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Video Relay Services (3)

Article series: Video Relay Services 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

By Amanda Koski

Relay Services

The Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) or Telephone to Telephone Typewriter (TTY), the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) and the Video Relay Service (VRS) are all helpful tools often used by d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals. The TDD/TTY is an electronic device that allows d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals to make phone calls just like a hearing person would. The TRS is a free and available service open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to handle voice-to-TTY and TTY-to-voice calls (Dannenfeldt). VRS is a type of TRS and enables persons with hearing disabilities who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text (

            The TDD/TTY was invented in 1964 by Robert Weitbrecht a d/Deaf scientist. The early TDD/TTY's were large and cumbersome and were not portable by any means. By 1967, only 25 TTY stations were available, but by 1969 that number had increased to 600 (Dannenfeldt). A TDD/TTY works with the user terminal with keyboard input and printer or display output used by the d/Deaf or hard of hearing individual. The device contains a modem and is used over a standard analog phone line (Computer). The TDD/TTY was a huge advancement for d/Deaf individuals, it gave them the freedom to make phone calls and to communicate with people like the never had before.

            Just like the TDD/TTY's TRS and VRS help d/Deaf individuals around the word communicate. There are many advantages to TRS/VRS that can not be offered through TDD/TTYs. One of those advantages is that because a TDD/TTY is text you can not see facial expressions and body language which is a huge part of ASL (Federal). Another advantage to TRS and VRS is that a TRS/VRS conversation flows back and forth just like a telephone conversation between two hearing persons. For example, the parties can interrupt each other, which they cannot do with a TRS call using a TTY (Federal). Another huge part of d/Deaf communication is through Texting. Texting has given d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals the opportunities to instantly communicate with anyone were as before this would have been impossible.

            Since the creation of VRS or Video Relay Service the door of easier communication has been opened for the d/Deaf or hard of hearing community. VRS is a service that can be offered in many different ways. The first way is through the use of a webcam and a program called Skype. Skype is an internet calling program that offers free Skype to Skype/computer to computer video/instant messaging/voice calling/video calling. VIBALE is another company that offers a wide range of communication styles. One of the available communication styles is through a computer and a webcam just like Skype, but it there is the option to call land lines and have an interpreter available to interpret if you wan tot call a place were there is hearing people. There is also their newest product called VPAD+ that is like a cell phone for the d/Deaf. It is a small portable device whose purpose is video calling. It is a wonderful device/service that has opened doors for d/Deaf individuals (Viable).

            TTY/TDD, and TRS/VRS have come a long way since TTY's first became available on the market. TTY/TDD first started out in 1964 large and cumbersome making communication difficult for d/Deaf or hard of hearing individuals. Since then communication for d/Deaf individuals has become easier with the invention of the VPAD+ and texting. Finding out what new inventions will make communicating easier for d/Deaf and hard of hearing individuals will be exciting to see.

Works Cited

Computer Language Company Inc., The TDD/TTY. 12 May, 2009 <,2542,t=TDDTTY&i=52627,00.asp>

Dannenfeldt, Diane.  "How Hearing Impaired Telephones Work."  13 June 2008. <>  11 May 2009. 

Federal Communications Commission. Video Relay Services. 12 May 2009. <>

Viable. Products. 12 May 2009. <>


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