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News Release
 
Commission Donates Text Telephones to Gulf Coast Hurricane Victims
 
October 19, 2005 (2005 - 027)
 
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR – After hearing the horror stories over the weeks about displaced deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired individuals who were victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and lost all of their assistive telecommunications equipment, the Oregon Public Utility Commission is pleased to be able to contribute 40 refurbished text telephones known as TTYs for the relief effort.
 
"Communication is a basic necessity for those reconnecting with friends and family and rebuilding their lives in the weeks since Hurricane Katrina – and even more so for those who cannot use a traditional telephone," Governor Ted Kulongoski said. "I am so proud that Oregonians from throughout the state – including State agencies–continue to contribute to the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region, and I hope that these text telephones will help support our fellow citizens as they pave the path for their future."
 
The refurbished units were originally earmarked to be sent to state surplus and sold but the Commission decided they could be put to better use by hurricane victims.
 
A TTY is an electronic device resembling a typewriter that enables deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired individuals to communicate with others over the telephone line. It consists of a keyboard, LED display, acoustic couplers and other features.
 
"Trying to survive a life threatening ordeal and the devastating aftermath among people who you cannot communicate with takes extraordinary strength. Giving these survivors access to the phone is the least we can do for them," said Damara Paris, Manager of Telecommunications Assistance Programs at the Commission.
 
Since 1987 the Commission has provided TTYs to eligible Oregonians through the Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP). This program and others are funded by a surcharge on monthly telephone bills. The Commission currently provides a variety of assistive devices to approximately 4000 Oregonians.
 
The Commission purchases and loans the devices to Oregonians who are deaf, hearing, vision, or speech impaired, or who have disabilities that would prevent them from using a telephone.
 
The Commission initially contacted the Louisiana relay, but found they had adequate donations and was directed to donate to Mississippi survivors. 
 
The donation will be sent to the DeL'Epee Deaf Service Center in Gulfport, Mississippi, this week.
 
Additional donation information is available at http://dhhrelief.org/main.htm (link no longer valid)
 
Information on state telecommunication assistance programs is available at http://www.rspf.org
 
Approximately 28 million in the USA have a speech or hearing disability.
 
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