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Telecommunications Primer for Folks with Hearing Loss

Telecommunications Primer for Folks with Hearing Loss

By Marjie Page

Editor: This article was actually a reply to a question someone asked on one of the hearing loss lists, and I thought that information this good has to be shared! So I asked Marjie’s permission, and she graciously agreed. Those who can attend an ALDA Suncoast meeting can visit with Marjie in person!

September 2004

Broadband internet enables you to use Video IP Relay (you sign to the operator and they sign back). Several different companies provide these services, you don’t even need a tty. If you want VCO (IP or Video IP), I don’t see why you couldn’t use the cell phone for that, you give the relay operator the number you want them to call for the voice portion, as long as you have 3-way calling, it should work (you, the operator and the other party). You can voice and the operator types back or you can voice and the operator signs back.

For voice to voice calls, you could get a loop to work with t-coils on almost any cell phone, some use adapters, some plug directly into a 2.5mm port on your phone, they all have a microphone inline. Nokia makes one compatible only with their phones, they also make one that is compatible with any phone having a 2.5mm plug. Motorola makes one. Test before you buy. You could get a HATIS, it’s like a silhouette that works with your t-switch, works great but expensive and not very durable, you will be replacing it fairly often if you use it a lot. You could upgrade your FM system to the new Phonak that uses Bluetooth and get any Bluetooth enabled phone to use with it. I haven’t the resources to test to see if the wireless connection provides clear sound, but Phonak has a great reputation for quality products. There is a long list of hearing aid compatible cell phones too. (Sorry, I don’t have that list). Ask to use the phones at your provider’s store before you buy and see which works best for you.

I use a SideKick (available only from T-Mobile and another company in California). It has the ability to use relay from Sprint and MCI with the terminal program, to use MCI relay from the AOL Instant Messenger program or use Lormar Relay from IM (to voice is free, to tty for a fee and people can call in where the other relay services are only outgoing). This is really a better phone for data and web, not for voice. I can use voice on it for an emergency call or familiar voices (my husband who doesn’t mind repeating often) if I max out the volume and remove my hearing aid (the current model is not hearing aid compatible, they say the next model will be more accessible). The ear I use for the phone has a severe loss.

I prefer VCO, but no phone can provide that alone yet and I don’t want to carry around an additional device.

Any device (phone, pager, pda) that has AOL Instant Messenger can use the IM Relay services.

You could use a Pocket Speak and Read VCO with almost any phone (hit and miss). Use it with the direct connect feature with a TTY compatible cell phone. This would work for both outgoing and incoming calls (through relay of course).

If you want to use a TTY, the cell phones below are all supposed to be TTY compatible, some may no longer be available. You would need a TTY that says it is digital phone compatible, like a Compact-C, Pocket TTY or Q90. According to the FCC, all cellphone models manufactured starting in the year 2003 are required to be TTY-compatible, but test before you buy.

The Nokias all require an adapter (at additional cost < $10). The Yiso isn’t a phone, more like a modem, but it can make calls when connected to another device (like a TTY or laptop). Some of these phones have J2ME, Java 2 Micro Edition, I have not heard if this makes them compatible with IP-relay though. Ask the online Relay providers for information, they are adding and improving services almost every day.

I suggest you search the web for the brand and model to see features, who the carriers are and which carriers offer the service required for using the tty feature (all carriers do not support all tty enabled phones, just because they have it, doesn’t mean it works for ttys on their network). I provided phone numbers for customer service of the manufacturers when available.

Sony Ericsson

6800 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
6590 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
6590i with HDA-9 TTY adapter
6360 with HDA-8 TTY adapter
6340 with HDA-8 TTY adapter
3660 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3650 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3620 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3600 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3595 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3590 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3560 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3520 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3361 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3360 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3300 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3200 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
3100 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
2260 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
1261 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
1260 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
1221 with HDA-9 TTY adapter
1100 with HAD-9 TTY adapter

Motorola (TTY phone number 888-390-6456)

Versio EB-TX320
Allure EB-TX310


Kyocera (TTY phone number 858-882-3858, is now saying all their phones have standard feature of tty compatibility)


Samsung (Hidden Menus to Enable/Disable TTY capability, not easily figured out)



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