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Monday, September 9, 2013

Be Patient With Deaf and Hard of Hearing Callers

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 different systems out there and each state has its own. I use the Cap Tel relay mobile app for IPhone and 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 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 access 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,  phone companies are the worst with their automated systems. They are totally inaccessible.

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 email 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 totally agree with you. There are some companies that I get so frustrated with - I just ask my hearing family members to call for me. I'm fortunate that they don't mind, but we should not have to get to that point. The technology is available ... and these companies should be grateful for our business!! Sigh.

  2. Very true about your situation. When the business person hang up on me when he/she hears "Relaying Service...", I have to call again and inform the relaying operator that I, hearing impaired, have important message...". Louise Casias, New Mexico

    1. Thank you, Anonymous and Louise for sharing your comments here. I'm hopeful that changes can be made as we move forward with technology and information. One if the things we can do is talk about it and join agencies and boards that relate to our needs and work together for solutions. I highly recommend joining your State's Telecommunication's Relay Service Advisory Board, which is a sub committee of the Public Utilities Commission. They are the heartbeat of finding solutions for beat service and improvements. Together, we can all add to the solution.

  3. Hi. I'm a CART Captioner, so not D/HH. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of computer-generated sales calls, whether a live person on the other end or a recording, when I answer there is quite a lag, and then somebody comes on the line to solicit whatever. So we've come to expect, I believe, that when we hearing folk hear no one answering our "hello" right away, it's somebody we don't want to talk to in the first place. Just my two cents. I don't even answer my land line anymore.
    My mother (late-deafened) has the internet-based CapTel, no need for relay if you voice for yourself. It's not free, but there may still be subsidies in place to reduce the price. You probably know all about that anyway, but it may be new information for one of your readers. I really wanted to cast some light on why business or agency representatives may be hanging up on the relay agent. And I may be totally off-base... Jane (SoCal)

    1. Hi, Jane,

      Thank you for dropping in and responding.

      Most CapTel phones are still free in many states, and the app is certainly free. When I was in school, we actually had a segment in communications regarding phone etiquette.

      I use my voice with the app, but even so, people have gotten incredibly impatient these past few years with callers. There are over 48 million people with hearing loss and deafness, and businesses are going to be losing a lot of customers due to their employees impatience and rudeness. I think each company should have communications training along with deaf awareness and telephone etiquette. Really, there is no excuse for this.