TAMPA, Fla. - Starting tomorrow, Floridians with hearing and speech impairments will be able to dial just three digits -- 7-1-1 -- to make phone calls within the state 24 hours a day, every day to reach the state's Telecommunications Relay Service.
''This new 7-1-1 dialing provides an easier, more convenient way for members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, as well as their friends and families to reach the telecommunications relay service,'' said John Ferrell, president, Florida operations for Verizon.
The Federal Communications Commission has reserved the 7-1-1 three-digit number for that purpose and eventually all states will provide 7-1-1 access to relay service.
Previously, customers dialed a toll-free 800 number to reach the Florida Telecommunications Relay Service. This service connects calls between a speech or hearing-impaired person using a text telephone and a hearing person using a standard telephone. The person using the text phone types his or her conversation and a trained operator conveys the message to the other party. The operator then ''relays'' the hearing person's exact words by typing them back to the text phone user. All relay operators have been specially trained to help conversations flow with ease and accuracy. Confidentiality is strictly observed. There is no limit on the number of times someone can use the service.
All options previously available to relay service customers remain the same. The only change is the shorter phone number. Customers who want to access service using toll-free numbers can use the following: 800-955-8771 (TTY) or 800-955-8770 (Voice).
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 125 million access line equivalents and 28 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with approximately $65 billion in annual revenues and about 260,000 employees, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com