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How to use a TTY and the Telephone Relay Service

TTY (Teletypewriter) is a device that allows users to send typed messages across phone lines. Many people who are Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or who are deafblind may use TTYs to call other individuals.

This device generally has a keyboard and display that lets the user send and receive typed messages over telephone lines. People who are deafblind may use an additional large print or Braille display to read the typed messages.

A stand-alone TTY must communicate with another TTY. TTY users can directly call other TTY numbers or they can call a Relay Service. The Relay Service operator will receive the messages on a TTY and relay the messages, by standard phone, to a person who does not have a TTY. A standard phone user can also place a call through the Relay Service operator to a TTY user.

If your business or organization has a TTY, learn how to operate the device.

To make a TTY call:

  • Push the "ON" switch.
  • Push the DISPLAY switch if you wish to use the screen alone, or the PRINT switch if you want what is typed both on screen and in print.
  • Place the telephone receiver on the TTY's rubber receptacles. Make sure that the receiver is firmly in place and that the telephone's receiver cord is on the LEFT side of the TTY.
  • Check the telephone indicator light; if it is lit, you have the line.
  • Dial the number, and watch the telephone light; if it is flashing slowly, this indicates that the device on the other end is ringing.
  • When the person you are calling answers, you will see a phrase appear on the screen such as: "Hello, this is Richard GA." The "GA" stands for Go Ahead -- Don't forget to use "GA" whenever you have finished what you are saying, so that the other person will know it is his/her turn.
  • When you wish the call to end and you wish to advise the other person, type GA or SK ("Stop keying"). The person will respond by "SK" if he/she agrees. Be courteous - wait until the other person indicates "SK" before hanging up.


  • The person who receives the call is always the one who starts typing first.
  • Always switch the TTY "OFF" as soon as you have finished the call. 

How to communicate using the Relay Service


  • Phone the Relay Service number (1-800-855-0511).
  • Tell the operator your name, the name of the person you are calling, and the number you wish to reach.
  • The operator will make the call for you. You speak to the operator as if you were talking directly to the person you are calling. For example, say "Hi, How are you doing?" Do not say: "Tell him I said hello."
  • Remember to say "Go Ahead" when you finish speaking, so the person on the other end will know it is their turn to speak.
  • If you normally speak very quickly, the operator may ask you to speak more slowly so your message can be typed while you are speaking.  There will be brief silences as the operator types to the TTY user and the user replies.


You can find out more about this service at: