Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Special Post for My Hard of Hearing Friends (Or for those who also have hard of hearing friends)

I've totally come to terms with the fact that I can't hear, that I'm slightly different from everyone else, and I'm okay with that. But even though I say, "I can do everything you can do, except hear", I've had to admit there are some frustrations. One of them has always been the telephone.

Growing up, my mother would have to listen to my phone conversations on another line and cover the mouthpiece while she relayed what they were saying to me. Everyone was always asking me what that echo was... I was too ashamed to tell them the truth. It was just one more thing that made me different from everyone else...something else for them to make fun of.

As an adult, I used VCO (Voice Carry Over). The process went something like this: 

I called a 1-800 number, a relay operator. I would tell the relay operator what number I was calling. The operator dialed that person and connected us. The operator then proceeded to listen to our conversation and type out whatever the other person was saying. The words would appear on a screen. I would talk back. We had to remember to say "go ahead" every time we were done speaking so the operator would know to switch lines again.

The upside to this:

I could make my own phone calls without my mother having to drop everything and listen in.

The downside:

More often than not, folks would hang up on me. "I'm not buying anything. Sorry." Also, the process of explaining to everyone how it all worked and what they  needed to do...eh.

And I had a stranger listening to all the details of my personal life.

This was before text messaging.

Then text messaging came along and I thought I'd never need anything else...but you can't text the doctor and make an appointment. You can't text the groomer and get your dogs hooked up and so on...

So hubby became my secretary after a while. Poor guy.

But to make a long story short, there is now something for us. It's funny how this came about. I follow another deaf author named Dawn Colclasure. In her newsletter a few months ago, she mentioned yet another deaf author, Shanna Groves. Shanna and I connected and as I was heading her way (Kansas City), we agreed to meet in person. We met at the Deaf Cultural Center (more about that soon) and while there, my stepmum grabbed the latest edition of Hearing Loss Magazine.

In that magazine is an ad for CapTel with Sprint.

And tomorrow I am getting a new cell phone!!!!!!!!! That I will be able to talk on!!!! I will no longer have to text 15 messages to relay the latest drama in my life when crap goes down. I can just call my friend! Just like anyone else. And my hubby no longer has be my secretary.

How it works: You register with CapTel. *You must have an Android-powered cell phone, but this service is FREE. HOWEVER, there's also a home phone. I did not check into this though. I use the cell for everything.* Someone calls your CapTel number...and they just natter away and the program itself converts their words to text on your screen right before your very eyes. You natter back. And the program also works for voicemail!!!!

I'm very excited about this and as I learned from talking to Shanna last week, for some reason, people are not advertising that they have stuff for the hearing "impaired". You have to ask for it. And I'm not afraid to ask for it.

The people in the Sprint office hadn't even heard of this feature their own company is offering. It was a learning experience all the way around. I just want to share this...we need to spread the word about this awesome feature. I'm sure I'm not the only one who didn't know of it. I hope that this post reaches at least one Deaf/Hard of Hearing person who can utilize this feature.

Find out more about it here or here


  1. This is great news, Tara! So glad we meet.

  2. That is wonderful! Yay! So glad this is available! I can so relate to your experiences using relay. Hearing people who don't understand what it is hang up without giving me a chance to say anything or they are all "This sounds like a scam!" and won't listen to anything I say. So I know those frustrations well. I have an Android, and I also can talk, so I'll look into getting this set up on my phone. Thank you for mentioning me. :) Enjoy your phone calls!

  3. Dawn, I hope you can get yourself hooked up. Let me know what you think of it. Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and support.

  4. I think this is just awesome. I will share it on facebook.