While looking through the website for The Phone Resource, I saw that they have TDD machines. A TDD is a “Telecommunications Device for the Deaf.” They have replaced the older TTY machines which were TeleTYpe machines. So all TTYs are TDDs, but not vice versa. But the two terms are used interchangeably.
The way they usually work is the caller puts a regular phone handset into a cradle and you can send text messages over the phone. Kinda like instant messaging today, but you just call from phone to phone using a normal phone line. So people without a computer can use one of these.
If you are hearing and want to call a Deaf friend, you can use a relay service. Most states have a state funded relay where you call a number and an operator will type for you and voice what your Deaf friend says. Fancier relay services now also offer video relay. Deaf can call into the relay service using a web cam and then the operator will call your home number. You will talk on the phone like you are talking to anyone else while the operator is signing to the Deaf caller. Then the caller can sign to the operator back to you.
But, if you want to say sweet nothings to your Deaf friend, get your own TDD. You don’t want to have to work through an operator for that.
Interestingly, here in México with the Deaf we work with, they do not have TDDs. Nor do they have IM or web cams. They just use text messaging on cell phones. Text messages are relatively cheap here. Far cheaper than a $400 TDD. I doubt they have a relay service to work with. So your friend would also have to have a TDD for you to call them.
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