CODI: Cornucopia of Disability Information



Many visually impaired individuals benefit from the use of optical character
recognition to convert print documents into a format usable to them.  In some
cases, there are OCR systems that can convert directly from print to spoken
output using a speech synthesizer.  In other cases, the OCR can convert from
print to a PC file that may be read using a screen reader package and speech
synthesizer, or by using a refreshable braille display, or a large print
display device.  Once the print material has been converted to a standard PC
file, the full range of accommodation tools can be used to give the
individual the preferred mode of access to the information.


   - Quality of printed material to be scanned - Some OCR devices
     will adequately recognize only letter quality printed text.
     Others are able to scan and recognize draft quality text or poor
     quality copies of reproduced materials.  At this time, optical
     character recognition of handwritten materials is not commercially

   - Format of printed material to be scanned - Some OCR
     devices can only scan and recognize materials on a standard sized
     page that is printed in portrait format.  Other OCR devices can
     also recognize materials that are printed landscape or sideways on
     a page.  There are also differences in how different scanning
     devices are able to handle multi-column text.  Prior to deciding
     on an OCR device, a test scan and recognition of materials that
     are of the format and quality the user will typically be scanning
     should be done.

   - Stand-alone speech output - Some OCR's can give speech output of
     the printed material without actually being connected to a PC at

      - Is there a need for speech output of printed text in a
	stand-alone mode vs through the PC?

   - Choice of scanners - Some OCR devices are able to work with a
     number of different scanner platforms.  Others are limited to one
     or two choices of possible scanners.  If the department has
     already purchased scanners in the past and just needs to optimize
     the OCR capabilities for the individual, this may be a

   - User interface - The OCR devices that are being marketed
     specifically for use by blind individuals have ensured that their
     user interface is not dependent on the user responding to visual
     cues on the scanner.  Some of the OCR devices that are not
     specifically marketed to visually impaired users may also be
     usable, but this should be carefully examined prior to purchase.
     In addition, the OCR devices specifically marketed to visually
     impaired users usually have the user interface specifically
     designed to easily work with screen reader packages and speech
     synthesizers to give spoken output to the user.

   - Other considerations and questions that should be addressed include:

      - Does the scanner have an automatic page feed for multi-paged documents?

      - How well can the scanner handle bound documents?  Is the
	recognition satisfactory as the print nears the bound edge?

      - Can several pages be scanned before the recognition effort
	begins, or must each section or page be scanned and recognized
	before moving on?  In some cases, the OCR devices that allow
	several pages to be scanned before recognition occurs can save the
	individual time by allowing them to go on to another task while
	the recognition is occurring.

      - How long does it take for a typical page to be scanned?  

      - How long does it take for a typical page to be recognized?

      - How many pages can be scanned in one session?  Is there a memory
	buffer limitation?

      - Is portability of the unit a factor?

   - Hardware configuration and software compatibility considerations 

      - See the "General Hardware Configuration and Software
	Compatibility Considerations" listed at the beginning of this


Speech recognition can be used by some blind computer users to augment either
the regular computer keyboard or a braille input device.  Typically, blind
computer users are using the speech recognition to either make command
selections from a pull-down menu or to give voice mouse commands.  In many
cases, mouse movements can be accomplished by using keyboard commands, but
this is often slow and cumbersome.  Speech recognition systems that allow the
individual to speak the mouse commands and movements to be performed may
offer an easier and more productive alternative to mouse control.  For more
information on speech recognition, see the section on accommodating
individuals with mobility impairments in this appendix.


   - Will the speech recognition package work well with the speech
     output, refreshable braille package, or other accommodation
     package also in use?

   - How is feedback given to the visually impaired user that the 
     desired command or movement has been executed?


Although CD-ROM can be a very effective tool for visually impaired users, not
all CD-ROMs are usable by individuals with visual impairments.  Typically,
the user will need to access the information using their accommodation tools
such as speech output, large print, or refreshable braille.


   - Image file vs ASCII file - Is the information stored as an image
     file or as an ASCII file?  To be accessible by many visually
     impaired users, the ASCII file format is needed.

