Bell Atlantic and Rockland County Library Make Communicating Easier for Deaf Customers

Bell Atlantic and Rockland County Library Make Communicating Easier for Deaf Customers

TTY Devices Now on Loan at Area Libraries

April 12, 2000


John Bonomo ,

Joanne Ginsburg,

HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. - Residents in Rockland County can now visit their local library to "kick the tires" on a text telephone - a device that helps deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired people to communicate over the phone by typing.

The special TTY or teletypewriter telephone equipment may be used by all library card holders, not just those who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired.

Through a program jointly sponsored by Bell Atlantic and the Library Association of Rockland County (LARC), residents will be able to check out -- at no charge -- a text telephone with the same ease as borrowing a book or tape. The program enables people to try a TTY to see if they would like to buy one for themselves or a child, parent or employee.

(Note to editors: A kick-off of the TTY Loan Program will be held tomorrow, Thursday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m. at the Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library, 85 Main St., Haverstraw.)

The Rockland County library branches participating in the program include the Nyack Library, the Finkelstein Memorial Library, the Sloatsburg Public Library and the Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library.

"The Rockland County loaner program is similar to a very successful program we've established with library systems in other areas across the state," said John Butler, Bell Atlantic's Community Affairs director for the area. "Initially, we will be providing four TTY kits to the Rockland system. The deaf community wanted a loaner TTY program, and Bell Atlantic is happy to answer the call of these important customers."

With a TTY, a person can type and read messages -- much like a typewriter - to communicate, instead of speaking over a telephone. Those who use a TTY can communicate with other TTY users, or with people who use a regular telephone with the help of the New York Relay Center for the Deaf. The communications assistants at the center serve as interpreters by relaying voice and text messages between TTY users and people who use a standard telephone.

In addition to a TTY, borrowers will also get a captioned instructional video and a Call Alert signaler, which alerts a deaf person with a visual signal that there is an incoming call. They will also receive information about the services offered by the Bell Atlantic Center for Customers with Disabilities.

To borrow a TTY, individuals need only show their library card at one of the participating branches. A TTY should be available for pick-up in the next library delivery, and can be checked out for two weeks.

"We are delighted to work with Bell Atlantic," said Joanne Ginsburg, director of the Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library. "Such partnerships and private sector concerns are increasingly vital to the mission of our public libraries. Our libraries are uniquely positioned to ensure that the benefits of the Information Age are freely available to all Americans. This program helps ensure that we can reach an important segment of our population."

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.