Textphones (for severely/profoundly deaf people)

If you are severely or profoundly deaf, you may wish to get a textphone. The brand name 'Minicom' is often used to describe any textphone.


                                                         A textphone (Image © RNID)

Textphones have a small display screen and keyboard, enabling you to have conversations in text.  You type what you want to say, and read what is being typed from another textphone in reply. Some textphones incorporate a voice telephone handset as well, and others are designed to be used with a separate voice telephone, if required.  If you have a textphone and want to talk to someone who has a standard (voice) telephone  only, or vice versa, you need to use a relay service – Text Relay  in the UK (external link, opens new browser window) .  You type what you want to say and a relay assistant speaks this to the other person, and their reply will be typed back to you.


                                                      Telephone relay service


Some people who have grown up using ordinary voice telephones find textphones quite daunting, especially if they are not able to type well.  For such people, RNID has developed ScreenPhone - a 'big button' phone that allows you to speak in the usual way, but on which the other person's speech appears as text on a built-in screen, after it has been relayed through the Typetalk service (see above).

While SMS texting (see above) and Internet-based chat are valuable mobile communication services, true ‘conversational’ text is unfortunately not easy on mobile phones. However, RNID's TalkByText Mobile Edition  (external link, opens in a new browser window) lets you make textphone calls from a limited range of mobile handsets.


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