Saturday, January 21, 2006

TTY Lesson

I had an unfortunate experience with a TTY call on Friday and it was mostly due to the person I was calling being unfamiliar with the a Relay assisted call, so if you will bear with me I would like to explain how it works!

Because I can't hear on the phone anymore (although hopefully that will change soon), I have to use my TTY and a service called Relay to make my phone calls. I am going to assume that no one knows what these things are so that I can educate a few people. A TTY is like a small typewriter that hooks to my phone line and instead of talking, I type into it. Relay is a service provided by most ( if not all) states and is for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or verbally impaired.

When I want to make a call, I turn on the TTY and type in a phone number for Relay Texas. An agent at Relay Texas answers the phone and asks me for the phone number I wish to call. The agent then dials the number and when a person answers the agent tells them, "you are recieving a relay call, have you ever recieved a relay call before?" If you tell them "No" then they will explain the service to you. You speak to the operator who types in your words, verbatim ( as well as anything else they hear in the background) and then the operator reads the TTY users response back to the hearing person recieving the call.

If you recieve a relay call, the correct way to respond is to simply ignore the agent/operator and just speak to the person. In other words, you should say "hello, how is it going?" not "tell her that I said hello, how is it going?" There are only a couple of things that you really need to do differently than a regular phone call, one is at the end of your phrase or question, when you are ready for the TTY user to respond, you should say "go ahead" and the operator will type in "GA" which tells me/TTY user that you are finished with whatever you were saying and I can respond. At the end of the phone call, you would say "bye bye go ahead or sign off" and that way I know the conversation is over on your part. I would reply "Bye SK" or if I had something else to say or ask could do so before signing off (SK)

This service is a real lifesaver for me and it gives me a lot more independence than I would have if I had to rely on others to make all my calls. I still rely on my husband quite a bit just because people sometimes freak out when they get a TTY call. The agents at relay are all bound by a confidentiality clause so it is no big deal that they are listening to your call. I would imagine most of them are not really paying that much attention to what is being said but rather making sure they type it correctly. I am reading this to my husband to get the hearing persons opinion and he said to share with you that if you are going to be saying a long phrase then you might want to pause just a second to let the agent catch up. Like anything else some agents are more experienced than others and some type better and faster than others. He also said to let you know that the TTY users phone number will show up if you have caller id so you will know who you are talking to.

Some people are just really uncomfortable using Relay, even my Mom does not like it, preferring that I send her e-mails. So sometimes I call her with relay to tell her to send me an email or to check her email because I need a response. Most people are patient and willing to work with me on TTY and I really appreciate their patience. It makes up for those who are rude and impatient with me because a TTY call takes longer.

It is possible to call relay TX and ask them to call me. You would just call 1-800-relay-vv ( this number may only work if you live in TX) and give them my number and then the process would be the same as if I called you. However, because I have two hearing people in my house and no one ever calls me with a tty I do not answer the phone anyway ( I let the answering machine pick up or someone else answer it). The best way to reach me personally is to call and leave a message on my home phone or call my cell phone number and I will call you back at the number you called from. I need to have caller id put on my home phone so I know who calls but if you call the cell phone then I have the number to call you back.

Thanks for reading this long blog and hopefully it will make it easier for you if you should ever recieve a TTY call. Hope you are all having a lovely weekend and make some time tomorrow to worship the Lord who makes all thing possible! Blessings!


jettybetty said...

I've never received one of these calls, but now if I do--I will know what to do!! Thanks for going to the trouble to explain it all.

How is your hearing??? How are you feeling?

Speaking of travel--what did you all decide about Hawaii next month since you went ahead with your surgery?

Brett and Jenny Perkins said...

Thanks so much for the lesson MAK! It'll be interesting to see if Zachary needs one someday. It's hard to tell right now what assistive technology he will need. I've heard a lot of HOH/Deaf adults speak the praises of the Sidekick. Have you thought about using one of those? I don't know too much about them. Still learning so much about our boy's future, but I try not to think too far down the road.
Looking forward to more updates on the CI.

MAK said...

Jettybetty, I think the trip is on hold for awhile, the CI progress is much slower than we thought it would be. I am not understanding anything yet. Hubby has 40th birthday this summer so maybe we will wait and go then. My parents have 50th wedding anniversary coming up this spring so we really can't get away then. I hate to put it off but would rather enjoy it when I can hear.
Jenny, I am not sure when we are ever going to get together. I would love to talk to you about your son and help you understand what being HOH/Deaf is like. Maybe we could meet for lunch some day! I have looked into Sidekicks (last year) but were told they were not available in this area. My husband and I have had pretty good luck just using text messages on our cell phone.
Not much to tell on the CI progress still just hearing bells and whistle sounds. Just have to be patient I guess.

Brett and Jenny Perkins said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eric Livingston said...

Thanks for the education MAK. I received a relay call one time when I was in H.S. and worked at Pizza Hut. I didn't know what I was doing and it was so long ago, that I kind of forgot how it works. I appreciate your willingness to educate us.

Give us a call sometime!

Mark Lowenstein said...

VP (videophone) rules! TTY belongs in a museum. :)