If your family and friends are getting tired of hearing “What?!” every time they speak with you on the phone, the government may be your newest ally. In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, and under Title IV, individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing are to be given Telecommunications Relay Services. Such services include telephones with amplified sound, closed- captioned answering machines, and signalers that light up when receiving a call. While texting and other forms of written telecommunication have become increasingly popular, the designation of these services originated in an attempt to bring direct communication to the masses, regardless of hearing- related disabilities.

While this law acts at the national level, state governments are also doing their part in providing telephone services to those who wear hearing aids or are D/deaf.

illinois - telecommunications - access - deaf - hard - of -hearing - loss - aids

Illinois Telecommunications Access Corporation (ITAC)

Since 1988, ITAC has been providing equipment either for loan or at a discounted rate. All you need is a working landline or cable service, proof of residency in Illinois, and an application signed by your doctor or audiologist. ITAC operates as a non-profit and acts as the intermediary between the residents and the phone companies, so if you live in Illinois and wish to experience a better connection over the phone, they are there for you.

Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (KCDHH)

Kentucky legislation, passed in 1980, expects all telephone companies to provide their customers not only with a Text Telephone (TTY), but also requires them to provide their services to these customers at a discounted price. Residents of this state can turn to KCDHH. Their application also requires doctor verification, proof of residence, and a valid telephone or internet service. However, their equipment is free and only offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be sure to sign up!

california - access - telecommunications - hearing - loss - aids - deafness - hard - of - hearing

California Telephone Access Program (CTAP)

In 1979, California legislation was enacted to establish a program to provide telecommunication devices to those in need. CTAP was created in order to provide free equipment to those who have documented hearing-related issues. A simple question you may be asking is how these states can afford to provide such high-tech equipment for free. In California, this program is funded by all residents with a phone bill. Residents can look to their bill to find a small surcharge listed as “CA Relay Service and Communications Devices Fun,” so if you are a beneficiary of this program, thank your neighbors!

Maryland Accessible Telecommunications Program (MAT)

The MAT program starts you off by evaluating your needs and finding the solution that best suites you. What is different about this program from other states’ is that you must be on a fixed income. While this limits the users of this program, it still helps those who have the greatest need. This program provides a wide variety of solutions, including bed shakers to alert of a phone call you when you sleep, Braille TTYs, and picture phones, so hopefully there is the perfect solution for you.

With all these great resources out there provided at little to no cost, speaking to and hearing your friends and family on the telephone should no longer be an issue with your hearing aid!

Check to see what services are offered in your home state and let us know in the comments!

By: Diana Michel



National Association of the Deaf

Illinois Telecommunications Access

Kentucky Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing

California Telecommunications Program

Maryland Relay

15 responses to “Hearing Aids and the Phone: Government Phones for the Hard of Hearing

  1. I have a friend in Columbus ohio who is partialy deaf and she cant afford a phone of any kind because her income level is so low, she lives alone, does she need phone service to qualify for the phone that reads the conversation?

  2. I am 87 years of age, and can not hear much. have a difficult time of hearing on the phone, or even to hear it ring. I am isolated to my home, as I can not hear to go to places like church. Is there a phone that can help me re connect with family, church, restaurants and other places I can attend. Please let me know.

  3. Alabama 90 year old deaf needs phone. Is thee help? Link or # to call? Thanks!

  4. Is there availability for Kansas residence?

  5. Hello, I’m writing for my mother who is 78 yo and has approximately 60-70% sensory neural hearing loss bilaterally. I looked in to getting her a hearing aid but we cannot afford it at all. Now … she could barely hear a lot of people on the phone. Is there anything you can do to help us out please? Also, the first week of July she suffered a stroke and now is facing a stent placement in her carotid artery to save her life. But after this event, I’ve noticed her hearing or perception is even worse. Bottom line, she needs it even more so now. I thank you all for your assistance in this matter and bless you for what you do for those who need your help!!! Respectfully, Francesca

  6. Hello, my niece who is 90% deaf is in need of a phone due to not being able to hear the other person. She has no internet and no landline phone due to finances, she lives by herself and is on disability. We are in the state of Indiana. I have found the CapTel website but I am not finding anything for “free service” without the internet or landline hookup. Please help me to help her. Thank you!

  7. This would be for my Mom She does not have internet and can’t text. It has become so hard to talk to as I live in another state that we’ve given up . If there is a government program that really can provide these for hard of hearing I’d like to know . Because the one thing the elderly hard of hearing people all have is not an abundance of cash to spend on things like special phones

  8. Are these phones Bluetooth compatible?

  9. My mom is 93 years old. I live out of town but call her everyday. She doesn’t answer the phone often because she can’t hear it. When she does answer she doesn’t hear what is being said clearly. She had her ear drum punchered as a child and gets a lot of ear wax. Can you help!

    1. Hi Robin, A captioned phone sounds like it could be a good solution for your mother. You could buy her one here: http://www.captel.com/ Or apply for a free one from the government.

  10. My. Mom is 93 and can’t hear very much. She says she can , but u have to talk loud and she still has a lot of problems. As for the phone she can’t understand u at all. She read very well. She really needs help.

    1. Hi Betty, Does your mother have a captioned telephone? That will really help her. Let us know what we can do to help. Best, Audicus

  11. do you know if there is a govt. agency in Colorado that offers free specialized phones for seniors that are hard of hearing? Any assistance you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Deborah, We have reached out to the TEDPA for you and inquired about Colorado. We will let you know if we hear back. Here is the link to the TEDPA website: http://www.tedpa.org/StateProgram.aspx – the link for the state of Colorado doesn’t seem to be working.

      1. Hi Deborah, I received a message back. You can try calling the Maryland Relay Customer Service at 1-800-552-7724 during business hours, M-F.

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