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Telecommunications Relay Service

TTY users in South Carolina may reach the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) with questions about the Telecommunications Relay Service by dialing 711 and asking the call administrator to dial 803-737-0800.

A South Carolina utility customer may contact the Office of Regulatory Staff with consumer issues by dialing 711 and instructing the call administrator to dial 803-737-5230 for Consumer Services. For direct access, TTY users may contact the ORS Consumer Services by dialing (803) 737-5175 (in Columbia, S.C.) or 1-800-334-2217 (toll-free within South Carolina).

Below are the numbers used by the Telecommunications Relay Service in South Carolina. They can also be found in the front section of your telephone directory:

Abbreviated Dialing for Telecommunications Relay Service 711
Operator/Directory Assistance 1-800-855-4000

Callers may also dial the alternative numbers below:

TTY 1-800-735-8583
Voice 1-800-735-2905
ASCII 1-800-735-7293
Customer Service 1-800-676-3777

The S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind may also be of assistance to you.


What is the Telecommunications Relay Service?

The Telecommunications Relay Service is a means for the hearing- and speech-impaired citizens of South Carolina to conveniently place and receive telephone calls. No charges apply to local calls. Local telephone companies collect a monthly charge per phone line from every customer to fund the service. The collected monies go into a fund to operate the Telecommunications Relay Service and the South Carolina Equipment Distribution Program (SCEDP). Funding for these programs is administered by the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.


What is a TTY?

This program utilizes a device known as a teletypewriter, or TTY. This device is also known as a text telephone.


How long has the TTY device been in existence?

TTYs were originally invented in the 1930s as a way to send text messages over telephone wires, and they were often used by journalists when submitting a story to their editors. In the 1960s, Robert Weitbrecht, a scientist who was hearing-impaired, modified a teletypewriter by adding the acoustic coupler, so that people who are hearing-impaired could use the telephone network. Some of the first TTYs were big and bulky. Today, some TTYs are small enough to fit into a purse or coat pocket.


How does a TTY device work?

This device 'rings' via flashing light or, in the case of more recent models, a vibrating wrist band that resembles a watch. The TTY consists of a keyboard, which holds somewhere from 20 to 30 character keys; a display screen; and a modem. The letters that the TTY user types into the machine are converted to electrical signals that can travel over regular telephone lines. When the signals reach their destination (in this case, another TTY), they are converted to letters which appear on a display screen, print out on paper, or both. Some of the newer TTYs are equipped with answering machines.


Are TTY devices widely used?

The TTY has 4 million users nationwide. Seventy-five percent of these users are hearing-impaired, and the remaining 25% have severe speech impairments.


What is a Message Relay Center, or MRC?

A hearing caller who needs to get in touch with a TTY user but does not possess a TTY of his own can contact a Message Relay Center (MRC) to make his call. South Carolina's Message Relay Center is located in Cayce, South Carolina. The operator at the MRC will use a TTY to call the party that the hearing person is trying to reach. The operator acts as an interpreter by typing the hearing person's message into a TTY and reading the response to him as it returns. (This works vice versa for a hearing-impaired caller trying to reach a hearing party.) With the help of an MRC, citizens who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired can connect to any phone, anywhere, and at any time. Their communication is no longer limited to other TTY users.

 South Carolina Equipment Distribution Program (SCEDP)  

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