Frequently Asked Questions

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Q1. What is a TTY?

A1. A TTY is a special device that enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled to use the telephone to communicate, by typing messages back and forth to one another instead of talking back and forth. A TTY is required at both ends of the conversation in order to communicate.

Q2. How do I use a TTY?

A2. To use a TTY, you set a telephone handset onto special acoustic cups built in the TTY. Then, type the message you want to send on the TTY's keyboard. As you type, the message is sent over the phone line, just like your voice would be sent over the phone line if you talked. The other person types a response on their TTY keyboard, which you read on your TTY's text display screen.

Q3. What does "TTY" stand for?

A3. TTY is an acronym that stands for "Text Telephone". The "Y" is thrown in as a historical reference to the first text telephones ever: large, old "Teletypewriters" which were known as TTYs.

Q4. What is the difference between a TTY and a TDD?

A4. There is no difference between a TTY and a TDD, both terms refer to a Text Telephone. TTY is short for "Text Telephone". TDD is short for "Telecommunications Device for the Deaf". TTY is the more appropriate term, however, as text telephones are used by many people, not just by those who are deaf. You may see each term used interchangeably.

Q5. How do I call a TTY user if I don't have a TTY myself?

A5. People or business that do not have a TTY can still communicate with a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired over the phone by using a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). With TRS, a special operator types whatever is said so that the TTY user can read the words on his or her TTY display. He or she will type back a response, which the TRS operator reads aloud for the other person to hear over the phone. Toll free TRS services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Q6. What is the difference between "Acoustic" and "Direct Connect?"

A6. TTYs are traditionally used in one of two ways: either by placing a telephone handset into the TTY's acoustic couplers (known as "Acoustic" use) or by directly connecting the TTY to a telephone line (known as "Direct Connect" use). Each method has advantages. In noisy environments, Direct Connect eliminates distracting outside noises and allows the TTY to visually notify you of incoming calls (with a ring flasher or indication on the text display). It also allows for auto-answer and keyboard dialing capabilities. Acoustic Use is convenient when and extra telephone jack is not handy or in environments which do not support an analog phone connection.