If you don't have access to internet services or smartphones...
There are many available technologies for children who have difficulty with discrimination of speech on the telephone. This difficulty is compounded by the poor voice quality of many users of cell phones and speakerphones. A technology that provides assistance by converting speech to sign/text is the nationwide relay system. It is a 24/7 free service in all states for domestic calls. Long distance calls are charged normally. The essential feature of the relay system is that the child with a hearing loss views a screen on which spoken text is signed/typed. The calls are treated as confidential by the communication assistant (CA).
The relay system works in several modes that all start by contacting a CA employed by one of the services systems operated by the major telecommunication land line carriers. The contact may initially be made by telephone through a free 800 or 7-1-1; or be made by computer through the internet or by a computer or PDA. The basic relay modes are:
Video Relay Services (VRS) – This enables individuals who use sign language to make relay calls through the use of CAs who can interpret their calls. The caller signs to the CA with the use of video equipment and the CA voices what is signed to the called party and then signs back to the caller. This type of relay service is not required by the FCC, but is offered on a voluntary basis by certain programs. This option is helpful for people who use American Sign Language (ASL) and for people who cannot type on the TTY easily, such as children who are ASL users.
Voice Carry Over (VCO) – The CA places the call to the hearing person and then transcribes what was being said onto a screen viewed by the child with a hearing loss. If both parties have a hearing loss, the CA could transcribe both ends of the conversation. The disadvantage of this system is that the other caller knows that a CA is involved.
Two Line VCO (2LVCO) – 2LVCO is initiated as described above and again the CA transcribes what is being said to the child with a hearing loss. However, in this mode, the child speaks normally into a standard telephone and his or her speech is not transcribed to the other person, i.e., the recording is one-way to the child. In this mode, the other person does not even have to know that the CA is typing on a screen being viewed by the child. In both cases the speaker needs no special equipment. However, the child needs access to the Internet and a separate phone for the voice connection. If access to the Internet is over a phone line using dial-up or DSL, a separate phone line would be needed for the data connection.
There are several ways that the transcription viewing can occur. The call to the CA can be initiated on any computer connected to the Internet or through the use of “terminal mode” on any computer. It can also be accessed on hand-held Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) using proprietary devices with the “chat” (SMS) feature available on PDAs that have Internet access to the Website of the relay provider. The older technology, still in use, although declining, is called TTY/TTD. These devices have a one or two-line display that is inferior to the capabilities of a computer or PDA screen.
CapTel – A CapTel user dials the phone number of the person they wish to call using their CapTel phone. The CapTel phone automatically routes their call through the CapTel call center and connects them to their called party. At the call center, a specially-trained operator (a captionist) uses a customized voice-recognition computer and re-voices whatever is said by the called party. The technology transcribes the operator’s voice into captions that appear on the CapTel screen. The user may also hear the other party’s voice to the best of their ability. The CapTel operator does not hear and does not caption what the CapTel user says.
Hearing Carry Over (HCO) – Hearing Carry Over is designed for individuals with a speech disability that can hear on the telephone, but need to type their response on a TTY instead of speaking. The HCO user types their conversation for the CA to read and voice to the standard telephone user. When the standard telephone user speaks back, the HCO user will hear the response. Call your relay service provider for more detailed information.
Speech to Speech (STS) – All states offer STS, which enables individuals with speech disabilities to communicate by voice through a CA rather than by typing on a TTY. Individuals call a patient, trained CA who is familiar with many speech patterns and has excellent language recognition skills. The CA makes telephone calls for the individual and repeats what is said. Call your relay service provider for more detailed information.
Spanish Relay Services – While Spanish relay is not required for calls between states, many states with large Spanish speaking populations already offer this service on a voluntary basis.
Rear Window Captions – A type of captioning system used in public places, such as theaters, has the advantage of allowing those who desire captions to view them but does not require that all members of the audience view the captions. This rear window captioning system displays reverse captions on a light emitting diode (LED), which is mounted in the rear of the theater. Patrons desiring captions use transparent acrylic panels attached to their seats to reflect the captions so that they appear superimposed on or beneath the screen. The reflective panels are portable and adjust, enabling the caption user to sit anywhere in the room.