POV on Deaf Technology-Technological Advances in Telecommunications

An Outsider's POV

Not being a member of the deaf community puts me at a disadvantage for really understanding what is out there to help with communication. Being born in the age of technological advances, we are making leaps and bounds in the direction for making life a little easier for us all. Video Conference calls can now be made on a cell phone! But where does all this technology fit in with the deaf community?


TTY or Text telephone, also referred to as Telecommunication Device for the Deaf. It is a device used by the hearing or speech impaired. It attaches to most phones where conversation can be typed back and forth. Seems pretty simple right? If two people have one they can type back and forth to each other. If only one person has one then an interpreter is provided to respond back to the person not using the device.

TTY of TDD info is available all over the web for people who are wanting information or to research and use. But It can get confusing or hard to understand. There is so much information about codes and usage, and how it works it can make a persons head spin! How can this device be improved upon? What are its uses in the working world today?

Picture Courtesy of the ADA
Picture Courtesy of the ADA

Technological Advances

The TTY device is similar in appearance to a small typewriter. How can this be made better? Texting on cellphones has become a major source of communication for the hard of hearing that are on-the-go. It's quick , easy, and they have the option of talking to anyone they need at the time. But what about if you are a business owner? Especially one where communication with a client is important?


VRS or Video Relay Service is a new advance in Telecommunications for the hearing impaired. Also known as Video Interpreting Service it is similar to TTY without the delay or typing. VRS has been available to most of the world since the first decade of the 2000's but in Sweden as early as 1997. It is still not available everywhere due to lack of financing on a large scale .

One of the leaders in the VRS market is Sorenson. They provide the deaf and hard of hearing community with the ability to communicate with family, friends, and business contacts using VRS. They provide you with a 24-hour with a professional American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter through a videophone and a high-speed internet connection. Other companies that provide this service is Birnbaum, as well as Verizon to name a few. Most, if not all, of these VRS operators are a 24-hour service and some can be accessed through your webcam on your computer.

Companies like Sorenson, when you use their service, allow you to have a 10-digit phone number that is local to your area and give your callers the ability to have the security of knowing you are in their area. All while using the all important VRS services so you can communicate with anyone.

Common symbol where VRS or VRI is available.
Common symbol where VRS or VRI is available.

iPhone allows On-The-Go Video Communications

So What Now?

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired have adapted with the ages. We have gone from nothing to TTY to texting on cell phones to video chatting, and video relaying services that provide you with an interpreter, so anyone with a hearing disability can now communicate with anyone all over the world any time of day. I'm sure that soon enough the world of telecommunications will evolve into something amazing and no one will be left out. Until then we can thank developers like the creator of the iPhone 4 for giving us the ability for video chatting on the go, or VRS for the ability to communicate with important people in your life face to face. Sometimes it's the little things in life that make a big difference.

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Comments 9 comments

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MarianG 6 years ago

You've provided a great deal of wonderful information here!

What's News profile image

What's News 6 years ago

Great information. They have made some great advancments in the technologies for the deaf community. It helps better meet the needs they may have. It will be fun to see what they decide to do in the decades ahead. I voted this hub up.

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SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio Author

Thank you so much! This was truly a learning experience for me. I went into this with no knowledge whatsoever. My friend, who is deaf, really pushed for me to do this for her and how could I say no to that? haha. I really appreciate you taking your time to stop by and read this. I thank you both, so very much.

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bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

You did a great job with this hub.My deaf sister used to use a TTY.We thought it was just awesome technology back in the 90s! Now, most of the time she just uses her blackberry or email.Only occasionally if she needs immediate feedback and wants to respond conversationally does she use video relay.It still feels weird when the relayer laughs out loud if she sees my sister laugh...This is how it happens...

"Ha,ha,ha...yes.you're right,....grin...okay..ha!Ha!...Bye and I'll be in touch..blows kiss.. relay over.."

SognoPiccolo profile image

SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio Author

wow that is really neat and interesting! My friend said TTY was just too bulky and huge for her to want to even bother with and has just kind of stuck with alternate choices and a friend of hers asked is she has ever used VRS and she had no idea what it was, she has just used a cell phone as long as she has had one and really wanted me to find more information on it for her. I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub. I really was researching it as I wrote it and I am surprised that it came out as good as it did lol.

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freehans 6 years ago from Philippines

I find this hub very useful. Thanks

SognoPiccolo profile image

SognoPiccolo 6 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio Author

you are very welcome! and thank you for stopping by to read! =)

Ronnie Neal 5 years ago

That was a very concise description. Hearing Impairment is sometimes a scary experience as so many of our aging parents and grandparents live with some level of hearing loss annually. Thanks for providing this great information.

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SognoPiccolo 5 years ago from Wilmington, Ohio Author

Thank you for your comment! Problems with hearing loss as we age hopefully will be a thing of the past. The technology out there gets better and better every day and it makes communicating so much easier. Thank you so much for stopping by to read. =)

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