Wireless TTY Calling

Wireless TTY Calling

I just read that there are now over 100 million cell phone users in the United States. This is up from about zero just a couple of years ago. Lost to many of us in this flurry of activity is the fact that you can use a TTY with a cell phone. This means that people who can’t use a voice phone can still be connected no matter where they go. (It’s probably not a good idea to place a wireless TTY call while you’re driving <G>, but then, I don’t think it’s a good idea to place a wireless voice call while you’re driving, either.

Here’s a primer on wireless TTY calling. You may be surprised to learn that it really isn’t all that complicated. Also, note that this article provides general information that describes a standard system. Other systems may work or perform differently. It is imperative that you understand how a system works BEFORE you buy it.

There are three options for wireless TTY calling, and the option a person uses depends on the type of TTY she has. (Note that a portable TTY is the instrument of choice. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have wireless telephone capability and need an electrical outlet for your TTY.) The three TTY options are cellular-ready TTY, direct-connect TTY, and acoustic TTY.

CELLULAR-READY TTY

The cellular-ready TTY is one that has a “hands free” jack (2.5 mm audio jack) that accepts a headset for voice communications. The TTY is plugged into the “hands free” jack.

Advantages
1. Does not require any other equipment beyond the cellular phone and the portable TTY.
2. Because of the direct cable connection between the TTY and the cellular phone, this option offers a clear signal.

Disadvantages
1. Equipment may be more expensive than other types.
2. To use VCO, you must disconnect the cable before you talk and reconnect it before you can read the response on the TTY.

How to Make a Call
1. Connect the cable from the TTY to the phone.
2. Turn on the TTY and press the spacebar.
3. Dial from the cellular phone.

How to Answer a Call
1. Connect the cable from the TTY to the phone.
2. Press “Send” or follow the phone instructions to answer.
3. Turn on the TTY and type.

DIRECT-CONNECT TTY

The direct-connect TTY uses the standard phone jack (RJ11 jack) to connect to the cellular phone through a data converter.

Advantages
1. May be less expensive than the Cellular-Ready equipment.
2. Because of the direct cable connection between the TTY and the cellular phone, this option offers a clear signal.

Disadvantages
1. Requires a data converter (also called an RJ11 intelligent interface) in addition to a cellular phone and a portable TTY.
2. More complicated to use than the Cellular-Ready method.
3. To use VCO, you must have a second phone that you attach to the other phone jack on the TTY. Speak into the second phone.

How to Make a Call
1. Connect a telephone cable from the TTY to the data converter.
2. Connect the cellular cable from the data converter to the cellular phone.
3. Turn on the TTY, the data converter, and the cellular phone.
4. Dial from the cellular phone.

How to Answer a Call
1. Connect a telephone cable from the TTY to the data converter.
2. Connect the cellular cable from the data converter to the cellular phone.
3. Turn on the TTY, the data converter, and the cellular phone.
4. Press “Send” or follow the phone instructions to answer
5. Type a greeting.

ACOUSTIC TTY

The acoustic TTY is one that has the acoustic cups into which you place the cellular phone. It is very important that the phone you choose fits in the cups. Be sure to try out the equipment together before you buy it to be sure you have a good acoustic connection.

Advantages
1. Works like a standard acoustic TTY, so you may already know how to use it.
2. Doesn’t require any equipment other than a cellular phone and a portable TTY.
3. VCO works just like with a standard acoustic TTY.

Disadvantages
1. Because of the acoustic connection between the TTY and phone, the signal may not be as clear as with the other methods.

How to Make a Call
1. Turn on the TTY and the cellular phone.
2. Dial from the cellular phone.
3. Place the phone over the acoustic cups on the TTY

How to Answer a Call
1. Press “Send” or follow the phone instructions to answer.
2. Turn on the TTY.
3. Place the phone over the acoustic cups on the TTY

NOTES and TIPS

1. Be sure to get an analog cellular phone. Digital cellular phones are not TTY-compatible.
2. Be sure to get a cellular phone that has a vibration signaler, vice just an audio ring.
3. Be aware that cellular phone networks work very differently from a standard telephone line, and you may have connection problems that you don’t have on a standard phone line. Problems can include weak signal, disconnections, areas of no coverage, and static.
4. The best way to ensure that the cellular phone you buy is compatible with your TTY is to take your TTY with you and try it out before you buy a cellular phone.
5. Be aware that, in addition to the initial equipment costs, you must use a cellular service, which is a recurring expense (normally paid monthly).