Using a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TTY/TDD)

  • A TTY/TDD is an assistive device that allows people who are deaf and hard of hearing to communicate on the phone.
  • Messages are typed and sent through the phone using a special keyboard/communication device.
  • People with hearing loss or speech difficulties are able to communicate over telephone lines by connecting a telephone with a typewriter-like terminal called a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD/TTY).
  • The device has a keyboard, a display screen, and a specialized modem that sends and receives TDD/TTY tones.
  • A user types a message on the terminal, generating tones that are sent over telephone lines to the receiving terminal.
  • These tones are then converted by the receiving terminal into a written message, which is displayed on the call recipient's screen.
  • A rapid clinking sound after you answer the phone indicates a TTY/TDD call or

  • No sound or voice at all (it may still be a TTY/TDD call)

It is difficult to break the habit of hanging up when you don't get a quick response, but it is critical that everyone who has a TTY/TDD in his or her office to be aware of this. All the knowledge in the world about how to use a TTY/TDD won't do any good if the call never goes through!

  1. Turn on the TTY/TDD.

  2. Place your phone receiver on the TTY/TDD (picture on TTY/TDD will show you which direction)

  3. Type your normal office-greeting message: e.g., "Hello, Registrar's Office."

  4. After complete your message type "GA" for "Go Ahead". This lets the caller know that you have completed what you are saying and it is their turn to speak/type.

  5. The caller will read what you have typed and will respond. When you see "GA", you'll know it's your turn to type your response.

  6. When one party thinks the conversation is over he or she will say "Bye, SK" for "Stop Keying".

  7. Typing "SK" or "GA or SK" leaves the conversation open for the other person to respond before ending the conversation.

  8. Typing "SKSK" means that you are certain the conversation is complete and you may hang up and turn off the TTY/TDD.

  1. Turn on the TTY/TDD.

  2. Dial the phone number on your standard telephone, listen for the phone to ring or give a busy signal.

  3. When you hear the TTY/TDD-sound, place the receiver on the TTY/TDD as stated above.

  4. After the greeting phrase and "GA" scroll across the display, identify yourself and proceed with the conversation.

  • Use standard punctuation and other short cuts like typing "Q" at the end of a statement indicating a question.
  • Add emotion to your typing. If something is funny, type in "Ha!” "laughing", "smile", "big grin", or even "I'm laughing so hard I'm rolling on the floor!". This is considered a courtesy and a way of making conversation more personal.
  • Don't backspace too much when you make typing mistakes. Just type XX and continue.


ga=go ahead

sk=stop keying

sksk=call complete