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Speech Impairments

The wireless industry is committed to providing accessible devices to individuals with speech limitations.


Speech Impairments


People with speech impairments can still easily use wireless devices. Manufacturers are working hard to design effective, efficient phones to make communication easier.


Listed below are accessibility features that may be built in to a wireless device to make wireless products and services easier to use for individuals with speech impairments:

  • Text Communications – Texting is a fast and effective way to communicate nonverbally. Other text-based communications like e-mail and instant messaging services make it easy to communicate with your mobile device.
  • TTY Compatible – Wireless devices are usually compatible with certain Text Telephone (TTY) devices.
  • Voice Output – Voice Output features “speak” to you, offering information like battery level, Wi-Fi and cellular network signal levels, incoming calls or messages and contacts.
  • Speech Recognition – Smart devices continue to learn to recognize your specific speech patterns. Representatives of the devices you are interested can help you learn more about these features.

If a wireless device doesn’t come with a built-in accessibility feature, ask a wireless carrier representative if the features you are looking for can be downloaded. Third-party developers may offer wireless device apps that add relay services and functions like text-to-speech, screen readers and automatic dialing. It’s also a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional or wireless carrier representative about accessibility accessories and compatibility with Assistive Technology (AT).


Tips for Real-Time Text (RTT)

Benefits: RTT is faster than a text or SMS (Short Message Service). During RTT calls, each participant sees each individual character (letter, number, or symbol) as it is typed by the sender, mirroring spoken conversation. Faster communication can be beneficial during high stress situations—such as an emergency—when you need to quickly relay critical information about your location and state of wellness.

Other benefits of RTT include:

  • Operability with modern smartphone keyboards, allowing users to communicate in multiple languages, use emojis, or type symbols such as the “@” key.
  • Ability to communicate with the same ten-digit phone number that is used to conduct a voice call.
  • Avoiding costly supplemental devices such as TTYs because communication can be conducted solely through your wireless device.
  • Backward compatibility with TTY.
  • Applicability of TTY protocol such as abbreviated text.

Availability: How do I know if RTT works on my device? It is best to follow up with your wireless provider directly to learn about RTT availability for your plan and options for your device. Although RTT features vary based on your wireless provider and the type of device you are using, most of the latest models of smartphones should have RTT capabilities.

Safety: Can I call 911 with RTT? Yes, RTT can be used to connect with first responders during an emergency. If the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) you are connecting to is RTT-ready, then RTT communication will operate both ways. In some instances, RTT can also substitute for a TTY.

Usability: Accessing RTT settings on your device varies based on your wireless provider settings and the device that you are using. Some providers install RTT features directly into the software of certain devices. Other providers offer the service via an app that you can download to your smartphone. RTT is a new feature, and the wireless industry is committed to regularly enhancing and expanding the service.

Cost and Billing: The billing structure for RTT calling varies based on your individual plan with your wireless provider. Some providers offer unlimited voice calling as part of an accessibility plan, while others may offer RTT as part of their overall phone plan without additional charge. It is best to follow up with your service provider directly to discuss how RTT fits into your wireless plan. You can find helpful contact information for your provider at – Carriers & Services.

Additional Resources on RTT: 


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