TTY stands for Text Telephone and is a specially designed phone for hard of hearing. Instead of listening and talking into a phone, a TTY allows the user to receive and send text messages. TTY technology allows the deaf and hard of hearing to make calls to people both with and without a TTY device of their own. So how does this amazing technology work, who might it help, and what kinds of TTY devices are available? In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about this amazing technology.
The History of TTY: a phone for hard of hearing
The TTY was invented by a deaf scientist named Robert Weitbrecht in the early 60s. By using an acoustic coupler, he was able to send text over telephone lines. This unit was very large and bulky, and so the TTY didn’t catch on until technology developed and matured. Today, TTY devices are built into certain phones, and you don’t require a separate large unit. An argument is made that because of the mass popularity of texting and messaging over the internet, the TTY is no longer the preferred phone for hard of hearing. This, of course, doesn’t make sense when considering the many instances where one cannot text. It is also important to note that TTYs rely on the telecommunications grid and not the electrical grid. So in case of an emergency, one can still rely on the TTY to send and receive text calls.
How Does a TTY work as a phone for hard of hearing?
In order to use a TTY to make a call, both ends of the line require a TTY. If the other line does not have a TTY, the person making the call through a TTY should call the National Relay Service. The other person can also call the Relay Service if they are trying to contact someone who uses a TTY. The Relay Service is a free, 24/7, and year-round service for the hard of hearing and deaf. An operator will receive the messages on the TTY and relay them by standard phone to the person who does not have a TTY.
The FCC in America requires all cell phone and service providers to be compatible with TTY, so on top of using the TTY for landline, it can be used with your cell. While early TTY models were bulky typewriter-like machines, modern TTY devices come in portable models. These devices run on rechargeable batteries and can fit into the palm of the hand.
Is a TTY useful as a phone for hard of hearing?
The TTY device was invented and designed for the deaf and hard of hearing. While it is easy for many to think that the TTY is obsolete with the rise of internet messaging and text messaging, it is simply not true. Many who suffer from hard hearing and deafness are the elderly who have been using TTY for decades and are comfortable and used to it. Using a TTY is more intuitive for these individuals than using a complicated cell phone or computer to send a message. Younger generations can also benefit greatly from using a TTY to make calls to places that they cannot simply text or message. The TTY device makes the world of calling accessible to all, especially with relay services.
How is a TTY Call Different From Regular Text Messaging?
The functions of a TTY phone for hard of hearing are a lot more seamless than that of a text messaging app. When text messaging, you wait for notifications and updates from the other side. When making a call with a TTY device, the messages appear on the TTY screen immediately without delay. It allows for unbroken, natural conversation. Furthermore, when text messaging, you are limited in who you can contact. You cannot text certain businesses or government services. With the use of the National Relay Service, a TTY call can be made to any phone number.
Other Devices for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing
There is a wide range of other devices that exist to aid those who are hard of hearing or deaf. Phone amplifiers are devices that connect to landline phones to make sound louder and clearer. They block out feedback and background noise and amplify sound frequencies to make words more clearly. There are many different types of amplifiers, ranging from those that connect directly into a landline phone between the headset and the base, and inductive couplers that interact with suitable hearing aids.
In conclusion, a TTY is a revolutionary device that exists to make phone calls accessible to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. A TTY device does not rely on the electrical grid and is essential for emergencies when contact can only be made through the telecommunication grid. When one person on a call is using a TTY, the other does not require a TTY thanks to the National Relay Service. Many different varieties of TTY devices exist, ranging in portability and functionality. For others, accessibility devices such as phone amplifiers are more useful for landlines and cell-phone calls. The many options that are out there for the deaf and hard of hearing can make it daunting, but if you come into our Colorado Springs hearing aids store for a consultation, we can discuss what options will work best for you or a loved one.