Telecommunications Device for the Deaf

2021-05-21 10:24:50
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The term telecommunication is used to describe the process of the transmission of sounds, signs, writings, signals, images as well messages. This is performed through radio, an electromagnetic system or a wire optical system. For telecommunication to take place, there must be an exchange of information between two or more persons via the use of technology. Such messages are transmitted either through cables, electromagnetic radiation or electrically over physical media. This essay discusses the history of telecommunication, devices that were available in the past, what is available now and what is going to be available in the future. The essay also discusses the emergency preparedness measures that should be adopted when using telecommunication devices, the devices that the deaf community has used over the history of telecommunications and their cost implications.

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Telecommunications Device

The usage of the telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) has been in existence for several decades. In some nations, the TDD is also referred to as a tele-printer. It is an electronic device that can be employed for text communication by a deaf person over a telephone line. In most cases, a tele-printer is designed for use by persons who may either have a hearing problem or a speech impairment. It is also called teletypewriter (TTY) or a text-phone in the United Kingdom (Pacific ADA Center). The device is the size of a laptop computer with a QWERTY keyboard as well as a small LED, VFD or LCD display. The TDD machine has a spool of paper on which various texts during a communication are printed.

History of TDDs

What Was Available in The Past

The first TTY was developed by Robert H. Weitbrecht in 1964 CITATION Lan16 \l 1033 (Lang). He was a deaf scientist who developed an audio coupler enhanced TTY that could be used for Baudot transmission. The Baudot teletypewriter machines became famous in the same year when AT&T, as well as the Western Union, adopted its usage. In 1969 Lee Brody developed a New York and New Jersey based TTY, which enabled the deaf and blind persons to have an inexpensive TTY in their homes. In addition, Brody later developed the first Braille TTY in 1976. In 1977 the SRI International was granted $375,000 in order to help them develop an ultra-portable TTY CITATION TDI16 \l 1033 (TDI). Although the prototype of the ultra-portable TTY was developed, it was not economical to be adopted for mass production.

Between 1985 and 1986, TTY/ASCII modems were developed by various companies such as Ultratec, Audiobionics as well as Integrated Microcomputer Systems incorporation. The devices had digital circuits that could be integrated into the analogue hearing aids. Also, Ultratec developed a TTY payphone that could be used in schools and airports among other public institutions. In 1990, ISDN Corporation developed a technology that enabled the use of video phones in communication. This new technology was a great milestone that contributed immensely to the development of the forms of video phones available today.

What Is Available Today

In the 1990s, the world entered into a new period of telecommunication advancement. The era was marked by the release of new and advanced telecommunication devices. Such devices included interactive telephone systems, wireless services as well pagers among others. The release of such devices made the consumers who had disabilities to lobby for a legislation that would ensure that they also attained access to such new devices. This led to the creation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Congress passed the Act on January 8, 1996 CITATION FCC13 \l 1033 (FCC). Section 255 of the Act mandated that all manufactures of the telecommunication devices and communication service providers could only create devices and services that were equally accessible to persons living with disabilities.

In 1995 Sprint Corporation conducted the first successful trials of video relay communication. In 1996, portable TTYs and in-the-ear hearing aids were developed. In 1997 wireless communication devices for the deaf were also developed. In addition, in 2001 the ISDN developed a modern broadband internet service that gained popularity among numerous American households. This technology enabled the creation of the first digital wireless handset in the United States. By 2013, mobile devices applications in IPhone and IPad among other portable devices became popular among the deaf community. This is because it allowed them to make video calls easily via the video conferencing technology.

Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf Available Today

Voice Carry Over is a popular method of calling used by persons who have hearing impairment or deaf. It is also abbreviated as VCO, and it permits deaf persons to speak with other persons who can hear. For it to work, it requires a relay operator to type all the words spoken by a hearing person. The typed words then appear as a text on a TDD screen on the phone used by the deaf. A deaf person can then read the message on the TDD and respond. Captioned telephones are also used today by persons with hearing impairment for communication. It is a telephone that has an in-built screen display that illustrates all the words spoken by the other person on a call.

Captioned calls are also referred to as Cap-Tel phones, and they are largely manufactured by Ultratec Corporation. In addition, today, people also use T-Mobile Sidekicks. They are popular cellphones that have also gained popularity among the deaf community. The cellphones feature a keyboard that makes typing easy and fast. The cellphones have IP video relay technology, which facilitates video conferencing among persons with hearing impairments. The cellphone employs the services of a video interpreter for it to function. In addition, with the increased internet connectivity among numerous nations around the world, the deaf persons have also been able to use online video conferencing applications for communication. Such applications include the IM, Skype, and social media platforms among others.

Cost Implications

Unlike in the past, the cost of using telecommunication devices and services by persons with hearing impairment has remarkably reduced. This is because, today, it is possible for a deaf person to have a complete conversation with a different person over the internet. In some cases, internet connectivity is availed at home, school or the workplace for free. This makes it easily accessible to persons with a hearing impairment, and it can thus be employed for communication. For this reason, the advancement in the ICT sector has immensely reduced the burden of cost when making communication using telecommunication devices for the deaf.

Emergency Preparedness Measures When Using Telecommunication Devices

Over the last five decades, the usage of mobile telecommunication devices has increased tremendously in numerous nations around the world. This increase has been accompanied by an equal increase in research on the potential side effects of using telecommunications devices. As such, essential emergency preparedness measures must be adopted in order to control and prevent future undesirable outcomes that may be attained by using telecommunication devices.

The first risk attributed to the usage of telecommunications devices is the risk of exposure to phone radiation. According to past research, long-term usage of telecommunication devices may expose the users to high radiofrequency radiation (RFR). The waves emitted though RFR may affect the cognitive functions in humans in the long run. The International Commission For Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has created some polices that could be used as emergency preparedness measures when using the telecommunications devices CITATION ICN16 \l 1033 (ICNIRP). Today, the ICNIRP policies have been adopted in more than eighty countries situated in different parts of the world.

What Is to Happen in The Future?

The ICT sector is constantly and continuously evolving. This is because of the increased efficiency in transmission of information over the internet as a tool of communication. As such, with the increased innovation on the usage of the Internet, more scientifically enhanced telecommunications devices for the deaf will be developed. Some of such devices will not require an interpreter. Instead, they will have their own voice recognition software that can decode an audio content from a persons voice and then transmit it to a deaf person as a text on an LCD screen. This will greatly enhance the process of communication among the persons in the deaf community with their friends and loved ones who can speak.


In summary, telecommunication is the process of the transmission of sounds, signs, writings, signals, images as well messages. Telecommunication devices for the deaf have immensely evolved over the last five decades. The first TTY was developed by Robert H. Weitbrecht in 1964. It was an audio coupler enhanced TTY that could be used for Baudot transmission. Nevertheless, with the advancement in the ICT sector today, numerous persons affected by deafness or hearing impairment have been able to use online video conferencing applications for communication. Such applications include the IM, Skype, and social media platforms among others. The applications have immensely reduced the cost of acquiring and using the telecommunication devices for the deaf.

Works Cited

FCC. Telecommunications Act of 1996. 20 June 2013. 29 October 2016. <>.

ICNIRP. Workshops . 2016. 29 October 2016. <>.

Lang, Harry G. "A Phone of Our Own: 2:4." Gallaudet University Press News 30 July 2016. 29 October 2016. <>.

Pacific ADA Center . Teletypewriter (TTY) & Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD). 2016. 29 October 2016. <>.

TDI, Telecommunications for the Deaf. History: Telecommunications Access Milestones. 2016. 29 October 2016. <>.

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