Maria was a 32-year-old woman who became disabled following a biking accident. As a result of a traumatic brain injury suffered during the accident, her ability to speak became impaired. Most people could not comprehend what she said. Seeking resources to regain some independence, especially for telecommunication purposes, she found the Maryland Accessible Telecommunication Program and its sister program, Maryland Relay.
Maryland Relay provides people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind, or speech-disabled use of an operator to communicate over the phone. The operator helps ensure a smooth conversation during the call. Operator involvement provides a more accurate service and the immediate support of a live person when needed. There’s even a service for conference calls that was introduced in March 2020 called Remote Conference Captioning (RCC). This allows anyone in need access to captioning services during a conference call (over the phone or virtually).
The Maryland Accessible Telecommunication (MAT) Equipment Distribution Program is the natural complement to the Maryland Relay service. MAT provides devices to anyone who qualifies and struggles to independently access telecommunication be it by traditional phone, cell phone, iPads, or a number of other devices. These devices can help those who are speech disabled, low-vision, blind, Deafblind, have mobility or cognitive difficulties, and even those who have a combination of disabilities. It’s truly a program designed to overcome challenges and encourage independence!
Individuals can apply for the MAT program by downloading the application from this link – https://doit.maryland.gov/mdrelay/SiteAssets/Pages/Equipment/2021MATapplication.pdf.
Or call us at 800-552-7724. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To qualify individuals must:
- Be a Maryland resident
- 3 years of age or older
- Receive a Social Security benefit (SSI, SSDI, SSA)
- Or live on a fixed income (up to 400% of Federal Poverty level $51,520 for a household of 1)
- Have a verifiable disability that interferes with telecommunication
- Have or be willing to get service for landline, internet or cell phone usage (we do not pay for this)
Our application requires copies of documents for proof: A utility or phone bill, a photo id, income proof and completion of Part 5, the Disability Certification Form (DCF) completed by a healthcare practitioner.
We are always happy to provide any assistance in getting the application done. Just reach out to us at 800-552-7724 or 1-410-767-7253. You can also call or email Jane Hager at 301-974-1946 or email at email@example.com.
Once your application is submitted and approved, you will work with an evaluator to determine the best device, including any additional accessories, to meet your needs.
Our services and equipment are FREE!!! You just need to pay for your usual connection via landline, internet, or cell phone.
After Maria’s application for the MAT Program was approved, she was evaluated and introduced to several devices including a hearing carry over phone where she could hear her caller, then using a keyboard working through a tablet, type her response which generated a spoken response that’s broadcast directly through a phone connected to a landline. Next, she was introduced to an Apple Ipad and learned how various apps, including a Sprint Relay app, could provide her with telecommunication via a TTY connection to a relay operator. Additionally, she could use Skype for phone calls and access Maryland Relay Speech-to-Speech services to support her communication via a trained relay operator specializing in understanding people with different speech ability. And last, she considered the Pixel 6 cell phone. She and her evaluator decided, based on her lifestyle, and needs, this phone would give her the best accessibility features to overcome communication barriers. The Pixel 6 provides speech-generating apps, Skype for Speech-to-Speech phone assistance, texting, and the T-Mobile IP Relay. Plus, she could use all the other great Google phone features.
Check us out on the next blog to learn more about Pixel 6 and its great solutions for people who are hard of hearing and deaf.