March 5, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 10


DSHS provides free or low-cost voice recognition phones for those with hearing impairment

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

The state is providing free voice-recognition phones for deaf or hard-of-hearing people.

Photo courtesy of DSHS

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The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is giving out telephones that use voice-recognition technology to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The service takes spoken words and translates them into text. DSHS provides telephones with a text screen that displays the conversations for people to read and reply instantly. The state also provides equipment for people to speak through a relay service in which interpreters listen to callers and relay the written message to the phones.

“It’s very popular with people who are hard of hearing or late-deafened but there are many others who are not aware of this service that is available to them,” said Eric Raff, director of the DSHS Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

About 20,000 people in Washington rely on similar phones to make 45,000 calls per month, Raff said.

DSHS is providing the phones for free or at a discount to low-income residents in Washington. The price is based on a person’s income.

The state provides equipment demonstrations around the state, including in Seattle, Bellingham, Tacoma and Spokane.

For more information and to download an application, visit



Gentlemen, Plse provide contact information for this phone I am very hard of hearing and cannot currently use a phone .

john cooper | submitted on 03/14/2014, 9:34am

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