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Speech-To-Speech Relay Service


The Speech-To-Speech Relay System assists people to make telephone calls. It is especially set-up to help people whose speech is difficult to understand on the telephone. Speech-To-Speech is available in all 50 states, look under the links tab for a list of the entry phone number for each.

Speech-To-Speech was the idea of Dr. Robert Segalman, a man with cerebral palsy usually referred to as "Dr. Bob." Click on the links tab and watch a two-part video featuring Dr. Bob that explains how the system works, and why it is important to people with differing disabilities and communication needs (several are people with intellectual/developmental disabilities).

When using Speech-To-Speech, calls are facilitated by Communication Assistants (CAs), trained individuals familiar with many different speech patterns and language recognition skills. Here is the way it works:

1)The person needing help gathers the information needed to make a call and the phone number s/he needs to call.

2)The person calls the toll-free number used in that state and is connected with a CA.

3)The person spends some time with the CA explaining the purpose of the call and shares any information that may become necessary

4)The CA places the call and begins by explaining the service and her/his role

5)The CA then facilitates the call including sharing information for the person and interpreting the person's ideas when necessary

Quality Standards for Speech-To-Speech Services:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlines "mandatory minimum standards" for each type of telecommunication service it regulates, including Speech-To-Speech. When these are not upheld, the FCC has a formal complaint process that any user may initiate. A primary standard for Speech-To-Speech services is that CAs must hold the information from calls completely confidential, other mandatory minimum standards include:

"- STS CAs must remain with a call for a minimum of 15 minutes.

- An STS CA may, at the request of the user, retain information from a particular call in order to facilitate the completion of consecutive calls.

- STS providers must offer STS users the option to maintain at the relay center a list of names and telephone numbers that the STS user commonly calls.

- STS has emergency call procedures in case a STS user calls 911."

Copied from the FCC's Fact Sheet on Speech-To-Speech services (that also explains how to make a formal complaint) viewed online on 2/9/2011 (www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/speechtospeech.html)

Contact Info:
Organization:Office of Disability Rights, US Federal Communications Commission
Address:445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554

Web Links

Watch Part One of a YouTube video about Speech-to-Speech

Watch Part Two of the YouTube video

Look up the number to access Speech-To-Speech in your state

Read the FCC's Fact Sheet on Speech-To-Speech services

Visit the homepage for the FCC's Disability Rights Office

This information was found at www.qualitymall.org