Living with hearing loss can hinder day-to-day life basics of communication and can be managed with the assistance of hearing aid technology. However hearing loss can be a daunting challenge when patients go from an active social life to isolation. As humans, we primarily crave for the social connection with our friends and loved ones. Without it, the feeling of loneliness creeps in, affecting our overall health wellbeing of mental lacking the social stimuli and emotional lacking the required serotonin to maintain happiness. It is a combination of social isolation, emotional turmoil and insecurity from the frequent attempts in trying to understand conversations.
Since Florida is the go-to state for people in retirement, leaving behind children and families in the state they hailed from, long distance phone calls became the norm for families to stay in touch. Floridians with hearing loss can tap into Florida’s open secret of 24 years: free amplified telephones. This is made possible with the passage of Florida’s Telecommunication Access System Act of 1991, establishing Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. or FTRI as the state’s non-profit equipment distributor. The current 12 cents surcharge, imposed on all landline services, pays for the phones distributed at no charge to qualified Florida residents.
The equipment available through the program includes:
- Telephones that amplify incoming sound
- Signaling devices that alert you when the phone rings
- Captioned telephones
- Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD/TTY)
- Telephones that amplify outgoing speech
- More specialized equipment, for example:
- Teli-Talk phone for laryngectomees
- A remote control speakerphone with voice activated answering and a wireless remote. Ideal for those with limited mobility.
Amplified telephones for the hard of hearing are the most frequently distributed equipment – not surprisingly due to Florida’s large population of seniors. According to Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing’s 2011 report to the Governor, more than 3 million Floridians have a hearing loss. To receive an amplified telephone or specialized equipment, applicants must be a permanent Florida resident, age 3 years or older, have a certified hearing loss or speech difficulty and home landline service.
One of the following certifying agents will need to sign the FTRI application:
- Hearing aid specialist
- Licensed physician
- Speech pathologist
- State certified teacher of the hearing impaired
- State certified teacher of the visually impaired
- Appropriate state or federal agency representative
- Deaf Service Center director
FTRI contracts with 25 non-profit Regional Distribution Centers (RDCs) statewide to serve clients in the community. To find your nearest location, visit www.ftri.org/locations and utilize the zip code search engine to locate the nearest RDC. The RDCs are available for presentations and phone distributions throughout their community. If you would like to schedule a presentation and/or phone distribution, please contact your local RDC.
If you have questions about the FTRI program or if you would like to request an event, call 1-800-222-3448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications can be requested from the www.ftri.org/free website.
Please start a conversation today with your patients and staying in touch with loved ones near and afar. Addressing hearing loss issues can help provide the following benefits that include:
- Better relationships with families
- Higher self-esteem
- Improved mental health
- Greater independence and security
Florida is speaking up for better communication and staying connected! Thank you for your continued support of the FTRI program.