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MedEd Connections Resource Guide: Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH)

How Will My Child Communicate with Others on the Phone?

People who have hearing aids or implants can still use a cell phone. Some hearing aids are designed to have a telecoil setting. If you are considering buying a cell phone for your child wearing hearing assistive technology (HAT), you may want to review American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) list of considerations for cell phones appropriate for hard of hearing users.

Cell phones can also be connected to some hearing aids via Bluetooth streamer. Newer hearing aids are able to be connected directly to cell phones via Bluetooth without a streamer. Ask your audiologist for further information as technology is constantly changing.

There are several methods of long-distance communication for those who are D/HH, including video relay services and telecommunication options.

Video Relay Services (VRS)

People who use sign language can use video phone equipment to communicate visually with other sign language users or people who can hear. Video phone technology could include specialized equipment or the video features on a computer or mobile device, such as Facetime. The person calling through VRS can communicate with people who are D/HH and hearing by watching an interpreter on the screen. The interpreter uses sign language and speech to relay conversation between two parties.

The VRS caller may sign or use their voice. All VRS interpreters are required to keep conversations confidential.

Detailed information about video relay services may be found on the website of the National Association for the Deaf.

Purple Communications
Purple Communications is a national provider of relay services from a mobile device, computer, or video phone. They also provide onsite interpreting and CART services.

Sorenson is a national organization which provides VRS for people who are D/HH wanting to communicate with English or Spanish speakers. The service can be accessed through a mobile device or computer screen.

These are only two VRS providers. The Outreach Center at OCALI, Deaf Community/Service Centers in Ohio, and interpreters can provide more VRS options.

Telecommunication Relay Services (TRS)
Ohio Relay Services is a free public service for communication between standard voice users, people who are D/HH, deafblind, or speech disabled using text telephones or adaptive telephone equipment. This includes hearing carry over (HCO), voice carry over (VCO), captel, telebraille, and speech to speech. This service typically involves a third party person typing out what is said in spoken English so that the spoken words can be read through adaptive phone equipment.