Nominations Due by Monday, April 2nd

Did you know that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month? To celebrate, Hamilton Relay wants to recognize a great leader from each state where they provide relay service.

We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking. To be nominated, one should demonstrate strong leadership, volunteerism and involvement within his/her community. Award recipients will be honored during the month of May and will be featured on the Hamilton Relay corporate website, on Hamilton Relay’s and Virginia Relay’s social media, in the Virginia Relay newsletter and on the Virginia Relay blog.

To nominate someone in Virginia, download and complete our brief questionnaire telling us about your nominee’s accomplishments. Nominations are due by April 2, 2018 and may be submitted to Virginia Relay’s outreach coordinator Frazelle Hampton to or directly to Hamilton Relay’s corporate office by email to, by fax to (402) 694-5110, or by mail to:

Hamilton Relay

1006 12th Street

Aurora, NE 68818

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Alvillar will promote TRS solutions for Virginians who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind or who have difficulty speaking.

Hamilton Relay, Virginia’s contracted relay provider, recently announced that Eric Alvillar has been hired as Virginia Relay Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) Outreach Coordinator. In this role, Eric will pursue outreach and educational opportunities throughout the Commonwealth to raise awareness of the TRS features available through Virginia Relay to enable people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind or who have difficulty speaking to place and receive telephone calls.

Eric has more than 13 years of professional experience in sales and marketing. He recently moved to Virginia from San Diego, California, where he was the operations and business development manager for POTHOS, Inc., a corporate travel agent and meeting/event planner. He also has military experience in the United States Navy.

“Being new to Virginia, I am looking forward to traveling and meeting people from all areas of the Commonwealth as I explore new and exciting opportunities to share information about Virginia Relay,” says Eric Alvillar. “I’m eager to meet both current and potential TRS users, and open more doors to accessible telecommunication.”

Eric Alvillar is available to provide information and training on how to use Virginia Relay TRS features to individuals and groups including agencies, businesses or schools. For more information, please visit or contact Eric at 804-295-2863 (Voice/TTY) or

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Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is seeking Virginia Relay users to join the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC)! VRAC needs new representatives to fill these vacancies:

  • Internet/Wireless Relay user
  • Video Relay Service (VRS) user

If you use these Relay features and are interested in serving on VRAC,  please contact Eric Raff at 804-404-9090 or

VRAC was established to focus on the statewide education and technical assistance activities of the Virginia Relay. VRAC focuses on Virginia Relay’s consumers’ needs, to advise and make recommendations to VDDHH, and to share information to the consumers. VRAC is comprised of various relay users providing guidance in public relations, marketing, education, and outreach.

VRAC members’ duties and responsibilities shall also include:

• Ensuring through research and practical experience that Virginia Relay is meeting the needs of its users;
• Collecting feedback from consumers to be shared with the Department, and the contractor(s);
• Providing advice on meeting the requirements for functional equivalency required by federal law;
• Assisting in the disseminating of information from VDDHH and the relay contractor(s) to consumers;
• Providing access to consumers and other interested parties through meetings held in various regions of the Commonwealth as determined by the Advisory Council

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As the Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Hamilton Relay acknowledges that opportunities for higher education affect the future of Virginia’s high school students.

We are pleased to once again extend the Hamilton Relay Scholarship opportunity to graduating high school students in Virginia who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to assist in their goals of continuing their education. One $500 scholarship will be awarded in each of the states where Hamilton Relay is the contracted telecommunications relay and/or captioned telephone service provider.

To be eligible for the 2018 Hamilton Relay Scholarship Program in Virginia, students must:

  1. Be a graduating high school student who is deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or has difficulty speaking;
  2. Be a resident of Virginia;
  3. Complete and submit an application, a response to the application’s essay question and a letter of recommendation.

If you know a deserving student who meets the eligibility requirements for this scholarship opportunity, please encourage them to submit an application. Applications are available online at and must be postmarked by March 1, 2018 to be considered eligible for selection. For more information, please contact Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at

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VDDHH Turns 45!

