What is TTY?

TTY is an acronym that stands for Text Telephone. It is also known as TTD or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. However, TTY is more widely accepted because it is also used by people with speech impairments.

A TTY is a device designed specially for deaf people, and people who are speech or hearing impaired. It enables them to use the telephone. It features a keyboard where users type their messages, which are then displayed on a text monitor. These messages can be sent back and forth between two TTY devices or between devices that share the same protocol.

How Does TTY Work?

A TTY indicates an incoming call with a flashing light, or through a vibrating wristband that resembles a watch. The device itself is often the size of a small laptop with a keyboard that holds about 20 to 30 character keys. It features a small screen that uses LEDs or an LCD to display the text. Some devices include a small roll of paper on which text could also be printed.

The letters in the typed message are turned into electrical signals that could travel over a regular telephone line to a compatible device. Upon reaching their destination, these signals are converted back into electronic text which can be displayed on the screen, printed out, or both.

Communicating With a Hearing Person

A hearing person can still communicate with a deaf person through an ordinary voice phone with the use of the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). The TRS employs special operators who types down the message so that the hearing impaired recipient can read it. Conversely, the recipient could type a response and the TRS operator will read the message over the phone for the hearing person. This procedure also done for hearing and speech impaired callers.

What are the Advantages of TTY Devices?

TTY devices make telephone communication more accessible for people with hearing and speech impairments. It provides the comfort of just picking up the phone and chatting away — a luxury which most hearing persons take for granted. It has also created a convenient means of contacting the police or the fire station in case of emergencies.