   - CD-ROM interface - The user interface to access the files on the
     CD-ROM may also present problems for the visually impaired user.
     Some CD-ROM producers are using a graphical user interface (GUI)
     rather than an ASCII-based interface.

   - Text annotations - Do any pictures presented on the CD-ROM have
     an ASCII text annotation explaining the information presented in
     the picture?  Although this is not crucial in every case, it is a
     useful addition.

   - Graphic/text install option - Does the CD-ROM interface offer an
     option during the install process that would give the user the
     choice to load a graphic interface or a text interface?


Many visually impaired users may benefit greatly from using various 
combinations of the devices previously discussed in this section.  


   - Large print and speech output - Many individuals with low vision
     are able to read large format displays, but may not be able to
     read even this enlarged text over long periods of time without
     significant eye strain and fatigue.  Adding speech output may
     significantly lengthen the time they could productively work on a
     given task.  Many users will use speech output for reviewing
     material for content and switch to visual display for final
     editing or when the speech output is unclear or difficult to
     understand.  For some individuals with a degenerative eye
     condition, it may be helpful to add speech output while there is
     still some degree of usable vision to help in the transition from
     dealing with the screen visually to dealing with it auditorily.

   - Speech and refreshable braille - Many blind individuals may
     benefit from using a combination of speech output and a
     refreshable braille display.  Speech may be the preferred means
     for reviewing text and the refreshable braille for doing the final
     edit or reviewing items such as acronyms that may not convert well
     to speech output.  Others may find speech output the preferred
     mode in one application and refreshable braille in another.  For
     instance, many programming languages use contracted words and
     numerous punctuation symbols that may be easier to understand
     using refreshable braille.  On the other hand, word processing
     tasks may proceed more quickly using speech output rather than
     having to constantly switch hands from the keyboard to the braille
     display to type and review text.

The key to all the accommodation solutions discussed is to involve the 
individual user throughout the decision process.  

C.  Accommodating Users with Hearing Impairment

In general, deaf people depend more upon visual skills for communication and
information from their environment while hard of hearing people try to
enhance their usable hearing and still rely on auditory input more than
visual input.  It is key that the individual participate in the process of
identifying the accommodation solution to ensure it is the proper approach
for that particular individual and their needs.

Both hard of hearing individuals with hearing aids and those who do not wear
a hearing aid may benefit from devices that provide amplification of standard
auditory input.  Depending on the cause of hearing loss, amplification
devices may not help some hard of hearing individuals.  Although many
individuals with a hearing loss may be quite knowledgeable about the range of
amplification devices available, there are others that may not be aware of
these devices.  This is especially true of older individuals who often
consider their progressive hearing loss a part of the normal aging process
and think there is nothing that can be done but to accept it and go on.  The
best way for a hard of hearing individual to determine which amplification
devices may be of benefit to them is to actually try several of the devices
if at all possible.  If one amplification device does not provide sufficient
amplification for the individual, a different device or a different style of
device may still be of benefit.  In many cases, consulting with a service
center having expertise in assistive listening devices may be beneficial.

It should be kept in mind that many deaf individuals also wear hearing aids.
For these individuals, the hearing aid allows them to hear loud sounds, but
not to discriminate speech regardless of the amount of amplification.


Many of the accommodations discussed for individuals who are deaf focus on the 
need for visual redundancy to augment what others hear auditorily.  Visual 
redundancy can be accomplished for computer tasks, telecommunications tasks, 
one-to-one communications and group meetings.  Each of these areas will be 
discussed in this section on visual redundancy.


Most hearing impaired users currently do not experience significant
difficulties with computer technology.  Adding a means for visual redundancy
of auditory signals like the computer beep will often decrease some of the
frustrations that may occur working in a computer environment.  Although a
user with a hearing impairment would eventually determine that something is
wrong from the lack of change on the visual display, it can be a frustrating
experience.  Likewise, hearing a long string of beeps until this realization
is made may be frustrating to the coworkers in the office.  Software is
available for PCs that will either flash the screen or display the word BEEP
where the cursor is located whenever the auditory beep is sounded by the PC
speaker.  For any offices using Macintosh computers, the ability to change
the computer beep to a flashing bar on the screen is a built-in function of
the operating system utilities.

