Captioned Telephone Allows Hard-of-Hearing People in Maine to Hear and Read Telephone Conversations

October 1, 2007

Free Captioning Service Available to Maine Residents Through Maine Relay Service

When a person starts to lose his or her hearing, telephone conversations can become difficult and frustrating—and often lead to avoiding the phone altogether.

Thanks to advancements in technology—and a free service provided through the State of Maine—residents of Maine who have a hearing loss can enjoy trouble-free telephone conversations with absolute confidence.

It’s called “captioned telephone”—or CapTel®.

The captioned telephone looks and works just like a traditional phone, with one important difference: the CapTel phone has a bright, built-in display screen which displays captions of everything the other party says during the conversation

The secret behind captioned telephone service is voice recognition technology, which allows for virtually instantaneous captioning of spoken conversation. The captioned telephone user can listen to the other party—while also reading the captioned conversation on the display screen. “If you miss part of the conversation or aren’t quite sure that you heard correctly, you can simply read the words on the screen—without having to ask the other person to repeat what he or she said,” said Dixie Ziegler, Vice President of Hamilton Relay, the provider of Maine Relay.

According to Ziegler, many people who have hearing loss tend to avoid phone conversations because of frustration or embarrassment. In some cases, this leads to isolation from friends and family.

“CapTel can help a person with hearing loss stay involved, engaged and connected,” Ziegler said. “Having difficulty hearing is no longer a barrier to enjoying conversations with the people who matter most to you—because you can actually see what people are talking about!”

The captioning service is provided at no charge and is available 24 hours a day through Maine Relay Service, the free service that allows people who are hearing, hard of hearing, deaf, deaf-blind or speech disabled to communicate with each other via the telephone.

There are several ways to apply for a CapTel phone. The captioned telephone equipment is available at little or no cost to qualified Maine residents through Maine Center on Deafness’ (MCD) Equipment Distribution Program. For more information on the MCD Equipment Program, individuals may call MCD at 207.797.7656 TTY/V or (1.800.639.3884 TTY/V outside the Portland calling area) or visit their website at http://www.mcdmaine.org/tep.htm.

The phone is also available through a self-purchase program. Hamilton Relay has arranged, for a limited time only, to make CapTel phones available for just $99.00 (normally a retail value of $495). This offer comes with a 90-day trial period, which guarantees that if the customer is not entirely happy with CapTel, s/he can return the phone for a full refund within 3 months. To obtain a CapTel phone, customers simply complete an order form which is available on-line (http://www.hamiltonrelay.com/states/me.htm) and through Maine Relay Customer Service.

If you or someone you know has difficulty hearing on the telephone, discover more about free captioned telephone service in Maine by calling Maine Relay customer service at (800) 270.9709 or visiting: http://www.hamiltonrelay.com/states/me.htm.

About Maine Public Advocate Office

William C. Black, Deputy Public Advocate has been member on the Maine Telecommunications Relay Services Advisory Council for a number of years.

About Hamilton Relay

Hamilton Relay offers a variety of services including Internet Relay, Video Relay, Wireless Relay and CapTel. All services are available at www.hamiltonrelay.com. Hamilton Relay provides traditional relay services to 15 states, the Island of Saipan and the Virgin Islands.

CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.