Resource Guide: TELEPHONE RELAY

Last Updated; February 19, 2014

Maine Telecommunications Relay Service (MERS)

All callers can reach the Relay Service by dialing 711 (V/TTY)

CapTel calls (to reach a CapTel user): 1-877-243-2823

Speech to Speech calls: 1-888-890-9256

Spanish to Spanish calls: 1-888-890-9255

The Maine Relay Service is a free service and available 24 hours a day, every day, to provide a communications link between those who use a standard voice telephone and those who use specialized telephone equipment or assistance because they are D/deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech or physical disability that prevents use of a standard telephone. The specialized telecommunications equipment may be a Text Telephone (TTY), a telebraille telephone for someone who is deafblind, or other type of equipment to address a specific communication disability. There is no extra charge for the relay service. All calls are confidential and no record is kept of calls.

When a call is placed through the Maine Relay Service, a Communication Assistant (CA) provides the needed communication link between the two parties. For example, when a call is placed between a D/deaf person and a hearing person, the CA types to the D/deaf caller what the hearing caller says. Then the CA voices the D/deaf caller’s typed response to the hearing person. This is known as Text-to-Voice relay service.

Other types of relay services include:

  • Voice Carryover (VCO) – this is available to a caller, such as a person who is late deafened, who wishes to speak instead of type, but needs to receive responses in typed form. In this case, the other caller hears the VCO caller’s voice and his/her response is typed by the CA back to the VCO caller.
  • Hearing Carryover (HCO) – this type of relay is used by a person who has a speech disability. The other caller speaks directly to the HCO user, who then types a response, which is voiced by the CA.
  • Speech-to-Speech Relay – this option allows a person with a speech disability to use a CA specially trained in understanding pronunciation affected by a variety of speech disorders. The CA repeats what the caller says in a manner that makes the caller’s words clear and understandable to the other caller on the line. The person with the speech disability then hears the response of the other caller directly. No special telephone is needed for this type of relay service.

    Another feature available in association with the Maine Relay Service is Relay Choice Profile, which allows MERS users to provide information about their call preferences (i.e., slow typing) and frequently called numbers to the Relay Service, so that it can be entered into the computerized Relay Service equipment. Each time the MERS user makes or receives a relay call, that Profile is automatically activated and makes sure that the call is handled according to the MERS user’s personal preferences.

    This can include whether the MERS user wants the CA to communicate background noise on the call, or what local and long-distance telephone service the user has (to assure correct billing of toll calls). MERS users can also provide frequently called telephone numbers as part of a profile, to speed up connections when they place a call. For more information or to arrange for a presentation about the Maine Relay Service, contact the Maine Center on Deafness:

    Maine Center on Deafness
    68 Bishop Street, Suite 3
    Portland, Maine 04103
    1-800-639-3884 (V/TTY within Maine)
    797-7656 (V/TTY)
    207-766-7111 (VP)
    207-766-7113 (VP)
    797-9791 (FAX)
    Email: info@mcdmaine.org
    Website: Maine Center on Deafness
    Website: Hamilton Relay