impaired individuals|
|643-8255||–||This number should be used by speaking customers wishing to call hearing|
|643-0787||–||This number should be used to utilize STS services|
The Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii offers additional information and resources to those with disabilities. They can be contacted at 532-7110. Neighbor islands can call (800)645-3007 toll free. FAX 532-7120. Email [email protected] . Website www.atrc.org .