Maryland Relay Provides Free Assistive Telephone Equipment ~ State Program Celebrates 10 years of Service ~
The Ehrlich-Steele Administration is proud to announce the 10th Anniversary of the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program which provides free assistive equipment for qualifying Marylanders with disabilities.
Richard of Allegany County can easily use his telephone to call for help in an emergency — without even using his hands. Even though Richard is a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair, he can routinely make calls to friends, family members and service providers. He says his special device “works very nicely. I can hit one button and go with it!” The great news is that Richard’s special telephone was free.
The Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program understands the communication challenges of people with disabilities, and for the last decade, has provided free telephone equipment to help Marylanders stay connected and independent. For people with a hearing loss or other disabilities, the daily task of using the telephone can be daunting — or even impossible.
Together, Maryland Relay and the MAT program serve customers who are Deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, speech or mobility disabled. Today’s advanced telecommunication technology offers a solution for people who cannot use a standard telephone. Devices such as amplified phones, voice-activated dialers, and TTY machines can change lives by opening the doors of communication.
A recent addition to the equipment distributed by the MAT program is the Captioned Telephone (CapTel). It works as an amplified phone, but also displays the caller’s words in text across a bright screen on the phone. Patricia, a customer who is hard of hearing said, “I use the CapTel phone for my business calls. I can see who is calling and then I turn the captions ON if I need them.” Captioned conversations are more natural because spoken words go through a captioning service for the CapTel phone user to read.
To be considered for the program, applicants must:
– Be a Maryland resident
– Be at least 5 years old, (persons under 18 must have application signed by parent or legal guardian)
– Be a recipient of SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), TCA (Temporary Cash Assistance), or TDAP (Temporary Disability Assistance Program) benefits.
– Be certified as having one of the following disabilities: mobility, blind, low vision, cognitive, DeafBlind, speech, deaf or hard of hearing, and have difficulty using a standard telephone.
– Have telephone service in the home or apply for phone service
Approval may be granted on a case-by-case basis to applicants who are not receiving the benefits listed above. Please contact the MAT program (see below) to apply as a “Non-Tradition/ Hardship” case. After qualification, applicants will receive an equipment assessment to determine which device will satisfy his or her specific communication needs. Evaluation sites are set-up throughout the state to provide access for residents of every county.
Maryland Relay and the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications program continue to reach out into the community to encourage open communication and independence for people with disabilities. For an application and more information about the MAT program, please contact: