Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS)

Telecommunication Relay Service (background article.

">TRS) is a family of free services that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech impaired independently place and receive phone calls.  A communication assistant (CA) "translates" between a text or sign language user on one side and a voice telephone user on the other.

This article covers the various types of relay services and how to use them.

background article.

">TRS includes:

  • Text relay service, with a TTY user on one side of the call.  The CA types what is spoken, and speaks what is typed.
  • Text relay service, with a captioned telephone user on one side of the call. The CA types what is spoken, and the captioned telephone user speaks during his/her turn in the conversation.
  • Video relay service (Background Article on Relay.

    ">VRS), with a sign language user on a videophone on one side of the call.  The CA is a qualified and fluent American Sign Language interpreter, translating between speech and sign language for the 2 participants on the call.
  • Speech-to-Speech (STS), with a hearing person with a speech impairment on one side of the call.  The CA is trained to understand impaired speech.

There are additional features available to meet the needs and preferences of different users.  These services are now available over the Internet as well as through conventional phone lines; new technological features are added all the time.

If you receive a TRS call, the CA will introduce and explain the service.  You may have to take turns in the conversation.  Speak as if you are directly communicating with the person on the other end rather than the CA.

To place a text relay call, dial 711 and be prepared to tell the CA the number you want to reach.

In California, the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program both manages the California Relay Service and distributes free equipment for its use.  Your organization may qualify for free equipment.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees TRS nationally, including all VRS.

Some libraries have installed software on their webcam-equipped public Internet workstations so that patrons can place sign language calls.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert