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Me and My TTY

by Branden Huxtable

Originally published in the February 1997 issue of the CSCDHH GA Newsletter

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I have had a TTY for several years now, both at home and work, but I grew up without a TTY mostly because I never heard of one. When someone asked me if I would be interested in getting one through the state, my first thought was that I did not want to take it away from someone who could really use one. At the time, I did not realize that maybe I could use one.

I remember in elementary school, I used a telephone with a volume control going from zero, the lowest, to nine, the highest. When I first got it, I could hear around four or five without my hearing aids. I only had one problem. When someone called me pretending to be someone else, I spent the entire conversation not understanding a word he said. So much for practical jokes.

By the time I started college, my hearing dropped to the point where I had to turn the volume control all the way up. I still used the phone without my hearing aids, but after a conversation where my friend had to repeat everything at least five times, I finally started using the phone with my hearing aids, T switch and all. With my hearing aids, the volume control dropped back down to four or five, but within a few years, it went back up to eight or nine. Someone even gave me a portable telephone amplifier which I was only able to use for a few months before I could no longer hear with it.

So could I use a TTY?

One friend of mine tried to tell me a joke over the phone, but after repeating and guessing and losing track after ten or fifteen minutes, I finally understood the joke. Naturally, the joke wasn't funny anymore.

Another time, a friend tried to tell me where to meet him. After five or ten minutes of trying to understand him over the phone, one of my frustrated coworkers finally handed me a note that read: "He said to meet him at Lincoln Plaza."

I get a certain satisfaction when pushy hard-sell telephone solicitors hang up on me. Unfortunately, one time a lady patiently made sure I understood everything she said making me feel real bad when I turned down the offer.

With voice answering machines, I typically call my mother to ask her to listen for me. That normally works, except one time a friend of mine left a message filled with swearing (not unusual for this person). I called my mother for help and the only thing she could say said "Boy, what a mouth!"

Yes, I did need a TTY. I took a long time to admit it because I adjusted my telephone habits without noticing my telephone conversations turned into really long guessing game. Seemed normal to me.


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