At Virginia Relay, we strive to make telecommunications more accessible, not just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but for everyone who has difficulty making telephone calls. We also offer specialized Relay services – including Hearing Carry-Over and Speech-to-Speech – for individuals who have difficulty speaking on the phone.
Creed Leffler lives in Norfolk and works as a disability advocate. Creed’s speech is limited due to cerebral palsy, and he often uses Virginia Relay Speech-to-Speech (STS) service when he makes telephone calls. STS is specifically designed for people with mild to moderate speech difficulty who can hear clearly over the phone.
Creed finds STS most useful to him when he is sharing important information over the phone that he wants written down.
STS users have a number of options to customize their calls to their personal preference. They can choose to communicate with their own voice, voice synthesizer, voice enhancer or other assistive voice device. Users can also choose to have their voice muted to the other party (STS with Privacy), or request that the CA assist only when needed. Virginia Relay also offers STS for Spanish speakers, and Visually Assisted STS, which allows the CA to see the user through a Skype™ connection.
“We’re just normal people that need a little bit more help,” he says.
Skype™ is a trademark of Skype. Virginia Relay and Hamilton Relay are not affiliated, sponsored, authorized or otherwise associated with the Skype group of companies.
Designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and can speak for themselves, CapTel works like any other telephone – with one important difference. Using the latest in voice recognition software, the CapTel phone displays every word the other person says. So you can listen to what is being said while reading word-for-word captions of your conversation on the CapTel phone’s display screen.
Best of all, the captioned telephone service is free*!
CapTel phones are available in a variety of models to best meet your needs. All models feature a brightly-lit display screen for captions with adjustable font sizes and colors. All models also include indicator lights, speed dial, answering machine, and Caller ID.
Use this helpful guide to determine which CapTel phone is right for you:
Requires analog telephone service
|Choose the CapTel 840 if:
Connects to both your telephone service and Internet service
|Choose the CapTel 840i if:
Designed for people with low vision or who have difficulty reading standard-sized captions
|Choose the CapTel 880i if:
Designed for people who are comfortable with touch-screen technology
|Choose the CapTel 2400i if:
All CapTel phone models are available to Virginia residents for a special rate of just $75. No-cost and reduced-price CapTel phones are also available to those who qualify through the Technology Assistance Program (TAP), administered by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH).
For more information, or to obtain your CapTel phone, please call VDDHH at 1-800-552-7917 (V/TTY).
CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.
*Long distance charges may apply.
If you have difficulty hearing what’s said during conference calls, there is a new service available in Virginia to help you never miss a word of an important conversation again: Remote Conference Captioning (RCC).
RCC allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have a clearer understanding of conversations and participate in conference calls in a more effective manner. RCC delivers word-for-word captions over the Internet, using Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) service to convert speech to text as it is spoken.
To use RCC, you need access to a conference bridge to allow the certified captionist to listen to the audio portion of the call. You also need access to an Internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone in order to view the captions. You do not need to download any software, only click a link to view the captions in your web browser. Captions show up just seconds after someone has spoken, allowing for seamless conversations.
RCC is already getting great reviews from Virginia Relay users. Nancy Anderson, who works for the Training and Technical Assistance Center at George Mason University, is using RCC to improve her conference calls at work, and is thrilled with the results.
“As a hard of hearing business person, I have been wanting a free conference captioning service for years now,” she says. “I have used the Virginia Relay RCC service twice now and I love it! It was so easy to request it and then the relay operators did a wonderful job capturing everything people on my conference call were saying. I plan to use it again and again!”
Betti Thompson, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Center, agrees.
“My experience with RCC is incredible. It’s like having your own CART on the computer screen or tablet. It keeps up to speed and is very accurate. I’m very excited for the RCC feature and I can’t wait to use it again during my next conference call,” she says.
Available to Virginia residents who are deaf or hard of hearing, RCC is an optional relay service that is funded and provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s contracted service provider, Hamilton Relay, also provides RCC in one other of its contracted states, Montana. It is important to note that these services are to be used through a teleconference call and is not a replacement for remote CART.
