Facts About Utah’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- There are more than 250,000 deaf and hard of hearing Utahns
- Relay Utah fields 30,000-35,000 calls per month
- The Relay Service is available for both English and Spanish languages
- American Sign Language is the first language of the deaf. English is the second.
- The Relay Service can be used to make calls both within the United States and internationally
- New advances in technology have produced video relay, and internet protocol services which are now available in Utah
The Relay Utah service was initiated in 1988 as one of the first Relay services established in the United States. Housed under the umbrella of the Public Service Commission, Relay Utah provides access to hearing assistive equipment and telephone relay services through Hamilton Relay to allow Utah citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled more efficient communication.
More than 100,000 Utahns are either deaf or hard of hearing. Relay Utah strives to make it possible for these individuals and those who have difficulty with speech to independently communicate with each other and with the hearing community. Over 35,000 calls are made through Relay Utah every month.
7-1-1 is Utah’s toll-free telephone number that connects voice telephone users with deaf, hard of hearing or speech-disabled individuals who use text telephones, or TTYs. Relay users can use this free service by dialing 7-1-1 to reach a Relay Communications Assistant (CA), who will connect the two parties and “relay” communication between the individual calling and the individual called.
Individuals who use text telephones and desire to communicate in Spanish can dial Relay Utah and inform the CA of their preferred message translation. The CA will relay the conversation in the preferred translation, including Spanish-to-Spanish, Spanish-to-English or English-to-Spanish.
Products for the Hearing Impaired:
Hearing Carry-Over (HCO)/
The Hearing Carry-Over (HCO), Voice Carry-Over (VCO) is a specific combination of telephone for households that have people who are both hard of hearing and those who experience no hearing loss. With VCO, someone who is hard of hearing can speak directly to the other person and read their responses on the text display.
For individuals who can hear but who are speech disabled, they can use HCO and type their messages into the text device, which are relayed by a CA to the other party. The HCO user can then hear the other person’s responses. If the other person is also using HCO, the caller can dial Relay Utah and have a CA voice his or her responses.
The CapTel is a telecommunications device that is ideal for individuals who experience some degree of hearing loss but still prefer to have a standard telephone conversation.
The CapTel includes a text display where the user has the option to read a captioned version of the conversation. With CapTel’s voice-recognition capability, captions appear in real-time as words are spoken. The CapTel includes an amplified handset and tone control to maximize clarity.
Products for the Deaf and Those with Speech Difficulty:
Text telephones, or TTYs as they are commonly referred to, are one of the more popular telecommunications devices on the market.
If a hearing person desires to communicate with someone who does not hear, the person who hears can dial 7-1-1 and reach a CA, who then relays the information given back and forth between each party.
Video Relay Service (VRS)
Video Relay Service, or VRS, is one of the newest tools available to enhance communication between American Sign Language (ASL) and voice telephone users. Utahans have a choice between two companies that provide VRS services, Sprint and Sorenson Media. Both companies use a high-speed Internet connection, an Internet camera, and a sign language interpreter to translate the message. The interpreter voices what the individual is signing to the other party. Information on Sprint’s VRS can be found at www.utvrs.com, and information on Sorenson Media’s VRS at www.sorensonvrs.com.
With VRS, visual communication accompanies the voice communication, so both parties enjoy full interaction as emotions and facial expressions are conveyed.
Individuals who qualify for Public Assistance and who meet specified guidelines are eligible for Relay equipment. For guidelines, visit www.connectutah.com or www.relayutah.gov. Others looking to purchase Relay equipment can contact the Utah Deaf Center. All workers at the UAD bookstore are deaf. Callers can dial 7-1-1 and then the number 801-288-2159.
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How Does Relay Utah Work?
1. Dial, toll free, either 7-1-1 or the Spanish Relay number 1-888-346-3162 to be connected to a Relay operator who will connect the hearing caller to someone using a text telephone (TTY) or Voice Carry Over (VCO) phone or help a hard or hearing or speech-impaired caller connect to a hearing person using a standard telephone.
2. The operator will "relay" the conversation back and forth between the party with hearing or speech difficulty and the hearing party to facilitate the call. A TTY user will type a message that will be read by the Relay operator to the hearing person who will in turn voice a response that the Relay operator will translate into a typed message to the person using a TTY. There is no time limit on the calls.
About Relay Utah
Utah was one of the first states to establish a relay service, Relay Utah was made available on Jan. 4, 1998. Relay Utah is housed under the umbrella of the Public Service Commission and provides access to hearing assistive equipment and telephone relay services to connect standard telephones to text telephones used by Utah citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech disabled. www.relayutah.gov.