Keeping Maryland Residents Connected
Imagine how different your life would be if you were unable to use a telephone to keep in touch with family or friends, make appointments, or conduct business. This is a challenge faced by millions of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 20% of adults in the United States live with some degree of difficulty hearing. For those over the age of 65, one out of every three people can benefit from Maryland Relay services.
Maryland Relay is a free public service that makes it possible for people who have difficulty hearing or speaking to place and receive telephone calls. Accessible anywhere in the state by dialing 7-1-1, Maryland Relay provides a wide array of services to meet the diverse needs of its users, including:
- Traditional Relay (TTY) for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking. Also known as a text telephone, a TTY has a keyboard, which allows the user to type his/her side of the conversation, and a text screen to read the other person’s responses.
- Hearing Carry-Over (HCO), Speech-to-Speech (STS), and Visually Assisted STS for those who can hear clearly, but have difficulty speaking or being understood over the telephone. With HCO, the user types his/her side of the conversation on a TTY or HCO phone. With STS, the user speaks with his/her own voice, and a Maryland Relay Operator revoices everything he/she says, as needed, to the other person. With Visually Assisted STS, Maryland Relay Operators are able to use both speech and visual cues to facilitate conversations for users via a live video connection.
- Voice Carry-Over (VCO) for Relay users who have difficulty hearing but prefer to use their own voice in phone conversations. VCO callers use a VCO phone or TTY to speak to the other person while a Maryland Relay Operator types the other person’s response.
- Captioned Telephone, which allows users who are hard-of-hearing to read captions of phone conversations while they listen to what the other person says.
- Remote Conference Captioning (RCC), which provides captions of what all participants are saying during conference calls.
- Braille TTY for Relay users who are DeafBlind. A Braille TTY includes a keyboard, which allows the user to type his/her side of the conversation, and a Braille display for reading the other person’s responses.
In addition to the services available through Maryland Relay, people in Maryland who have difficulty using a telephone may also qualify for assistive telecommunications equipment, provided by the State through the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program. Qualified MAT program applicants must meet specific financial requirements and will participate in a free evaluation to ensure they receive the best equipment for their individual needs.
If you, or a loved one, have difficulty hearing or speaking over the phone, there are services and equipment available to keep you connected. To learn more about Maryland Relay and the MAT program, please visit mdrelay.org.
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