To request RCC services for your next conference call, simply complete a RCC Scheduling Request Form at www.hamiltonrelay.com/rcc, or call Virginia RCC Customer Care at 1-877-339-2665 (Voice). Virginia Relay users are guaranteed access to RCC services if scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. RCC services can be scheduled within a two-hour notice for emergency situations but are not guaranteed.
Take advantage of Remote Conference Captioning for your next conference call. To learn more, please contact Virginia RCC Customer Care at 1-877-339-2665 (Voice) or email@example.com.
Virginia Relay and the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) are proud to announce a new partnership with the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Services at Longwood University in Farmville. Under the partnership, Longwood University is now an official outreach site for Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP), which provides no-cost adaptive telecommunication equipment to qualified applicants who are deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind or who have difficulty speaking.
As an outreach site, members of the local community are now able to visit Longwood University to apply for equipment through TAP. Applicants are also evaluated by graduate students of the university’s Communications Sciences and Disorders program to ensure they receive the technology that is best suited to meet their needs. Students are supervised by the university’s faculty and clinical supervisors, who are nationally-certified and Commonwealth of Virginia-licensed audiology professionals.
Since the program was first introduced last summer, more than 15 people have applied for and/or been evaluated for equipment at Longwood University. The school currently has 14 different pieces of telecommunications equipment on site for demonstration by both students and TAP applicants.
“This is the first time VDDHH has partnered with an audiology department within a state university to expand our TAP outreach efforts, and we are already thrilled with the results,” said Ron Lanier, VDDHH Director. “Now that the talented students and staff at Longwood University are part of our outreach team, we are better able to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in Farmville and the surrounding areas.”
“Because of this partnership, the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in this region will have access to the latest technologies so they can receive the best assistive equipment for them,” said Mani Aguilar, Au.D., CCC-A, Clinical Audiologist – Communications Sciences and Disorders; Speech, Language, and Hearing Services; Longwood University. “Working with VDDHH is also a boon for our Communications Sciences and Disorders students who will be familiar with the latest telecommunications technologies available for people who are unable to use a telephone.”
To learn more about TAP, please visit www.varelay.org. Residents of the Farmville area who would like assistance applying for equipment through TAP may contact Dr. Mani Aguilar at the Longwood Speech, Hearing, and Learning Services, 434-395-2341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late last year, Virginia Relay, VDDHH and Hamilton Relay welcomed Frazelle Hampton to our team as Virginia Relay CapTel outreach coordinator. Frazelle provides outreach support and education throughout Virginia to raise awareness of the benefits of CapTel for people who have difficulty hearing over the phone.
Frazelle has a diverse professional background that includes administrative, training and teaching roles. Prior to joining Virginia Relay, she was most recently a mortgage default foreclosure specialist for a major mortgage company.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the public and getting out into the community. I’ll enjoy providing information to help people better understand CapTel and Relay and how to use these services,” she says. “I am excited to join Hamilton Relay and Virginia Relay because they align with my belief that we are here to help serve our community.”
Frazelle is available to provide free exhibits and presentations about CapTel, Virginia Relay, and TAP. For more information, please visit www.varelay.org or contact Frazelle at 804-726-6615 or email@example.com.
*CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.
This week, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is the first state in the nation to functionally end veteran homelessness. This is a great accomplishment for our state. VDDHH, Virginia Relay, and Hamilton Relay share Governor’s McAuliffe’s commitment to supporting our local veterans.
Because we understand that the ability to use a telephone is instrumental to living independently at home, veterans living with a hearing or speech loss are automatically eligible to apply for no-cost telecommunications equipment through Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP).
Adaptive telecommunications equipment, including text telephones (TTY), captioned telephones (CapTel) and other devices are available to individuals who meet one of the following qualifications:
In addition, Virginia Relay’s contracted service provider, Hamilton Relay, offers the Heroes With Hearing Loss program to raise awareness and initiate meaningful dialog about shared hearing loss experiences among veterans, their families and friends.
