Ensuring Telecommunication Access to County programs services and Activities

Posted on August 13, 2021

County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Accessibility Guidance Bulletin #6

Telecommunication Relay Services-Dial 711

Ensuring Telecommunication Access to County programs services and Activities

In order to ensure that individuals who require telecommunication access assistance are able to access County programs, services and activities via telephone, the County will place information regarding access to the California Relay Service on all County letterheads, business cards, publications, notices, and websites. One of the following statements is required:

California Relay Service (Dial 711)
CRS 711.


Telecommunications relay services are the answer to the following questions:

  • How can deaf or speech-impaired individuals communicate with one another or with others w ho have no TTY?
  • How can someone communicate on a telephone with someone who can only communicate with a TTY?
  • How can someone speak on the phone with someone who has a speech disability?

The 711 California Relay Service is used to facilitate communication between standard telephone and TTY users, and the Speech-to-Speech service is used to facilitate telephone conversations with those who have speech disabilities.


The California Relay Service (CRS) is a service designated for people who live or work in California and either use a TTY or want to communicate with someone who does. CRS provides easy and convenient access to telephone service through professionally trained Communication Assistants (CAs). CAs assist callers by first completing their calls, then staying on the line to relay messages c:\users\jwilson\desktop\dpw web stuff\accessibility\guidance #6 – telecommunication relay services – dial 711 (rev. 04.13).doc electronically by typing on a TTY or by voicing information to hearing parties. CAs provide exact translations of what they hear and voice exactly what is typed, unless the caller directs them otherwise.

The Relay Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the length or number of calls placed. There is no additional cost for the service; calls are billed at regular rates.

The State of California began using a relay service before the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990. Title IV of the ADA requires all telecommunications common carriers (telephone companies) to provide, or contract to provide, interstate Telecommunications Relay Services.


CRS enables hearing people using a standard telephone to communicate with people who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, or speech disabled, and use a TTY or a specially equipped personal computer, and vice versa.

A person who is deaf-blind may use either a TTY (often with a larger visual display) or a TeleBraille device (with refreshable Braille display). A person who is speech-disabled types his/her conversation for the Communication Assistant to read to the standard telephone user, but can listen to the person being called with Hearing Carry Over service (also known HCO). A person who is deaf, but has speech abilities can speak to the telephone headset and the Communication Assistant will type what the hearing party says to the deaf caller on a TTY screen. This is called Voice Carry Over (VCO).

These conversations take place in real time. By law, all calls are handled in strict confidence. No records of any calls are kept and CAs may not divulge the contents of any conversation.

California Relay Service Telephone Numbers
711 (Voice/TTY), 800-735-2929 (TTY only), or 800-735-2922 (Voice)

How to make a 7-1-1 California Relay Service call to someone with a TTY

  • Call the California Relay Service by dialing 711. Tell the CA the number you wish to call and the person to whom you wish to speak.
  • Wait briefly while the CA dials the TTY user. After making the connection, the CA will tell the TTY user that this is a relay call.
  • As with any telephone call, you and the TTY user take turns. The CA will voice the TTY user’s words to you, and will type your words on the TTY for the TTY user.
  • It is impolite to interrupt the other person while talking via TTY. It is respectful to be brief and to the point, taking breaks to give the other person a chance to respond.
  • During the conversation, each time you finish with your turn and wish to hear from the other person, say “go ahead” or “GA” (like saying “over” in radio talk).
  • For many deaf people, English is their second language. Some may use what seem to be awkward phrases, misspelled words, or may communicate thoughts and ideas without using Standard English grammar, syntax, or sentence structure. Take care to be respectful and try to avoid jargon, and use language that the caller will be able to understand, depending on his or her facility with English.
  • The CA will relay what you say to the TTY user verbatim. Be sure to talk directly to your caller, not to the CA. For example, say, “How are you today?” rather than, “Ask him how he is today.”
  • At the end of the conversation, you or the TTY user say “GA to SK” (TTY shorthand for “Stop Keying”). If also finished, the other person will say “SK” and you both can hang up.
  • A Relay Service call will likely take a bit longer than a standard telephone call. Be sure to set aside sufficient time for your call.
  • Calls with TeleBraille users may take longer than the average Relay Service call. The TeleBraille unit works like a TTY, but uses a Braille display that takes longer to read than a visual output TTY screen. Be patient if the person you are calling takes a little while to respond.

Anyone may access this service, either the individual with a speech disability or someone who would like to telephone a person with a speech disability. Either party can dial toll-free 24 hours a day to reach a trained operator who is familiar with many speech patterns and has acute listening skills. This STS Communication Assistant (CA) then completes the connection by calling the other individual. The CA is there to listen to messages from the person with a speech disability, and re-voice that message to the other party to the conversation. In this way, telephone communication will be clear and accessible to both individuals.

Speech-to-Speech Service Telephone Numbers
711 or 800-854-7784
Some individuals with speech-related disabilities may have difficulty being understood in standard telephone conversations, particularly if the callers are not  well known to each other. Speech-to-Speech users may have Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, ALS, muscular dystrophy, or are people who stutter or have had a laryngectomy. Speech-to-Speech may also be useful for those who use speech synthesizers. This Speech-to-Speech service provides an intermediary “communication assistant” to facilitate effective telephone conversations.

People who can speak clearly but may not be able to hear telephone conversations can also place or receive calls through the relay service. This type of relay call is Voice Carry Over because the hard of hearing person’s voice is “carried over” to the other party. In this category, no typing is required, except by a Communication Assistant (CA). The CA types everything that the other person says and the words appear as text on the VCO user’s TTY or on a VCO phone.

People who can hear but may not be able to speak clearly on the phone can also place or receive calls using the relay service. This type of relay call is Hearing Carry Over because the person with a speech disability is able to hear the other party’s voice. HCO users can type what they want to say using a TTY. As is the case with other relay service calls, the Communications Assistant then reads their words to the person they called.

These services are available in either English or Spanish.
For additional information, please contact:
County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Marin Civic Center, Room 304
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 473-4381 (Voice/CRS dial 711)
(415) 473-3799 FAX
disabilityaccess@marincounty.org (e-mail)
http://www.marincounty.org/depts/pw/divisions/disability-access (website)

Great thanks to the City and County of San Francisco, Mayor’s Office on Disability for providing text for this Guidance Bulletin.

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