Phone Access for Hurricane Evacuees with Speech Disabilities

From Deaf Network of Texas: Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita who have a speech disability need to know that they can use a free telephone service 24 hours a day. This service, called “Speech to Speech” (STS), provides communication assistants (CAs) for people who have difficulty being understood on the telephone. STS is a form of relay service.
STS is provided through the TTY relay in each state. Unlike TTY, STS enables people with speech disabilities to communicate by voice through a CA as many people with speech disabilities have difficulty typing.
People with speech disabilities can dial toll free to reach a patient, specially trained CA who is familiar with many speech patterns and has excellent language recognition skills. This STS CA places telephone calls for them and repeats their words exactly in a 3-way calling environment. Every month users make about 12,000 calls nationally. STS is the only way for many people to communicate by telephone with people who are not accustomed to their speech.
Many STS users have Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy or stroke. Other users stutter or have had a laryngectomy or other conditions affecting clarity of speech.
STS also helps people who use speech synthesizers (also called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. AAC users may ask the STS CA to set up the call, negotiate the menu, introduce the call explaining AAC and then go into the background. This enables AAC users to communicate independently once the other party is on the line.
Bob Segalman, Ph.D. has cerebral palsy and developed the concept of STS. Now it makes telephone use much easier for him. To try out STS, report problems or get more information: Call 800-854-7784 and ask for Dr. Bob Segalman (direct 916-362-0982). You may also visit the STS website: or contact Katherine Keller at to place you on the STS List Serve.
For a list of U. S. Speech-to-Speech access numbers go to:

You can also access STS by dialing 711 and asking for Speech to Speech. If the communications assistant can not place a call for you, please let Bob ( know stating your name, date and time of call, location, and telephone number.