Hearing loss is the number one service-related injury affecting veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Heroes With Hearing Loss works to connect these veterans with solutions to help manage the impact of hearing loss and communicate more effectively with family and friends. To learn more about Heroes With Hearing Loss, visit www.HeroesWithHearingLoss.org.
Together, we can ensure that Virginia’s veterans have the support and services they need to continue living in their homes.
Hamilton Relay, Inc. currently has a position open for “Virginia Captioned Telephone Outreach Coordinator” staffed in Richmond, Virginia.
Position summary: This full-time position is responsible for coordinating and implementing outreach activities designed to promote Captioned Telephone Service (CapTel®) for Virginia Captioned Telephone Service (VACTS). The position requires independent travel throughout the state of Virginia.
Preferred education, experience and skills:
Education and Experience:
Interested individuals may apply online at: www.workforhamilton.com or contact Amy Hall in Corporate Human Resource Department by September 11, 2015 at 800.821.1831. Hamilton Relay is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or disability.
Hamilton Relay, Inc. is a division of Hamilton Telecommunications based in Aurora, NE. Hamilton offers a competitive wage and full time benefits.
As of July 31, 2015, Virginia Relay welcomes Hamilton Relay as the new Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) provider for Virginia. To help you understand what to expect with this transition, here are responses to a few Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Virginia Relay closing?
No, quite the opposite! Virginia Relay, the free public service that enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to communicate with standard telephone users, is still available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have simply chosen a new service provider. As of July 31, 2015, we begin a new 5-year contract with Hamilton Relay as Virginia’s provider of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).
Who is Hamilton Relay?
Hamilton Relay is a division of Hamilton Telecommunications, a diversified telecommunications service provider headquartered in Aurora, Nebraska. Hamilton Relay has provided telecommunications relay services for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, or have difficulty speaking since 1991. Including Virginia, Hamilton Relay currently provides TRS and/or CapTel service in 18 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the island of Saipan.
Why did Virginia Relay choose Hamilton Relay as its new service provider?
We chose Hamilton Relay because they have been providing high-quality TRS services across the country for 24 years. And with Hamilton Relay as our TRS provider, we are able to offer Virginia Relay users a host of new features, including 7-1-1 routing and a Speech-to-Speech User Training Line. Hamilton Relay also has a well-established presence in the deaf and hard of hearing community, both nationwide and here in Virginia, as they have been providing CapTel service in Virginia since 2011. With Hamilton Relay as our service provider, we are confident that Virginia Relay will continue to offer our users the highest quality TRS and customer service.
When I dial 7-1-1 to place a Virginia Relay call, who will answer my call?
Now, every Virginia Relay call is routed to one of five Hamilton Relay call centers located across the U.S., and answered by the first available Communication Assistant (CA). All Hamilton Relay CAs receive the same training and follow the same rules and protocols for call handling. That means you can expect each and every call made through Virginia Relay to accommodate personal calling preferences and be processed promptly, professionally and accurately by our specially-trained CAs.
Will I need to create a new Virginia Relay Choice Profile?
No. All of your calling preferences as established in your existing Virginia Relay Choice Profile have been transferred and are automatically available to the Hamilton Relay CA every time you make or receive a call. To create your Virginia Relay Choice Profile, please visit www.varelay.org. To make updates to an existing profile, contact Virginia Relay Customer Care at the number below.
Will Hamilton Relay offer any new features?
Yes! With Hamilton Relay as our TRS provider, Virginia Relay is able to offer more features than ever before. New available features include: 7-1-1 routing, a Speech-to-Speech User Training Line, and Remote Conference Captioning (coming soon). A complete list will soon be available at www.varelay.org.
Will there be a charge for these new features?
No. All of the services and features available from Virginia Relay continue to be free public services, including TRS, and CapTel. Charges still apply to long distance calls.
How do I place a Virginia Relay call?
As always, anyone can make a Virginia Relay call just by dialing 7-1-1. Or, you can use the following phone numbers to reach any of these specific services:
Have more questions?
