Calling Protocol for Relay Calls – Please have the telephone number that you wish to call ready in advance. If you would like a Communication Assistant (CA) of a certain gender, please make that request when the CA answers your call. Then give the phone number you are calling to the CA. Voice users should speak clearly and at a moderate speed. Direct your conversation to the party you are calling as if the CA were absent.

Incorrect: Hello, Communication Assistant. Please tell Jim the meeting is at two this afternoon. Can he come? Go ahead.

Correct: Hello, Jim. The meeting is at two this afternoon. Can you come? Go ahead.

The CA is required to relay everything that you type or speak, and will also relay all background noises. For example, a fire alarm ringing in the background will be relayed. All calls are held strictly confidential.

TTY – An individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or has difficulty speaking can use a Text Telephone (TTY) to type his or her conversation to a CA, who then reads the typed conversation to the other party. The CA relays the other party’s spoken words by typing them back to the TTY user.

  • Dial 711 or 1-800-735-2942
  • Relay Iowa will answer: “Relay Iowa CA # _____, F/M (for CA gender), NUMBER TO CALL PLS Q GA (GA denotes go ahead).
  • Type the area code and phone number you wish to call and then type GA.
  • The CA will dial the number and relay the conversation to and from your TTY. Type GA at the end of each message to let the other party know it is their turn to respond.

Voice – Standard telephone users can easily initiate calls to TTY users. The CA types the voice user’s spoken words to the TTY user and reads back the typed replies.

  • Dial 711 or 1-800-735-2943
  • You will hear: “Relay Iowa CA #_____. Area code and number to call please.”
  • Give the CA the area code and telephone number you wish to call and any further instructions.
  • The CA will process your call, relaying exactly what the Relay user is typing. The CA will relay what you say back to the Relay user. Be sure to talk directly to the person you are calling, and avoid saying “tell him” or “tell her”, and say “go ahead” at the end of your response.

Voice Carry Over (VCO) – VCO allows individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to speak directly to a standard telephone user. When the standard phone user speaks, a CA will type everything said to you on a TTY or text display.

  • Dial 711 or 1-800-735-4313
  • Relay Iowa will answer: “Relay Iowa CA #_____, F/M (for CA gender) and VCO ON. This will show after you request an automatic VCO from your line to the CA.
  • You will speak directly to the other party. The CA will not repeat what you say buy only type to you what the other party says. You both need to say “GA” or “go ahead” at the end of each response.

VCO with Privacy – This is similar to the standard VCO feature. However, the CA will not hear your voice and only types the other party’s responses back to the VCO user. If you do not want the CA to listen to your voice, tell the CA you want “Privacy ON”.

Two-Line VCO – Two-Line VCO allows a customer with two telephone lines to use one line for speaking directly to a hearing person while the other line is used to receive the hearing person’s typed responses. This feature provides a more natural flow of conversation without the pauses of traditional VCO calls.

VCO to TTY – The CA will only type what the VCO user says to the TTY user. Whatever the TTY user types will go directly to the VCO user’s TTY or VCO equipment.

VCO to VCO – VCO users can contact other VCO users through Relay Iowa. The CA will type to both parties what is said.

Hearing Carry Over (HCO) – HCO allows individuals who have difficulty speaking to listen to the person they are calling. The HCO user types his or her conversation for the CA to read to the standard telephone user.

  • Dial 711 or 1-800-735-2942
  • Relay Iowa will answer: “Relay Iowa CA #_____, F/M (for CA gender) and NUMBER TO CALL PLS Q GA (GA denotes go ahead).
  • Type the area code and phone number you wish to call and then type HCO PLEASE GA.
  • The CA will make the connections and voice your typed conversation to the called party. After you type GA, pick up the headset to listen to the spoken reply. You can also request an automatic HCO connection with a customer profile.

HCO to TTY – HCO users can listen while the CA is voicing the TTY user’s typed message. The HCO user types his or her conversation directly to the TTY user.

HCO to HCO – HCO users can contact other HCO users through Relay Iowa. The CA will voice to both parties what is typed on each user’s TTY.

Speech-to-Speech (STS) – If you have difficulty speaking, you can take advantage of Relay Iowa’s Speech-to-Speech (STS) service, With STS, specially-trained CAs repeat the STS user’s side of the conversation as needed.

STS is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no restrictions on the length or number of calls placed. All Relay calls are strictly confidential, as Federal law mandates that CAs cannot reveal any information about any call.

  • Dial 1-877-735-1007
  • You will hear: “Relay Iowa CA #_____. The area code and number to call, please?”.
  • Voice the telephone number of the party you want to call plus any special instructions.
  • Once the call is connected, everyone on the call will be able to hear each other. The CA will repeat 3 to 4 word segments upon request.
  • The CA will clarify anything that is not clear before repeating. Pausing while the CA repeats is helpful.
  • You or the person you are calling may request that the CA stay in the background. This is especially helpful when calling family, friends or others who are familiar with your speech. Say GA when you are finished speaking and ready for a response. If you need the CA to begin repeating at any time during the call, you must request the CA to do so.

Captioned Telephone (CapTel®) – The State of Iowa offers a service designed for individuals who have difficulty hearing over the telephone. CapTel provides captions for the telephone, similar to the closed captioning provided on most television programs.

CapTel is especially helpful for:

  • People who have a hearing loss and find it difficult to understand telephone conversations
  • People who use hearing aids or assistive listening devices
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing with understandable speech

CapTel allows the user to receive voice and text in real time through specialized equipment.

With CapTel, you won’t have to struggle to hear what others say on the phone. You have the opportunity to supplement your residual hearing by viewing captions on your CapTel phone’s screen for added clarity. You also enjoy the freedom of using your own voice during phone conversations. To find out how to get a CapTel phone, click here.

Spanish Relay Service – Relay Iowa offers Spanish Relay service. Relay users can type or speak in Spanish and the conversations will be relayed in Spanish. To request Spanish Relay, dial 1-800-264-7190. Relay Iowa also offers Spanish to English translation service.

Emergency Calls – In case of emergency, TTY users should call the TTY-equipped 911 Center or emergency services center in their community. All customers should verify the emergency phone numbers for TTY calls in their area. Calls placed directly and immediately to the local TTY emergency number can save valuable time in urgent situations. For more information on how to obtain emergency numbers in your area, call Relay Iowa Customer Care.

Visually Assisted Speech-to-Speech (VA STS)

Many individuals who have difficulty speaking are best understood when they can be seen. VA STS provides the opportunity to use both speech and visual cues when interacting with the Communication Assistant during Speech-to-Speech calls.

VA STS involves the use of a live video connection between the CA and the VA STS user. Utilizing a webcam and computer Skype™ software, the CA is able to see the VA STS user’s mouth movements, facial expressions and gestures as they are speaking. The CA uses these visual cues to assist in better understanding the VA STS user’s side of the conversation.

  • Dial 800-855-7400 to connect with a CA.
  • Using Skype, the CA establishes a video connection with the VA STS user.
  • The VA STS user gives the CA the number to dial and any specific call handling instructions.
  • The CA dials the requested number and facilitates the conversation.

Speech-to-Speech User Training Line

The Speech-to-Speech User Training Line is a resource for groups and individuals in Iowa to familiarize themselves with the proper etiquette and standard procedures of using STS. Individuals who are residents of Iowa and/or intend to use the STS service with an Iowa resident are eligible to call the training line.

The User Training Line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can be reached by contacting Customer Care at 800-516-4692.