Speech Disability and Using the Telephone
If you have difficulty speaking due to cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury or other condition, you do not have to struggle to communicate over the telephone. Technologies and services are available to make sure people who have difficulty speaking can use the telephone to conduct business, make appointments, and keep in touch with friends and loved ones every day.
Maryland Relay is a free public service that enables people throughout Maryland who are Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to stay connected by phone. Easily accessed by dialing 7-1-1, Maryland Relay offers a variety of services that are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to meet each person’s needs.
Speech-to-Speech (STS) Relay service is designed specifically for people who can hear but have mild to moderate difficulty speaking over the telephone. During an STS call, the user is connected with a Maryland Relay STS Operator who is specially trained to be able to listen carefully to the STS user. The Operator may re-voice everything the STS user says, or only re-voice when needed, depending on the user’s preference. The STS user then hears the other person’s response spoken directly to him or her.
STS users can set up personal call preferences through a Customer Profile where they may provide a standard greeting that may be used when placing and receiving calls. By setting up a Customer Profile, STS users can also save a list of up to 50 speed dial numbers, a chosen long-distance provider, and more.
Many individuals who have difficulty speaking are best understood when they can be seen. That is why Maryland Relay also offers Visually Assisted STS, which gives the user the opportunity to also use gestures and other visual cues during STS calls. Visually Assisted STS establishes a live video connection between the user and the Operator by using a webcam and a computer with Skype software. The Operator uses visual cues such as mouth movements, facial expressions, and other gestures to better understand the user’s side of the conversation and his or her intended meaning.
Maryland Relay provides people who have difficulty speaking with the opportunity to be better understood over the telephone. For more information about STS service from Maryland Relay, please visit mdrelay.org or call 800-552-7724 (Voice/TTY) or 443-453-5970 (VP).
*Skype is a trademark of Skype, and Maryland Relay and is not affiliated, sponsored, authorized or otherwise associated with the Skype group of companies.