But for those with hearing impairments and/or communications disorders, there’s very little simple about a phone call.
Following the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, however, things began to progress to making those phone calls easier.
In Louisiana, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) accepted the responsibility of developing and reviewing options to effect compliance with the telecommunications provisions of the ADA, particularly the requirements as to the provision of intrastate Telecomunications Relay Services (TRS).
Thus enters Louisiana Relay Services which, through Hamilton Relay, provides not only the traditional TRS, but internet relay services and CapTel services, and Henry Brinkman, Louisiana outreach coordinator with Hamilton Relay, discussed Tuesday to the Rotary Club of Crowley the services Hamilton Relay provides to the state and its hearing impaired citizens.
Through his interpreter, Brinkman, who is also deaf, showed how useful the tools of Relay have become and showed how much the service has grown over the past two decades.
According to Brinkman, many hearing impaired people in Louisiana are using the CapTel services and/or devices, which are provided to Louisiana residents free of charge thanks to funding through the ADA.
CapTel, as he explained, greatly benefits people who have understandable speech and some degree of hearing loss.
The CapTel phones make this possible by not only working as a phone, but displaying text on top from the other person in real time, letting the person with hearing issues respond normally.
The captioned phones also provide users the freedom of using their own voice during conversations, which is important to a lot of users as Brinkman pointed out.
CapTel has become especially helpful to those with hearing loss and find it difficult to understand telephone conversations, use hearing aids or other assistive devices and those who are deaf or hard of hearing but have understandable speech.
The simple point, as Brinkman pointed out, is that it is a free, nationwide service that ensures the user clarity and confidence in their calls, an important tool in the ever-mobile society of today.
CapTel is also keeping up with technology as it is available for PC/Mac, smartphones and tablets.
Hamilton CapTel for the computer requires only the computer, a high-speed internet connection and any phone.
The smartphone app is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices and the tablet app is available for Android tablets and the iPad.
The trifecta of services provided–TRS, internet and CapTel–also makes sure that it is not just hearing impaired citizens that can make calls, but those who are deaf can use Louisiana Relay’s video call services and so forth.
Nationwide, Relay services have been growing at a quick pace, according to Brinkman, since 1993. Locally, Louisiana Relay’s services have grown since 1997.
As he explained to the Rotarians Tuesday, even though most had never received a call using Louisiana Relay, that will probably change in the future as its services continue to grow.
For more information about Hamilton Relay or Louisiana Relay, visit www.hamiltonrelay.com or www.la-relay.com.