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December 7, 2002

Bill provides help for disabled in accessing telecommunications

From: Shamokin News Item, PA - 07 Dec 2002

HARRISBURG - Pennsylvanians who require technology to independently access telecommunications services will be eligible for free devices with the recent passage of a bill sponsored by state Rep. Merle Phillips, R-108.
The bill, which is presently awaiting Gov. Mark Schweiker's signature, amends the Dual Party Relay Service and Telecommunication Device Distribution Program Act, Act 34 of 1995, by expanding the definition of 'persons with a disability' to provide free telecommunication devices to any Pennsylvania resident with a certified disability who needs the technology to communicate.
A TTY is a device used by persons who are deaf, blind, hard-of-hearing, hearing impaired or speech impaired. It consists of a keyboard, display screen and a modem that moves the electrical signals, produced by the letters on the keyboard, through telephone lines. The device 'rings' via flashing lights. When the signals reach their destination they are converted back into letters that appear on a display screen or are printed out or both. The device costs between $300 and $600.
With the enactment of Act 34, deaf people and those who are hard of hearing and persons with speech and language disorders, a relay service was provided that allowed them to communicate by telephone and assisting technology. The act also established the Telecommunications Device Distribution Program to provide the specialized telecommunications devices, such as text telephones and amplifers.

© The News Item 2002