Michigan’s Relay Service


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

 flow chart showing a call through a TTY user, through a communication assistant and ending with the voice caller

Last week, I began a search to see if Michigan Disability Rights Coalition had a TTY (a text telephone) to communicate to callers who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  As the Assistive Technology Information Coordinator, I was embarrassed that I didn’t already know this.  After some detective work, I learned that we had a TTY but it stopped working.  As technology changes, like other organizations, we had chosen not to replace it but ask callers to use the Michigan Relay Service, who could provide more services than just TTY to TTY calls.  By simply dialing 711 you are automatically connected with the service. When you connect with The Michigan  Relay Services , a Communication Assistant (CA) will facilitate your call – promptly, professionally and accurately. All relay calls are confidential and no records are kept of relay conversations Depending on you disability, speaking and hearing abilities, different services are available.  For example:

 TTY (Text Telephone)
TTY is the most common way to connect to Relay, allowing people who are deaf or hard of hearing to type their messages and read the other party’s responses.

VCO (Voice Carry Over) VCO is an effective service for people who have hearing loss and use their voice on the phone. VCO users speak directly to the person being called and, through specialized equipment, read what is spoken by the other party.

HCO (Hearing Carry Over) HCO is especially useful for people who can hear, but who regularly or occasionally have difficulty speaking over the phone. HCO users listen directly to the person called and, through specialized equipment, type their responses to the other party.

DBS (Deaf-Blind Service)

DBS allows people with combined hearing and vision loss to place and receive telephone calls. DBS users type their messages and read the other party’s responses, typed by the CA, on a braille display.

STS (Speech-to-Speech)

STS is especially useful for people who have difficulty speaking or being understood on the telephone. STS Relay involves specially trained Communication Assistants (CA) who are familiar with the speech patterns of a wide variety of individuals who have difficulty being understood. The CA repeats the STS user’s side of the telephone conversation as needed, to ensure that the entire conversation is understood.

Captioned Telephone (CapTel® ) Captioned Telephone is a no cost service that allows users to listen to their phone conversations while reading word-for-word captions of what’s said to them. Through the use of a uniquely designed CapTel phone, users speak directly to the other party and listen and read the other party’s response. Captions appear on the bright, built-in display screen of the CapTel phone, just moments after the other party has spoken.


Voice Relay allows standard phone users to communicate with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking and who may use a TTY, TeleBraille, or other assistive telecommunications device. A Communication Assistant (CA) facilitates the call by relaying messages between the individuals, according to their communication needs.


All of the above services are available for Spanish speaking callers as well.

The Michigan Relay Services also allows you to set up a profile with your preferences, outlining what services you need, numbers on speed dial, your standard greeting, message for answering machines and more.

Putting my embarrassment aside, I am glad that my ignorance about having a TTY led me to learn more about the Michigan Relay Service and the variety of services they provide.  There were more services than I expected.

So, hey, 711 (call) me sometime!  Wink!


One thought on “Michigan’s Relay Service

What do you think? Let us know!