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Telecommunication Relay Services

What is Washington Relay?

Telecommunication Relay Services in Washington State is also known as Washington Relay which is a free service provided by the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) ensuring equal communication access to the telephone service for people who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech disabled.

This service allows hearing callers to communicate with deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and speech disabled relay users and vice versa through specially trained relay operators.

Calls can be made to anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no restrictions on the number, length, or type of calls. All calls are strictly confidential and no records of any conversations are maintained.

Click on the icons to learn more about the relay feature offered.

Voice User Captioned Telephone HCO STS Telebraille TTY VCO VRS

How does Washington Relay work?

Anyone wishing to use Washington Relay simply dials 711 to connect with a relay operator. The relay operator will dial the requested number and relay the conversation between the two callers. Either a person with a hearing loss or speech disability with specialized telecommunication equipment or a person using a standard phone may initiate a call through Washington Relay by dialing the relay number 711 or the designated 10 digit number. After dialing Washington Relay, the person initiating the call gives the desired phone number to the Washington Relay Operator, who then dials that number using another phone line. The Washington Relay Operator types the standard phone user's spoken words to the person using a specialized telecommunication equipment and voices the specialized telecommunication equipment user's text messages.

Don't Hang Up

Washington Relay is designed to connect deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and speech disabled people with people and businesses that use standard (voice) telephones. Although the relay service has been in existence for more than 18 years, many people don't understand how it works. As a result, people who receive relay calls often hang up, believing the caller is a telemarketer. Thus the Don't Hang Up campaign was developed.
The goal of the Don't Hang Up campaign is to decrease the frequency of hang ups by people who are unfamiliar with relay. The campaign includes a public service announcement, as well as articles in business publications.

When you experience a hang up on a relay call, please contact Washington Relay at askwashingtonrelay@dshs.wa.gov and we will contact the business to educate them about relay services.
Consider changing the way you have your relay calls announced so instead of saying, "This is the Washington Relay Service...." you ask the relay operator to begin "This is a customer of your business calling through the Washington Relay," or "This is [your name] calling through Washington Relay." Some people have found that this kind of greeting reduces hang ups. Another option would be to ask the relay operator not to announce relay, and give the relay operator instructions as of how you'd like the call to be announced, such as "Hello, this is [your name]," however it becomes your responsibility to educate the person that you're using the relay service (as the relay operator automatically becomes the third party after you take over).

How to File a Relay Complaint

Are you satisfied with Washington Relay Services? We encourage you to contact us and file a complaint, comment, concerns or suggestions. You may contact a Washington Relay service customer service rep by dialing the toll free number and provide the required information listed below. These complaints are generally for Washington Relay Services and not intended to resolve complaints related to internet-based relay service providers. If you have a complaint related to an internet-based relay service provider, we encourage you to contact the internet-based provider and file a complaint. To file an internet-based relay complaint, please go to the following website: http://www.fcc.gov/complaints.  To file a WATRS TRS or CTS complaint, please contact a WATRS customer service rep at 1-800-676-3777 or email us at askwashingtonrelay@dshs.wa.gov.

WTRS Customer Service Contact Information

WTRS Customer Service Representatives are available to answer questions, take customer commendations, complaints, or feedback. When calling about a specific incident, please provide the following information:

  • Relay Operator's identification number
  • Date
  • Time of call
  • Brief description of the complaint

About Telecommunication Relay Service

Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) was established to provide telephone relay services to deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled residents of Washington State in accordance with Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The recommendations of the 1991 Washington State TTY Task Force resulted in substitute Senate Bill 6377 to establish the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) under ODHH.

ODHH is certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as a Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) administrator for the State of Washington. Presently, through a competitive procurement process, Sprint Relay is the TRS provider for Washington State. Sprint Relay offers both Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) and Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) to Washington State residents.

The Washington Telecommunications Relay Services (WATRS) FY12 annual report is now available.

Federal Communication Commission (FCC)

Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the telecommunication relay services. The FCC oversees Title IV. States and telecommunication providers are responsible to provide telecommunication relay services. The intent is to ensure that people with hearing loss and speech disabilities achieve functionally equivalent access to telecommunication services. The FCC establishes rules and makes decisions that impact the people with hearing loss and speech disabilities, states, telecommunication providers and relay providers. The FCC is required to gather public comments before making these rules and decisions. The FCC regulates Telecommunication Relay Services (including Captioned Telephone Service), Internet-based relay services and video relay services. At this time, states are responsible for the provision of telecommunication relay services only.

For more information: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/

Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates (RLSA)

All telecommunication providers are required to contribute using a "carrier contribution factor" every year. It is less than one percentage (>1%) of its' revenue deposited into a Interstate Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) Fund managed by RLSA on behalf of the FCC. This contribution fulfills the telecommunication providers' obligation to provide relay services as a way to simplify the implementation complexity of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Title IV. The RLSA TRS Interstate fund reimburses all relay providers (TRS, IP and VRS). RLSA reimburses TRS relay providers and pays for 51% of interstate calls (Washington-to-another state) on a price-per-minute (PPM) basis. The state of Washington ODHH pays for 49% of interstate calls and 100% of intrastate calls (calls within Washington).

For more information: http://www.r-l-s-a.com/TRS/