Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spasmodic Dysphonia and telephone phobia!

This article discusses an excellent service in Australia for people who have a hearing and or speech impairment. Countries other than Australia may have similar services.

ACE refers to Australian Communication Exchange, connecting anyone with everyone. This service in Australia is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering people who are deaf or have difficulty with hearing, speech or communication, to use the telephone. The service allows people with a hearing and or speech disability to telephone or to receive calls, anywhere. The service provides for local, interstate and overseas, telephone calls for either personal use or for business. Confidentiality is assured. Other people without hearing or speech disability use an ordinary telephone to take or return the calls.

Choices for people to utilize this telephone call service are as follows.

Type and read calls, also known as text to voice calls, allows a Relay Officer (RO) to become your ‘voice’. As you type your message/conversation on the keyboard of your phone, the RO reads your words to the other person. Listening to how the other person replies, the RO types their words back to you. You read the message on a small screen above the keyboard. Calling a person is easy. With this type of call you do not use your voice at all. You can make a call by phoning the National Relay Service (NRS), following the prompts on screen and type away.

Type and listen calls, also known as hearing carry over calls, are for people having difficulty with speech but have no problem with hearing. Whilst you type your words into your phone, the RO reads them to the person you are calling or hearing from. You listen to the other person as you would in any straight forward phone call. The only difference is, you type your side of the conversation.

Speak and read calls, also known as voice carry over calls, are for people who can not hear well but still prefer to use their own voice or a voice device. The relay officer types the other person’s conversation for you to read but then you use your voice to speak, knowing the other person is able to hear you. If you wish to telephone another person with the same disability as you have you can both use your voices but read as the RO types your words to each other. In this way you both do all the talking but the RO does all the typing for you as you read what the other person is saying.

Speak and listen calls, also known as speech to speech relay calls, are for people having difficulty speaking and or communicating but prefer to use their own voice or voice device to speak to the Relay Officer. This type of call is good for people who find others have difficulty understanding their speech on the telephone. The RO, trained and experienced in listening to people with speech impairments, is able to re-speak all or a part of your conversation to the other person if they have not understood you.

A TTY (teletypewriter) is a telephone with a small keyboard, allowing you to type a message. Keystrokes are converted into signals and transmitted via a telephone line. There are different styles of telephones, depending on your particular need.

To access a TTY telephone in Australia, you may contact the Telstra Disability Service. Your doctor or speech pathologist is able to sign the application form verifying your need for this type of service. Cost to the consumer is the same as any Telstra home telephone. You can access the National Relay Service site by clicking the link at the beginning of this article for plenty of information about the service. For people in countries other than Australia, contact your local telephone company or your disability services agency for information. However, by browsing through our Australian site you may have a more informed opinion on which type of TTY phone service you require before following it up in your own country.

I use my TTY telephone when my voice is very strained and effortful. I also use this phone following Botox treatment when my voice is very soft and breathy sounding. The phone can also be used as a regular telephone by anyone else in my home. This service is of great benefit to me, reducing that feeling of horror that goes with, 'Oh, dear God! I've actually got to use the telephone'.

I hope this information has been useful to you. Please, leave a comment if you would like to. I am happy to reply.

Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia.

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