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Communication Technology


A two-way pager is a wireless device that can instantly send and receive email messages from any pager or computer. Some pagers are able to send and receive messages directly with TTYs, faxes, and captioning systems. This technology is very attractive to deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as interpreters and other hearing professionals that work closely with the Deaf community

T-Mobile Sidekick

The Sidekick is an extremely popular pager with email, text messaging, AIM, Yahoo IM, and internet access.

Fuse Communications

Fuse Wireless is the leading wireless data provider to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. They offer the lowest prices and best service for all your wireless needs.


Agotel was formed in May of 2002 with the sole intention of providing quality pager services at a reasonable cost. Agotel is proud to be a deaf owned and operated company. Our approach to our customers is threefold and simple: provide reasonable prices for pagers and services, provide world class customer service, & provide personalized add-on software so that your pager meets your needs.

Garth Mobile

Keep organized with one device. Pledging to keep in better touch with friends? Remember more special events? Cut time spent at the office surfing the Internet? The T-Mobile Sidekick is perfect for you. When combined with a Sidekick plan, it's your wireless everything, with voice capabilities, web browsing, e-mail, personal organizer and lots more.


Sorenson VP-100

The Sorenson VP-100 is the only videophone made specifically for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to enable fluid communication. The Sorenson VP-100 videophone technology provides deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing users with access to Sorenson VRS, the highest quality video relay service available. The VP-100 includes custom features such as user friendly navigation and dial-by-phone-number technology. The Sorenson VP-100 is easily installed and simply requires a TV and high-speed Internet connection.

Sorenson VP-200

The Sorenson VP-200 is Sorenson Communications' second-generation videophone. The VP-200 makes it possible for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing individuals to easily communicate with each other using videophone technology. With significantly improved video quality, the newly developed VP-200 was designed to work seamlessly with the Sorenson Video Relay Service (VRS). The VP-200 includes new deaf-friendly features such as a LightRing for visual caller ID, a pan/tilt/zoom camera that works with a click of a button, and a new user interface and remote control. The VP-200 makes it easy to call both Sorenson VP-100 and VP-200 videophones with videophone number dialing.


A TTY (teletypewriter or text telephone) is a device for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired to use the telephone by typing messages back and forth to one another, instead of talking and listening. The TTY rings via flashing light or vibrating wrist band. It consists of a keyboard, which holds 20-30 character keys, and a display screen. The letters that the TTY user types into the machine are turned into electrical signals (a beeping sound) that can travel over regular telephone lines. When the signals reach the other TTY user they are converted back into letters which appear on the second caller's display screen. TTY conversations require the use of turn-taking regulators, such as "go ahead (GA)" because both callers cannot type at the same time. Some TTYs are equipped with printers and answering machines.


Clear guide to choosing, using, and buying a TTY

FAQs and General TTY Etiquette Tips for New TTY Users

Useful overview of etiquette, technical information, and extensive abbreviation list

TTY Conversation Abbreviations:
  • GA = go ahead
  • SK = stop keying (end of call)
  • PLS = please
  • HD = hold
  • U = you
  • UR = you are
  • CU = see you
  • THX = thanks
  • TMW = tomorrow
  • Q = question
  • RD = read
  • TERP = interpreter
  • (For a complete TTY abbreviations dictionary, see the RIT Library.)
History of the TTY

The TTY - Still an Essential Communications Tool. They have largely been replaced by email, text pagers, and other modern forms of communication, but the basic TTY is still around.

Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program Association

National association site with links to each state program for distribution of free telecommunications equipment (TTYs) to people with disabilities

Relay Services

Video Relay Service (VRS) is an option for telephone communication between Deaf and hearing people. During a VRS call, a professional ASL-English Interpreter interprets conversations via telephone and video (e.g. webcam or videophone).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the regulatory body for VRS in the United States. The FCC oversees all relay services as a result of their mandate in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to facilitate the provisions equal access to individuals with disabilities over the telephone network. Funding for VRS is provided via Interstate Telecommunications Relay Fund which was created by the FCC originally to fund TTY relay services. The monetary resources for the fund come from telephone bill payers in the United States. The fund is managed by National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA), which also administers the Universal Service Fund. Video conferencing for meetings (as opposed to phone calls) is also available through Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) services.

In addition to regulating the funding of VRS, the FCC regulates the standards that VRS companies and their employees must follow in handle calls. These regulations help to ensure that VRS calls are handled appropriately and ethically. The FCC issued rulings include:

  • The time it takes an interpreter to answer an incoming VRS call. As of July 1, 2006, VRS providers must answer 80% of calls within two and a half minutes. Starting on January 1, 2007 VRS providers must answer 80% of calls within two minutes.
  • As of January 1, 2006, all VRS providers are required to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Reimbursement of VRS Video Mail. If a Hearing person called a Sign Language user, but there was no answer, the VI signs a message and deliver it to the Sign Language user's e-mail, similar to an answering machine. Previously this service was not reimbursed and the cost was absorbed by the VRS provider.
  • All VRS providers must not “call back” when a customer hangs up before a VRS call is placed.
  • VRS providers must only process calls that either originate or terminate in the US or its territories. For example, a person in Canada may use a VRS service in the United States to call a person in the United States, but not another person in Canada.
Sorenson Video Relay Service

The Sorenson Video Relay Service is a free service for the Deaf and hard of hearing community that enables anyone to conduct video relay calls with family, friends, or business associates through a certified ASL interpreter.

CSD Relay Service

The mission of Communication Services for the Deaf is to provide greater opportunities for access, independence, and awareness for all individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing. Through global leadership and a continuum of quality communication services and human service programs, CSD provides the tools conducive to a positive and fully integrated life.

Sprint VRS

Sprint Video Relay Service (VRS) enables users who use sign language to communicate via videoconferencing with a remote Video Interpreter, who then relays the signed communication over the phone – in real time- to the hearing party. By using sign language over the full motion video, this allows the sign language user to fully express in their natural language and convey facial expression and cues to ensure nothing gets lost in the translation. With Video Relay Service, there's no typing, no extended delay, and no "GA"s — just hassle-free, and faster communication that flows as freely as natural conversation.

Federal VRS

This VRS service is only for federal employees. Federal Relay was established under Public Law 100-542, the Telecommunications Accessibility Act of 1988. Federal Relay is a Federal Government service, which utilizes the FTS2001 network in order to allow Federal employees who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf/blind and or have speech disabilities equal communication access. Federal Relay broadens employment and advancement opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Hands On VRS

Hands On Video Relay Services, Inc. (HOVRS) provides a new communication tool that allows the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community to communicate effectively and naturally with the hearing world through American Sign Language (ASL). HOVRS uses the Internet to provide an audio/video link to a qualified, certified Video Interpreter (VI) who interprets between the visual language of ASL and the auditory language of a hearing person.

Hamilton VRS

HIP VRS is a free service allowing D/deaf, hard of hearing and people with speech disabilities, who also use American Sign Language (ASL) or a manual form of English (PSE or MCE), to make use of video equipment, high speed internet access and interpreters to communicate with standard telephone users.

Traditional/Text Relay Service (TRS) is for anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, or speech disabled who uses a TTY to communicate. Each message is relayed (typed/spoken) by a Communications Assistant (CA), word for word, to the hearing person on the other end of the line. Then the CA types what the hearing person has said back to the TTY user. Each conversation is handled with the strictest confidentiality. There is no charge to access relay services. Relay services may also be provided through an internet connection (IP) rather than a TTY. There are no long distance charges when using IP relay.