Telephone Access for Persons with Speech Disabilities

How do you talk to a friend who lives in another part of the city, order a pizza, or tell the 911 operator what kind of help you need? Until now, many Americans with a speech disability have faced formidable obstacles to telephone use, but a new service called Speech to Speech is overturning this barrier.

Speech to Speech Relay (STS) is a service mandated by the Federal Communications Commission that enables people with a speech disability to use their own voice or a communication device to make a phone call. All 50 states and District of Columbia are mandated to provide STS by March 1, 2001. This service, called Speech to Speech (STS) provides communication assistants (CAs) for people with difficulty being understood by the public on the telephone. Bob Segalman, Ph.D. has cerebral palsy and developed the concept of STS. Now it makes telephone use much easier for him. An STS phone call is a relayed call. That means a communication assistant in a three-way-call environment relays the speech of one person to the other. In relay jargon, the person who relays the call is known as a Communication Assistant (C.A.). C.A.'s are specially trained to be able to understand the speech of a wide variety of speakers whose speech disability may range from mild to severe. The C.A. facilitates the STS call by listening to the speaker with a speech disability and then restating what that caller has said word-for-word. The term for this verbatim restating of the speech is revoicing.

People with speech disabilities can dial toll free to reach a trained CA who is familiar with many speech patterns and has excellent language recognition skills.

To get more information:

Dr. Bob Segalman can be reached by dialing 711, asking for speech to speech, and then asking for 916-362-0982.