How Relay Services Work
Various relay service providers exist, but they all work similarly. A person who is deaf, has speech challenges, or has visual impairments contacts a relay service through a TTY, special phone, web site, or instant messenger where an operator acts as a go-between.
A person calls the relay using a preferred method (TTY, online, etc.). The operator answers and asks for the phone number. The person provides the phone number and any other relevant information, if needed.
The operator calls the number and explains the relay service to the person called. The person called answers normally and says, “Go ahead,” when finished responding.
The operator types the response to the caller who types, speaks, or signs (depending on the type of service used) a reply in which the operator repeats to the person called. The conversation continues using this process until the end.
The call doesn’t cost anything (except for long distance and cell phone charges) as the funding comes from other sources. Long distance calls made online typically don’t involve charges.
I have a phone number that reaches me through AIM (AOL instant messenger). When the caller calls me, it’s almost like making a regular call except with delays between caller and person called speaking. The relay service requires patience, but I want to be available for clients and prospects.
Some people find the process tedious and prefer to use email, instant messaging, or another means to communicate with the caller. I try to make the communications process as easy as possible for clients and potential clients. Unfortunately, sometimes I can’t reach people because they hang up on the service thinking it’s a telemarketer.