Thanks to FREE apps like these, a smartphone can be an incredibly powerful communications tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Download them now from your device’s apps store.

IP-Relay from Purple Communications enables deaf or hard-of-hearing users to make and receive text relay calls. Calls are free and do not count against your monthly phone minutes. For Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.

Get video relay service on the go with ntouch, the app from Sorenson Communications that turns your smartphone into an instant videophone. For Apple and Android devices.

Hamilton Mobile CapTel
See exactly what is being said to you on every call with Hamilton Mobile CapTel, the app that translates your caller’s words into easy-to-read text captions. Ideal for hard-of-hearing or deaf people who want to make voice calls. For Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

Enjoy video chat wherever you’re comfortable! ConvoMobile lets you call any videophone and features one-click Video Relay calling. It’s also the first mobile VRS app to have a 911 hot button. For Apple and Android devices.

Virtual Voice
Virtual Voice uses text to speech (TTS) and speech recognition features to enable deaf and speech-disabled users to communicate with others without the need for sign language or lip reading. For Android devices.

iSpeech converts text to speech and will even translate your text into 18 foreign languages, making it great for travel. Choose from a selection of voices. For Apple and Blackberry devices.

Dragon Dictate
Perfect for ASL users and late-deafened adults, Dragon Dictate changes voice to text captions, making it easy for deaf and hard-of-hearing users to communicate face-to-face with others. For Apple devices.

Video call and instant message anyone on Skype for free. For Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.

Feel who’s calling and texting you with Vibe, the app that uses vibration patterns to help you ID callers. Pick a contact and set or create a unique vibration pattern for them—it’s that easy! For Android devices.

Deaf Note
Deaf Note replaces the need for pen and paper to write notes back and forth. Save or export your notes, change font sizes, and more. For Android devices.

Buzz Cards
Buzz Cards by Sorenson Communications works like a deck of flash cards to help deaf users communicate more easily with those who don’t know sign language. Make and edit cards as needed, or create cards ahead of time for messages you use more often (e.g., “Where is the restroom?” or “Where is the nearest bus stop?”). Your cards are organized by category (e.g., “Dining” or “Travel”) to make them easy to find later. For Apple devices.

Wireless Device now Available through TAP

  • Jan 23, 2012
  • |
  • publicrelationsdept

The Virginia Relay Technology Assistance Program (TAP) is now offering its first wireless device. The Jitterbug is an easy-to-use cell phone with a loud speaker and earpiece shaped to work with hearing aids.  The phone is extremely popular with seniors who do not want the programming and complicated features often associated with today’s Smartphones and wireless communication devices.

The Jitterbug will be available through the TAP L2O (Loan-to-Own) program beginning in December. Exclusive to the program, qualified applicants will receive a no-cost phone and free activation, a waived five-minute Operator service fee, no contract and no cancellation fees, a free car charger and case, and free LiveNurse application with all rate plans.

While the Jitterbug cell phone will be provided by TAP L2O, recipients will be responsible for the costs of the monthly service plan.  Plans will start at $14.99 for 50 minutes and include nationwide coverage. VDDHH also plans to add a captioning cell phone and smart phone to the TAP L2O equipment program in 2012.

To find out if you qualify for a Jitterbug cell phone, contact the VDDHH outreach office nearest you. For a list of office locations visit or call 1-800-552-7917 (voice/text).

Virginia Relay would like to remind you that you can enjoy the convenience of CapTel wherever you happen to be with Hamilton Mobile CapTel for smartphones. Mobile CapTel allows you to read captions of what’s being said to you during conversations, providing word-for-word transcriptions displayed on your mobile device, similar to captions on a television. Mobile CapTel is free to use, available 24/7 and only requires two simple things:

1)    A compatible smartphone with a speaker phone or a hands-free headset that works with hearing aids/cochlear implants

2)    An account with Hamilton Web CapTel – requires a simple, one-time registration at

With a wide variety of Android, Blackberry, and iPhone smartphones available on the market, Hamilton now provides a convenient Smartphone Selector to determine if your phone is compatible with Mobile CapTel. Just visit, select your wireless network provider and your phone, and you will find all the information you need to get started with Mobile CapTel.

The newest offering from Mobile CapTel is an app that is optimized for Android Tablets, allowing you to use your Android Tablet to read captions of your conversation while you listen and talk over the phone. To use the app, you will need to use your Android Tablet to download the Hamilton Mobile CapTel app from the Android Market and make sure you have registered for a Hamilton Web CapTel account. Once installed, you will be able to use Mobile CapTel to place and receive calls with your Android Tablet and any telephone (i.e. landline, office, cell phone or smartphone).

To learn more about Mobile CapTel, the Smartphone Selector, or Mobile CapTel for Android Tablets, please visit

Common FAQ about Mobile Video Relay Services

  • May 20, 2011
  • |
  • publicrelationsdept

Technology has transformed cell phones from simple devices that make calls to complex gadgets that can do just about anything. One of the greatest innovations to the cell phone for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person has been the introduction of a front-facing camera, which allows the user to view the display screen and the camera at the same time. This now common feature led to the creation of mobile video relay services, first introduced in June 2010 when ZVRS announced VRS support on the new iPhone.

How does Video Relay Service (VRS) work?
VRS allows deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to have telephone conversations with hearing people. Mobile VRS allows users with a videophone and real-time video connection to connect with an interpreter who “relays” the conversation between the two parties. The interpreter voices what the deaf person is signing to the hearing caller and translates the spoken words into American Sign Language (ASL) for the deaf/hard-of-hearing caller to see on screen.

What are the pros and cons of mobile VRS?

  • Some providers have good, clear video, even in 3G
  • Most apps have flash and vibrating alerts for incoming calls
  • Some providers have easy dialing on Google
  • Mobility = Freedom (to do errands and such, not be stuck near home/office video phone)
  • Save time communicating in ASL compared to lengthy or complicated texting or email


  • Some providers’ address books do not sync properly
  • Some providers drain battery faster than others
  • Some providers use too many phone #’s  for each device
  • Some providers are not interoperable (point to point calls) with different providers
  • Some providers have limited data plans

What should I consider when getting a new cell phone?
There are a few things to take into consideration when thinking about getting a new cell phone to use for mobile VRS. The phone should include:

  • A front-facing camera
  • A fast processor
  • High-speed internet such as 4G and Wifi, but 3G is ok

Once you have found your phone or phone choices, double check to see if a mobile VRS service supports your choices.

Where can I see a demonstration for mobile VRS?
You can view two different videos on mobile VRS here:

What mobile VRS providers are available?
There are several providers that have mobile VRS available, including:

  • Sprint Relay
  • Sorenson
  • ZVRS
  • Convo Relay
  • Purple Communications
  • AT&T
  • Mainstream VRS

What applications are available to use?
There are many applications that can be downloaded onto your cell phone. A few of these include:

VRS service providers are realizing that mobile VRS will be a big part of our future. It is our hope that because technology is constantly evolving, the deaf and hard-of-hearing community will be able to greatly benefit from these innovations.