Feel free to contact Virginia Relay Customer Care:
Please note that under Hamilton Relay’s rules and policies, Communication Assistants (CA) are required to relay all comments shared between the calling parties, and are not permitted to respond to comments or questions directed to the CA, or to have side conversations with either party. For assistance in using Virginia Relay, please contact Virginia Relay Customer Care.
According to the Virginia Association of the DeafBlind, there are about 16,000 people living in Virginia with some degree of combined vision and hearing loss. Persons who are DeafBlind vary greatly in their background and experiences. For example, one individual may have lived his or her entire life blind or visually-impaired, and then begin to lose hearing later in life. Another individual may have lived his or her life deaf or hard-of-hearing, but now is losing vision due to glaucoma, macular degeneration, or another health condition. Other individuals may have had full hearing and vision for most of their lives, but are now experiencing some age-related loss of both. Each of these people will have different needs to communicate and live independently at home and/or in the workplace.
The Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (VDBVI) provides services and resources which empower individuals who are blind, vision-impaired or DeafBlind to achieve their desired levels of employment, education and personal independence. Elizabeth Spiers is the program director for DeafBlind services at VDBVI and recently provided an overview of the agency’s services for individuals living with combined vision and hearing loss. These services include:
Rehabilitation Training/Independent Living and Vocational Rehabilitation
Elizabeth and her colleague, Christine Day, work throughout Virginia to meet with people who are DeafBlind and help assess how their combined vision and hearing loss is impacting their lives, both at home and at work. They then make personalized recommendations and help connect each person with service providers and programs to obtain adaptive equipment, services and training that will help them to communicate more easily and live and work independently. VDBVI works closely with rehabilitation teachers, education service coordinators and/or vocational rehabilitation counselors to provide written results and recommendations and assist in providing services for customers who are DeafBlind. To receive rehabilitation teaching/independent living or vocational rehabilitation services, you must have an open case with VDBVI.
iCanConnect is a national program that distributes no-cost telecommunications equipment to people who are DeafBlind and low income. In Virginia, VDBVI identifies and assesses applicants to make sure they are good candidates for the program and makes recommendations for the telecommunications equipment that is best suited for each person’s needs. When the equipment is ordered, VDBVI helps install it in the consumer’s home, and provides the necessary training and tutoring to make sure they understand how to use it. iCanConnect applicants do not need an open case with VDBVI to receive equipment. To apply, please visit www.icanconnectvirginia.org.
Community Outreach and Education
Elizabeth and Christine regularly offer presentations for people who would like to know more about DeafBlindness. They also provide training to other agencies and organizations working with this population. Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired Located in Richmond, the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired provides training programs in a classroom setting to help people learn more about living independently with vision loss. Lessons include orientation and mobility, Braille, cooking, personal and home management, keyboarding and technology skills, job readiness skills, vocational evaluations, adult basic education, health education, and more.
For more information about any of VDBVI’s DeafBlind services, or to request a presentation, please contact Elizabeth Spiers at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-371-3133 (Voice/TTY) or 804-325-1282 (Voice/Videophone).
From the Spring 2015 issue of The Commonwealth Caller. Read the full newsletter here.
The Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), the area’s leading non-profit for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and deafblind, is proud to host Celebrate Communication 2015. Northern Virginia’s premier information fair for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community will be held from 10am – 2pm on Saturday, May 16 at the Northern Virginia Community College Ernst Center Gymnasium in Annandale.
Celebrate Communication is free for the public and will feature exhibits and activities providing information to support better communication and understanding for people with hearing loss and their families and friends. More than 40 organizations, businesses, educational institutions and community groups will be on site offering free information on hearing assistive technologies, cochlear implants, government services, hearing aids, telecommunications and Relay services, hearing assistance dogs, professional services, and more. A full list of sponsors and exhibitors can be found on NVRC’s website at www.nvrc.org.
Other activities for all ages will include:
AT A GLANCE:
WHAT: Celebrate Communication 2015
WHO: The Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC)
WHEN: Saturday, May 16, 2015; 10am – 2pm
WHERE: Northern Virginia Community College
Ernst Center Gymnasium
8333 Little River Turnpike
Annandale, VA 22003
COST: Free; free parking available in “B” lots