The Impact of FTRI Specialized Phones: Enhancing Communication for Floridians

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FL Telecommunications Relay

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Jun 19, 2024

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Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

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Since 1991, Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) has improved the lives of Floridians experiencing hearing loss and speech impairments, through its specialized telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (EDP). Established by Floridas Telecommunications Access Systems Act (TASA) in response to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, FTRIs EDP oers an array of devices designed to bridge communication gaps.  Per TASA, a monthly 7-cent surcharge on landline phone bills covers the cost of FTRI distributed equipment, and the Florida Relay Service.  By providing equipment at no cost to consumers, FTRI is empowering individuals to lead more independent lives while remaining connected to the world. Let's take a look at several FTRI specialized devices and explore some heartwarming client stories that illustrate their profound impact on everyday lives.

 

Understanding FTRI Specialized Phones

 

FTRI specialized equipment caters to a range of communication needs. The devices include amplified phones, cell phone amplifiers, captioned telephones, text telephones (TTYs), and alerting devices. Each type is engineered to address specific needs:

 

1.     Amplified Phones: These phones are equipped with volume controls that can amplify sound significantly, up to 50 decibels, making it easier for individuals with hearing loss to understand conversations. They also feature tone settings, loud speakerphones, back-lit buttons, and loud ringers.


2.     Cell Phone Amplifiers: Amplifiers use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly

 

pair with smart phones (Android, iPhone).  These portable, rechargeable devices allow a user to enjoy many of the same features found on standard amplified phones, such as volume and tone controls, hearing aid compatibility, and loud speakerphones.

 

3.     Captioned Telephones:  These devices display real-time captions of the conversation on a large screen, helping those with severe hearing loss to 

read what the other party is saying.  Screens can be customized to a users preference, and call transcripts can be saved for future review.

 

4.     Text Telephones (TTYs): TTYs allow individuals with hearing or speech impairments to communicate via typed messages.

 

5.     Alerting Devices: These include flashing lights and loud ringers to alert individuals to incoming calls.

 

Transformative Client Stories

 


Jack and His Amplified Phone

 

Jack, a 75-year-old retired teacher, began experiencing hearing loss a few years ago. As his hearing deteriorated, he found it increasingly difficult to keep up with phone conversations, particularly with his grandchildren who live out of state. The frustration of missing out on these precious interactions led him to seek help from FTRI.

 

Upon receiving the Clarity XLC8, John noticed an immediate improvement. The adjustable volume and tone controls allowed him to customize each call. For the first time in years, he could clearly hear his grandchildren's voices. The device not only restored his ability to communicate, but also brought immense joy back into his life, through an improved connection with his loved ones.

 


Dave and his Cell Phone Amplifier

 

Like so many other Floridians, Dave disconnected his landline years ago.  He relied on his iPhone to make all his phone calls. Over time, however, he found himself using texting to avoid making calls whenever possible, because the iPhones volume was simply not loud enough for him to hear conversations clearly.

 

Daves daughter reached out to FTRI with questions about the Clarity XLCgo Cell Phone Amplifier, hoping it might be easy enough for her father to operate.  Both father and daughter were delighted to learn that the XLCgo connects to smart phones by Bluetooth quite easily, and is designed to be used both at home and on the go.  Once Dave had paired his iPhone to the XLCgo and realized he could once again enjoy conversations over the phone, there was no looking back for him.

 


Maria and Her Captioned Telephone

 

Maria, a 62-year-old librarian, was diagnosed with profound hearing loss, which made phone conversations nearly impossible.  This posed a significant challenge in her life, where communicating over the phone was essential for both personal and professional reasons.  Feeling isolated and frustrated, Maria turned to FTRI for a solution.

 

FTRI provided Maria with a captioned telephone.  This device transformed her ability to communicate. The real-time captions allowed her to read conversations, ensuring she could understand every word spoken.  Saving call transcripts for future reference became routine for her, especially for calls with her doctor to discuss medications. The captioned phone improved her life by restoring her sense of independence, safety, and competence.

 


Sam and His TTY Device

 

Sam, a 45-year-old software developer, was born with a severe speech impairment. Communicating over the phone was always a daunting task for him, often requiring the assistance of a family member or colleague. This dependency made Sam feel self-conscious and restricted his ability to handle personal and professional

matters independently.

 

FTRI introduced Sam to a TTY device and the Florida Relay Service, which revolutionized his communication experience.  The TTY allowed Sam to type his messages, which were then converted into voice for the person on the other end of the line by the Relay Service.  Likewise, he received typed responses that he could read. This device gave Sam the autonomy he craved, enabling him to

manage personal communications without assistance. The TTY device empowered

 

Sam, boosting his confidence and fostering a greater sense of independence.


The Broader Impact of FTRI

The stories of Jack, Dave, Maria, and Sam are just a few examples of how FTRI specialized phones are transforming lives across Florida. By providing these devices at no cost, FTRI is removing financial barriers that might otherwise prevent individuals from accessing essential communication tools. This initiative is fostering inclusivity, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their impairments, can stay connected with the world around them.

 

Moreover, FTRI's eorts extend beyond just providing devices. The organization also oers training and support to help users get the most out of their specialized phones. This comprehensive approach ensures that individuals are not only equipped with the necessary tools but are also confident in using them eectively.

 

To learn more about FTRIs Equipment Distribution Program, visit www.ftri.org, or call 800-222-3448.

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Local Services By This Author

FL Telecommunications Relay, Inc.

Hearing/Deaf Products 1820 East Park Avenue, Tallahassee, Florida, 32301

We are a statewide non profit 501(c)3 organization that administers the Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program for citizens of Florida who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf/Blind and Speech Disabled.

FL Telecommunications Relay, Inc.

Hearing/Deaf Products 1860 Boy Scout Drive, Fort Myers, Florida, 33907

We are a statewide non profit 501(c)3 organization that administers the Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program for citizens of Florida who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf/Blind and Speech Disabled.