When was the last time you shopped for a telecommunication device? Many people change out their phones every two years as a result of phone contracts. Choosing from all the options available can be a challenge. For those with disabilities, the field has likewise greatly expanded and offers a whole barrage of assisted devices that give disabled consumers more independence. An important note: the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires "certain communications services, television programs and equipment to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, including people who are blind or visually impaired; people who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind; and people with speaking, mobility, dexterity, cognitive or intellectual disabilities."

In 2010, Public law 111-260, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) was passed to "help ensure individuals with disabilities are able to fully utilize communication services and equipment and better access video programming." This includes internet browsers built into mobile phones, telephone services and equipment and advanced communications services and equipment.

Click here to download a copy of this law.

Click here if you wish to contact a company if you are having accessibility problems.

Click here to use the resources found at the FCC for dispute assistance. Help is available in English or Spanish.


Hearing Impaired or Deaf
The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 (HAC Act): The FCC ensures all telephones manufactured or imported after 1989 are hearing aid compatible. Here are two Factsheets for hearing aid compatible compliance for phones:

Wireline Telephones

Wireless Telephones

Follow these links for manufacturers of equipment, service providers and hearing aid compatible wireless headsets.


Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS)
The relay service allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls.  It is available in all 50 states for local and/or long distance calls. There is no cost to the TRS user. Dial 711 to access TRS.  For more information about the types of TRS available, click here.


Access to Emergency Information
Broadcasters and cable operators must make local emergency information accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and to persons who are blind or have visual disabilities.  Emergencies include weather situations or community situations such as school closings, discharge of toxic gases, power failures and others. Click here for more about this topic.


Closed Captioning on TVs
All analog and digital television receivers must include closed captioning display capability.  Captions must be accurate, synchronous, complete and properly placed. There are even rules for captioning of internet video programming. Click here for more information on TVs and here for internet video programming.


Video Descriptions
The CVAA indicates that local TV stations affiliates of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC located in the top 25 TV markets must provide 50 hours per quarter of video-described prime time and/or children's programming.  Click here for more info as that expectations will increase to the top 60 television markets.


Access Wireless Lifeline Program
Access Wireless Lifeline Program is a government supported program that ensures everyone can get a mobile phone for free. The program is based on financial eligibility and varies by state.


Resources for Telecommunications

Assistive Devices for hard of hearing and deafness include vibrating and lighted clocks and wake-up devices, personal emergency response systems (PERS), cordless amplified telephones, personal listening systems, portable TTYs or video phones, PC platform TTYs, caller identification that announces the caller's name and number, etc. (Some devices for hard of hearing will also benefit those with blindness.)

Devices for consumers with blindness or visual impairments range from screen-readers and magnifiers to talking telephones and dialing accessories, talking note takers and data assistants, video magnification products, closed-caption television sets, and voice caller ID units.

Assistive devices for speech include agumentative communication, amplified speech, telephone handsets, anti-stuttering devices, artificial larynx, and speech amplifiers.

People with limited mobility can find safety devices, as well as special phone rests and brackets, and voice-activated telephones or hands-free phones.


Just whistle
. . . or speak, make a sound, or use a switch to dial, answer, or hang up your telephone. Ablephone produces several types of voice activated telephones for people with limited mobility or vision impairment. They also have a rescue alarm designed to dial the emergency number of your choice and be operated by personal assistance dogs.


Jaco by Kinova is an assistive robot arm for upper body tasks for power wheel chair users.  It is the second generation of a product, originally called Manipulo designed by Jacques Forest, a medical engineer in Quebec, Canada who had muscular dystrophy. Jaco is an electromechanical articulated arm, which allows power wheelchair users to grab and move various objects. It can be used push buttons, open drawers, manipulate objects, assist with drinking, control switches, hold a mobile phone or iPad, book or newspaper, water house plants—even feed and pat pets, etc! This device is fastened to the wheelchair to go everywhere the user goes.  Check out the video here.

Note: Infinitec does not endorse or recommend the above-mentioned products and has no liability for the results of their use. Infinitec has received no consideration of any type for featuring this product on this Web site. The information offered herein is a summary; it is not comprehensive and should be carefully evaluated by consumers with the assistance of qualified professionals. The intention of Infinitec is to offer consumers a brief overview of various assistive technology devices and their applications.