"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin

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Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Just Good Manners

I have a serious pet peeve when it comes to telephone manners. I never noticed this until I lost so much hearing I needed to use a relay system to make telephone calls. There are a couple of systems out there, each state has its own. Then there is the relay I use, the Cap Tel relay which users of Captioned Telephones use, or the mobile app for IPhone, Hamilton Cap Tel Relay Service.

The Cap Tel relay system is for people who use their own voice. My phone dials up the relay system and gets a Calling Agent for me who then calls the person I want to reach. When the person answers the phone, there is a pause on THEIR end of the phone while the Calling Agent types to me the phone has been answered, what was said, and whether it is male or female. This takes a few moments while they type the information to me and then I read the captions. The only problem I have is that people expect someone to start speaking right away, and when there is a pause, they hang up. When calling back, they get frustrated and short and sometimes don't answer after that.

I can no longer leave messages on answering machines, or automated answering systems, because the delay causes the systems to think no one is there. They only allow a few seconds, then automatically hang up on us. Ironically, the phone companies are the worst with their automated systems. They are totally inaccessible.

Because I use a Cap Tel system I can't access agencies that use TTY or TDD's only (text teletype or teletext device). The system is incompatible. Forget about locating a public pay TTY phone in PA. I've not found one yet. In Oregon, there were several pay phones around the city that had a tty phone under the standard pay phone.

I love my Cap Tel app. There are still problems I've not worked out as yet. I don't catch incoming calls, and I can't access my voice mail. I tell people who have my number not to leave a message. In fact, just text me and I'll call you. That way they know I'm calling and expect the delay while the Calling Agent sets up the call.

Next time your phone rings and no one speaks right away, don't assume it's a prank call or worse, a breather on the line. Be patient and see if it is a genuine call from someone who just has to use the phone a little differently from you. Someday, you may be the one depending on this kind of phone and calling service. Besides all that, it is just good manners to be patient with your callers and allow them the extra moment.


  1. I understand about that. i am deaf and i use relay service to call hearing people. But sometimes people hang up the phone when the interpreter try to explain them about the relay service. It caused me not to use it unless i need it badly. I wish hearing people would understand how hard we are trying to communicate with them. They take for granted for being able to talk on the phone without relaying interpreters.

  2. Where I used to live, I used to go to the various places that had tty or tdd machines, such as the hospital, etc. and made sure they were working. I would educate the people behind the desk about the relay calls they may receive. Once they are educated, it is no problem. When the medical center learned about relay calls, they were always patient with phone calls. It's a matter of educating the public somehow. I would like to see a non-profit educational organization set up in this area that would do just that for local businesses. We have a population here of 4,000 Deaf and hearing impaired people in the Lancaster area, THAT WE KNOW OF. Many businesses aren't getting valuable customers or they are losing business because they aren't accessible or accommodating. I was appalled when more than one medical center hung up on me the first time I called, and even more appalled for some services, appointments are made by telephone calls only.

    It is frustrating. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment. Maybe we can come up with ideas how to educate "the hearing" population and see some positive changes.