  • Oct 15, 2017
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In celebration of 45 years of serving Virginia’s deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and DeafBlind communities, the Virginia Department of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) held an anniversary open house at their central office this past September. They opened their doors to the public for two days, inviting community members to meet their staff, learn about their history and services, and enjoy light refreshments while mingling with friends and neighbors.

Eric Raff (deputy director of VDDHH), Jeanne Lavelle (president of VAD), and Ron Lanier (executive director of VDDHH) enjoying the festivities at the VDDHH 45th Anniversary Open House.

In 1972, VDDHH was established as the Virginia Council for the Deaf (VCD) after members of the Virginia Association of the Deaf passionately lobbied to convince lawmakers that Virginia needed an agency to serve its citizens who are deaf. This anniversary celebration paid tribute to several of the individuals who were instrumental in the founding and early survival of the agency. Over 150 people came out to help VDDHH celebrate this great milestone.

VDDHH 45th Anniversary Open House

  • Aug 15, 2017
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  • publicrelationsdept

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is celebrating 45 years of open doors! For nearly half a century, VDDHH has been breaking down communication barriers for Virginians who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, or DeafBlind. Through services like Virginia Relay, education, and outreach efforts, VDDHH has been working to bring people together.

Now, it’s time for everyone to come together! Join the celebration of VDDHH’s 45th anniversary. For two days, VDDHH will be hosting an open house at their central office. Learn about the history and the founders, meet the staff, and enjoy complimentary refreshments and fun for all!

The open house will be Friday, September 29th from 4pm-7pm and Saturday, September 30th from 10am-1pm. Come see what VDDHH is all about and help kick off the next 45 years of opening doors to communication!

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Nominations Due by Friday, August 11

Each September during Deaf Awareness Week, Virginia Relay and contract service provider Hamilton Relay recognize a local who is Deaf or deaf-blind.

We are looking for individuals who are deaf or deaf-blind and demonstrate strong leadership, volunteerism and involvement within his/her community. Award recipients will be honored during the month of September and will be featured on the Virginia Relay Facebook page, in the Virginia Relay Commonwealth Caller newsletter, as well as on the Hamilton Relay corporate website and under the Awards tab of the Hamilton Relay Facebook page.

To nominate someone in your community, click here to download and complete our brief questionnaire telling us about your nominee’s accomplishments. Nominations are due by August 11, 2017 and may be submitted to Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Outreach Coordinator at

We invite you to participate in the excitement by nominating someone you know today!

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Virginia Relay has selected Andrew Parker Leitner as the 2017 Hamilton Relay Scholarship winner! Andrew, a Woodgrove High School student from Round Hill, Virginia, has been given $500 to put towards his college education.

The $500 scholarship is available to high school seniors who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have difficulty speaking. A recipient is selected within each of the states where Hamilton Relay is the contracted service provider and is one of several ways the company gives back to the communities they serve.

“Hamilton takes pride in recognizing outstanding leadership and promoting education,” said Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Captioned Telephone Outreach Coordinator. “We are excited to have the opportunity to contribute to furthering Andrew’s education and wish him success in reaching his personal and professional goals.”

Andrew was awarded the $500 Hamilton Relay Scholarship after completing the application process, including writing an essay under the topic of communication technology. Andrew plans to attend George Mason University this fall to study Civil Engineering.

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Virginia Relay recognizes Better Hearing and Speech Month this May. Sponsored by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) since 1927, this annual observation provides opportunities to raise awareness about hearing and speech difficulties and to promote resources that can improve the quality of life for the nearly 40 million Americans who experience difficulty hearing and/or speaking.

Virginia Relay provides the most up-to-date technologies and specialized telecommunication equipment to enable people in Virginia who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to communicate by telephone.

To benefit from Virginia Relay, Virginia residents may take advantage of any of these resources:

  • Dial 7-1-1 to make a Virginia Relay call.
    A free public service of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Virginia Relay enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or who have difficulty speaking to communicate with standard telephone users. Relay services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and anyone can initiate a Virginia Relay call simply by dialing 7-1-1.

