One item that you could have seen at some point in a Deaf/HOH household is called a Teletypewriter or TTY. This item is still used today, but many are converting over to some of the newer technology available. Now what is a teletypewriter you may ask? It is an electronic device resembling a typewriter that is used to sent and receive messages. Through all of my research it appears that the earliest TTY was available in the late 1800’s. There are many websites and books out there that you can find that will you learn a lot about the TTY. There were many different versions other there. Some may also be wondering how exactly does it work? The basic idea is that you have a person wanting to connect with another. You would place the receiver of the Telephone on the TTY. If you are wanting to talk to a hearing person then the TTY would connect to an operator and the operator would talk to the hearing person and respond by typing to the Deaf person. Everything the hearing person is saying will be displayed on the screen of the TTY for the Deaf person to read. When they Deaf person would want to respond they would type their thoughts and the interpreter would read it back to the hearing person. They would go back and forth until the conversation was complete.
If the conversation was between two Deaf people using TTY then they would be able to write back and forth to each other without an interpreter. This technology made it so wonderful that two Deaf people could communicate with each other when they weren’t in the same room. How many of you have a TTY or have seen on? Have you talked to a person that was using TTY? Please share some of the stories you may have below. If I could give you any tips about how to communication with someone using a TTY it is this. Be sure to talk as if you are talking to them verbally. Do not talk to the interpreter/operator directly saying, “Tell him I said…” Honestly anytime you use an interpreter you should also be sure to express yourself to the Deaf person directly.
Now many people have converted from using the TTY to using other types of technology such as the video phone, webcam, texting through cell phones, and through social media on the computer. I’m curious how many people still keep have their TTY at home just in case they will need to use it? If you have never used or seen one before just think it is pretty much like how you text to on your cell phone. Think about if you had to use your cell phone to talk to a Deaf person, but had an operator or interpreter linking your conversation. How would you feel if that is how you had to talk to others when not in the same place?
Experience what it is like to use a TTY definitely will change your views on a few things. The video phone has pretty much the same concept. If you are hearing you are talking on the phone to an interpreter and the interpreter is on video using sign language with the Deaf person. If there were two Deaf people that both knew sign on the video phone they could communicate directly with each other without the interpreter. The TTY and Video Phone concept is definitely very similar, but many people prefer the video phone. Some people may wonder why especially with texting being so big now days. Many Deaf people prefer to use Sign Language to communicate. Of course as I have told you all before that this may not be the same for every Deaf person out there, but it is true in many cases that I personally am aware of.
To my Deaf followers, which method of communication would prefer if you had to communicate with someone far away? TTY, Video Phone, texting, webcam, or social media?
To my hearing followers, if you were Deaf which method do you feel you would prefer and why? As a hearing person what method do you prefer? Phone Call, texting, webcam, or social media?
Please leave a comment below and return next week when I’ll discuss other forms of technology that effect the daily lives of many Deaf/Hard of Hearing people out there. I’m sure many of you could guess what those are. To be continued…