Telecommunication Relay Services-Washington Relay
Telecommunication Relay Services in Washington State is also known as Washington Relay which is a free service provided by the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) ensuring equal communication access to the telephone service for people who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech disabled. This service allows hearing callers to communicate with deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and speech disabled relay users and vice versa through specially trained relay operators.
Calls can be made to anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no restrictions on the number, length, or type of calls. All calls are strictly confidential and no records of any conversations are maintained.
How does Washington Relay work?
Anyone wishing to use Washington Relay simply dials 711 to connect with a relay operator. The relay operator will dial the requested number and relay the conversation between the two callers. Either a person with a hearing loss or speech disability with specialized telecommunication equipment or a person using a standard phone may initiate a call through Washington Relay by dialing the relay number 711 or the designated 10 digit number. After dialing Washington Relay, the person initiating the call gives the desired phone number to the Washington Relay Operator, who then dials that number using another phone line. The Washington Relay Operator types the standard phone user's spoken words to the person using a specialized telecommunication equipment and voices the specialized telecommunication equipment user's text messages.
Types of Relay services offered:
- A Captioned Telephone works like any other telephone and in addition: it displays every word the other party says throughout the conversation. CTS customers place a call in the same way they would when using a traditional phone. The captioned telephone device automatically connects to a contracted CTS provider as you dial. When the person you are calling answers, you will hear everything that he/she says, just like during a traditional phone call. You also will see and read everything that he/she says on the display screen of those few caption telephone devices that connect with CTS. There is no customer charge for using CTS itself regardless of which state the person lives in. However, CTS customers are responsible for their own in-state and out-of-state long distance calls.
Standard (voice) telephone users can easily initiate calls to communicate with deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and speech-disabled relay users. The relay operator types the standard telephone user's spoken words to the person using specialized telecommunication equipment and voices the relay user's text messages.
Hearing Carry Over (HCO) allows speech disabled users with hearing capabilities to listen to the person they are calling. The HCO user types his/her conversation for the relay operator to read to the standard (voice) telephone user.
Speech-to-speech services Trained relay operators serve as the speech disabled user's voice and repeat his/her responses to the called party. Washington Relay's equipment and STS relay operator training ensure that speech disabled users will be heard and understood. There may be instances where an STS user will be asked to repeat his/her message to ensure that it is relayed correctly. For more information about speech-to-speech services:
- Deaf-blind relay users often use special TTY's equipped with telebraille or large visual displays and prefer slower typing speeds to read messages. Washington Relay has a toll-free number that provides customized relay service. During these relay calls, the relay operator will type at a normal speed, but the message will come across at a rate of 15 words per minute, allowing users to achieve a more readable rhythm. Users can also request increased or decreased rates of text in increments of 5 words per minute.
Text Teletype (TTY) A person who is deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, or speech impaired uses a TTY to type his/her conversation to a relay operator, who then reads the typed conversation to a standard telephone user. The relay operator relays the hearing person's spoken words by typing them back to the TTY user.
Voice Carry-Over (VCO) allows deaf or hard of hearing users to speak directly to hearing people. When a standard telephone user speaks to you, a relay operator serves as your "ears" and types everything said to your TTY or VCO phone.VCO to TTY: The relay operator types what the VCO user says to the TTY user. Whatever the TTY user types goes directly to the VCO user's TTY or text display equipment to be read.
Video Relay Service (VRS),This service provides American Sign Language (ASL) users with an attractive alternative that offers them the opportunity to communicate by video conferencing, using their native language, which may be preferred over the traditional telecommunication relay service. nternet protocol (IP) based relay service is available from several IP Relay providers using your computer or mobile device connected to the internet to access IP Relay services. Some IP Relay services are also available on AOL Instant Messaging (AIM).
Don't Hang Up
Washington Relay is designed to connect deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech disabled people with people and businesses that use standard (voice) telephones. Although the relay service has been in existence for more than 18 years, many people don't understand how it works. As a result, people who receive relay calls often hang up, believing the caller is a telemarketer. Thus the Don't Hang Up campaign was developed.
The goal of the Don't Hang Up campaign is to decrease the frequency of hang ups by people who are unfamiliar with relay. The campaign includes a public service announcement, as well as articles in business publications.
When you experience a hang up on a relay call, please contact Washington Relay at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact the business to educate them about relay services.
Consider changing the way you have your relay calls announced so instead of saying, "This is the Washington Relay Service...." you ask the relay operator to begin "This is a customer of your business calling through the Washington Relay," or "This is [your name] calling through Washington Relay." Some people have found that this kind of greeting reduces hang ups. Another option would be to ask the relay operator not to announce relay, and give the relay operator instructions as of how you'd like the call to be announced, such as "Hello, this is [your name]," however it becomes your responsibility to educate the person that you're using the relay service (as the relay operator automatically becomes the third party after you take over).