    Virginia Relay offers state-of-the-art features designed with the users’ needs in mind, including TTY (Text Telephone), Voice Carry-Over (VCO), Hearing Carry-Over (HCO), Speech-to-Speech (STS) and more. Detailed descriptions and calling instructions for each service are available online at

  • See what’s said with Captioned Telephone Service.
    Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) is designed for individuals who have difficulty hearing on the telephone and are able to speak for themselves. With a captioned telephone, users listen while viewing word-for-word captions of what’s said to them during phone conversations. Captioned Telephone Service is designed for individuals who are hard of hearing; late-deafened; deaf with speech, or who have a cochlear implant; use VCO; or can no longer use an amplified phone. Web and mobile versions of Captioned Telephone Service are also available for PC/Mac, Smartphones and Tablets. For more information, please visit
  • Apply for specialized telecommunication equipment.
    Specialized telecommunication equipment is available to Virginia residents who qualify medically and financially through the following programs:

    • Virginia Technology Assistance Program (TAP): Administered by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH), TAP provides specialized telecommunication equipment to qualified applicants whose disabilities prevent them from using a standard telephone. Available equipment includes text telephones (TTYs), amplified telephones, VCO phones, HCO phones, captioned telephones, signalers for the phone and door and more. For more information, please visit
    • TAP for Veterans: If you are a veteran living with hearing or speech loss, our no-cost Veterans’ Program can provide you with all the equipment you need to stay connected through the telephone. To qualify, you must be deaf, hard of hearing or have difficulty speaking and provide proof of honorable discharge. For more information on all TAP services, visit
    • iCanConnect Virginia: Administered by the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), iCanConnect Virginia provides specialized telecommunication equipment, along with installation, training and support, to low-income, DeafBlind Virginia residents. For more information, please visit
  • Find Relay-friendly businesses with Virginia Relay Partner.
    A free, educational program for Virginia businesses, Virginia Relay Partner helps reduce the number of hang ups Relay users sometimes experience when making business calls. Open to all Virginia-based businesses, Virginia Relay Partner provides businesses of all sizes with the free training and marketing materials they need to answer and place Relay calls with confidence.

    To find a list of Virginia Relay Partner businesses that are trained in answering and placing Virginia Relay calls, or to request that your business become a Virginia Relay Partner, please visit

  • Contact your local VDDHH outreach provider.
    VDDHH’s network of outreach providers provide workshops and training sessions to help all Virginians—including caregivers, public safety officials and business professionals—learn more about hearing loss and ways to communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing. They also assist new Virginia Relay users and their families and friends. To find your local VDDHH outreach provider, please visit

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VDDHH and HLAA Greater Richmond Chapter partner to educate individuals about the latest in hearing aid technology

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) is partnering with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Greater Richmond Chapter to host the ninth annual community informational session for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, or who have difficulty speaking. This year’s event is titled “A Most Confusing Wearable – The Hearing Aid” and will focus on the newest hearing aid technologies available on the market – specifically telecoil and Bluetooth.

Dr. Shantell Lewis, Chief Audiologist of Virginia Professional Hearing Healthcare Center and Virginia Professional Hearing Aid Center, will be the guest presenter and will provide guests with a broad overview of everything one should know before meeting with an audiologist and purchasing a hearing aid.

Topics to be covered include:

  • What questions to ask before buying a hearing aid
  • Telecoil and Bluetooth – what you need to know about hearing aids equipped with these new technologies
  • How to determine if a hearing aid will help you
  • Insurance and other resources to help pay for hearing aids
  • Hearing aid maintenance

Attendees will also be able to see examples of the newest hearing aid devices, as well as specialized telecommunication equipment that is available to qualified applicants through the VDDHH Technology Assistance Program.

“These events have been a wonderful partnership between VDDHH and HLAA of Greater Richmond to inform and educate the public about communications access issues impacting the local deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Christine Ruderson, VDDHH. “With so many new technologies and devices on the market, hearing aids are a hot topic right now, and we find that many people are confused. So this is a great opportunity for people to come and see the newest equipment and ask questions, so they are better prepared to talk to their audiologist and make informed decisions.”

This event is free to attend. Refreshments will be served and door prizes will be awarded. Guests are encouraged to R.S.V.P. to Christine Ruderson at or 804-662-9710.

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