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News Release
Oregon Activates 711 Telephone Relay Service
October 1, 2001 (2001 - 037)
Contacts: Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – Oregon residents will join the country in launching the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC's) streamlined three-digit dialing system to access the Oregon Telecommunications Relay System. The change means both voice and relay system users will only need to dial 711 to communicate with deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled people who use text telephones, also known as TTY devices, instead of memorizing a seven or ten-digit access number.
It's fast and functional. 711 is good news for everyone, not just persons with disabilities.
Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway made the inaugural call October 1, 2001, to BettySue Bischoff of Leaburg, who is a hard-of-hearing, and an advocate for the Eugene Self Help for the Hard of Hearing.
"This is going to be a whole lot easier. The relay system is another way we are ensuring all of our citizens are given the services they need," Commission Chairman Roy Hemmingway said. "We really want to make the hearing public aware of this service and encourage them to use it."
With 711, callers only need to dial three digits to connect with the Oregon Telecommunications Relay System (OTRS). The system makes possible telephone conversations between people who do and do not have hearing or speech disabilities.
The 711 system will not replace the 11-digit numbers that deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled people dial to gain access to a text-based telephone system.
Dialing 711 puts the caller in contact with an operator who will connect them with the relay system where trained operators read text messages, relay them to the person called, type verbal responses, and send them back to the caller.
"I'm real excited about this development. This will make it a lot easier for people to reach out and communicate with other people regardless of their special needs," Bischoff said. "This means people will only have to remember three numbers in order to use the relay system."
Currently, more than 8.6 percent of the country's population has hearing and/or speech difficulties, 330,000 of whom live in Oregon.
This change is also good news for students at the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem who need to contact their family and friends said Outreach Coordinator Janet Johanson," Instead of memorizing or trying to locate over 50 different phone numbers, deaf and hard-of-hearing students will be able to go anywhere in the United States and use 711 to make their calls."
Under rules adopted by the FCC, all telecommunications carriers in the United States, including wireline, wireless, and payphone operators, must provide 711 dialing by October 1, 2001.
The Oregon Relay System is a public service offered by the state and is administered by the Residential Service Protection Fund through the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
For additional information about the relay contact the following Web site.
http://www.puc.state.or.us/PUC/rspf/otrs/index.shtml (Link no longer valid).
Questions and Answers
Question: What happens October 1st?
Answer: Federal law requires all carriers to activate the 711 systems no later than October 1, 2001. Some carriers in Oregon activated their systems in September to identify any potential bugs prior to the nationwide rollout.
Question: Will out-of-state callers need to use the 1-800 number?
Answer: No, out of-state callers can use their own relay system numbers or 711.
Question: What will telephone companies do to educate the public of this new
Answer: The telephone companies will be including billing inserts with 711 information.
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