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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  • Events, Virginia Relay

Catching Up with Our Outreach Coordinators

  • Apr 14, 2017
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  • publicrelationsdept

Virginia Relay outreach coordinators, Frazelle Hampton and Paul Stuessy, at the Richmond Women’s Health & Fitness Expo.

At Virginia Relay, we have two outreach coordinators—Frazelle Hampton and Paul Stuessy. Frazelle oversees all Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) outreach and Paul is in charge of all Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) outreach.

In these roles, they are responsible for educating the public and potential relay users and referral sources on the wide array of services available through Virginia Relay and installing communication equipment in individual homes.

To accomplish this, they spend about 75% of their time on the road attending trade shows and other events, and making house calls. Both Paul and Frazelle have been in their current positions for about two years.

“There’s nothing like helping someone who hasn’t been able to use the phone for years talk to their granddaughter again,” says Frazelle.

Paul agrees. “The work I do is a labor of love,” he says. “I wake up in the morning wondering who I am going to help make life better for that day.”

We cannot thank them enough for all their hard work!

If you or someone you know is interested in learning about Virginia Relay, feel free to contact them at the numbers below.
Paul: 804-616-4876 (VP)
Frazelle: 804-726-6615 (Voice)

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Don’t Miss Celebrate Communication 2017!

  • Apr 7, 2017
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  • publicrelationsdept

Click to enlarge.

On Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Northern Virginia Community College, the Northern Virginia community will turn out to attend the 2017 Celebrate Communication information fair.

With over 40 vendors, attendees will receive free information on a wide variety of resources, including state and local government programs, cutting edge technology for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, ASL and Cued Speech, hearing dogs, and much more.

Virginia Relay is proud to again be a sponsor of this event. Please be sure to visit our booth to learn more about the many services we offer. Thank you to Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons for organizing the event and Northern Virginia Community College for hosting it. This is always such a fun event and we can’t wait to attend!

The next meeting of the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC) will be held Thursday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (8004 Franklin Farms Drive) in Henrico. These meetings are open to the public. VRAC members represent a cross-section of relay users and serve as a consumer-based focus group for development and testing of new relay features and services. To learn more about VRAC, please visit:

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Nominations Due by Monday, April 3

Paul Stuessy with Virginia 2016 Better Hearing and Speech Month award recipient Brenda Eggleston

Hamilton Relay, the contracted Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider of Virginia Relay, is seeking candidates for the 2017 Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award. We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking and who demonstrate strong leadership, volunteerism and involvement within his/her community. The award will be presented during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May.

If there is someone you wish to nominate, please visit to complete a brief questionnaire telling us about your nominee’s accomplishments. You may submit the questionnaire online or download and complete the form. Please send your nominations to Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at, by Monday, April 3.

Celebrating community leaders during Better Hearing and Speech Month is something we look forward to each year. We are eager to learn more about the deserving community leaders in your community; nominate someone you know today!

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The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is looking to hire a Technology Assistance Program Specialist Coordinator. The position administers contracts providing Technology Assistance Program (TAP) services throughout Virginia, provides program support to the TAP service delivery system, serves as a TAP liaison to Virginia stakeholders and provide back up support to the front desk.

Please click here to view the full job posting and instructions for applying.

Virginia's 2016 Hamilton Relay Scholarship recipient, Taylor Thomas-Harris

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 2017 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, 2017 to be considered eligible for selection. For more information, please contact Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at

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  • Virginia Relay

Happy Retirement, Arva!

  • Dec 1, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

When Arva Priola, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator of the disAbility Resource Center, lost her hearing in 1989, she retired from teaching and began researching ways to help herself through this difficult time. She discovered the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and within a month she had started a local chapter, the Hearing Loss Association of Rappahannock. It was here that she met Faith Smith, who offered her a job at the disAbility Resource Center doing outreach for Virginia Relay’s Telecommunications Assistance Program (TAP), helping people obtain assistive telecommunications equipment throughout Virginia. Just when she thought her life was over, she realized it had just begun.

Arva, who is retiring at the end of 2016, has accomplished much in her 20-year career, receiving multiple awards and honors for her work and advocacy. But of all her achievements, three stand out. First, is the Visor Alert Program, which protects people with hearing loss during traffic stops by enabling communication with law enforcement. Virginia adopted the program statewide after running a pilot program in 2002. Second, are the guidelines for communication access in hospitals, which were established by House Bill 1956, and passed by the general assembly and signed by the governor in 2015. Third, is establishing the Virginia Relay Advisory Council alongside Cheryl Heppner.

“Virginia Relay and TAP keep us connected to the world and prevent us from becoming isolated,” says Arva. “And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with them to help touch so many lives.”

And while it was a difficult decision to retire, she knows that this is not the end, but rather another new beginning. So how does she plan to spend her retirement? First on her list is visiting her new grandson, Landon, in Washington, and secondly to breed her French bull dogs who she loves very much. We at Virginia Relay would like to wish her all the best and let her know that she always has a home here.

SIT Hosts Deaf Awareness Week Open House

  • Oct 15, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

This September during Deaf Awareness Week, the Statewide Interagency Team (SIT) of Virginia hosted an open house at the VDDHH and Virginia Department for Aging and
Rehabilitative Services (DARS) offices in Richmond. Guests watched demonstrations of the latest assistive communications technologies, and met representatives from local agencies and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of Virginians who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and DeafBlind.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

The Statewide Interagency Team of Virginia

Elizabeth Spiers of the Virginia DBVI promoting the iCanConnect program for people who are DeafBlind.

Eric Raff, VDDHH Deputy Director with Linda Thornton and Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

Our team of interpreters.

Ron Lanier, VDDHH Director, with Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.