Many Federal offices have large nonstandard application packages written and
developed to specifically meet the needs of the agency.  When new programs
are being developed, redundant visual and auditory cues should be
incorporated so that both visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals
may fully use the systems.


To accommodate hearing impaired persons that communicate using American Sign
Language or need an oral interpreter, professional interpreters are available
on a contractual basis or may be hired by the agency.  Many hearing
individuals that can converse using sign language are not qualified to be
sign language interpreters.  This is a specialized skill requiring years of
training.  Arrangements for a certified sign language interpreter should be
made for interpreting at meetings, conferences, and training courses.  When
arranging for interpreter services for a specific meeting or event the
following questions will need to be answered before the interpreter service
can provide a qualified interpreter.


   - What is the date, time, and location of the meeting?

   - Who will they be interpreting for?  Is it for one specific
     person or for a group of people?  If it is for a group of deaf
     individuals, how many are expected?

   - Which sign language is preferred?  Many deaf individuals prefer
     American Sign Language, but some may prefer Signed English or a
     different version of sign language.  Some deaf individuals do not
     know sign language, but rely on having an oral interpreter who
     will mouth the speakers' words and give additional visual cues to
     the deaf individual to assist with accurate lip reading.  If
     interpreter services are being secured for an individual, they
     should be asked what version of sign language they prefer.

   - What is the topic of the meeting?  If it is a technical meeting,
     a sign language interpreter proficient in those signs pertinent to
     the topic will be needed.

   - How long is the meeting?  Sign language interpretation can be
     very tiring for the interpreter.  If a meeting will exceed two
     hours, typically two interpreters are needed so they can take
     turns throughout the meeting.

   - Will the interpreter be voicing for the deaf individual or only
     signing what is spoken?  Some deaf individuals speak clearly and
     would rather speak for themselves.  Others are non-vocal or do not
     feel they speak clearly enough in public situations and prefer
     that the interpreter voice what they sign.

Other interpreter related considerations that should be taken into account are:

   - Positioning - In an auditorium, the interpreter should be
     positioned on the stage or platform close to the speaker.  The
     deaf individuals watching the interpreter will be watching both
     the speaker for visual cues and the interpreter for the sign
     language interpretation.  In a team meeting where several
     individuals will be talking, the interpreter should be positioned
     where the deaf individual can see the interpreter clearly and
     still be able to participate fully in the meeting.

   - Lighting - Adequate lighting is essential for the interpreter to
     be seen clearly.  This is particularly important to consider when
     overheads or slides are going to be used and room lighting turned
     down.  A spotlight that can be directed on the interpreter may be
     a good option in this situation since the interpreter will need to
     be positioned where both the viewing screen and the interpreter
     can be seen.

   - Seating - In an auditorium or a large meeting, seating in the
     front few rows should be reserved for individuals who need to
     watch the sign language interpreter.  All the efforts to have an
     interpreter present will not accomplish the intended effect if the
     individuals who need the service are not able to clearly see the

Signalling systems 

For a person that is hard of hearing or deaf, the normal sounds and tones
that alert us to take action, such as a phone ringing, may not be heard.
Frequently, a TDD or TDD compatible device will be purchased without giving
any thought to how the hearing impaired individual will be able to determine
they have an incoming call.  A non-auditory mechanism needs to be provided to
alert the individual to telephone rings and other important sounds such as a
door buzzer, fire alarm, or other emergency alarm.  Several approaches should
be considered when determining the best method of alerting a hard of hearing
or deaf individual by a non-auditory mechanism.

Non-auditory alerts:

   - Flashing light - Devices can be connected to a transmitter that
     directs a signal to a receiver that causes a light to flash on and
     off.  The transmitters can be set to cause the light to flash in a
     different pattern for different devices so the individual knows
     what action is needed. Considerations:
      - Can the individual see the flashing light from anywhere they are
	likely to be in the office?

   - Vibrating personal alerting device - An alternative to the
     flashing light that is more effective in some cases, is a
     vibrating personal alerting device.  The personal alerting device
     can provide notification of several sounds through distinct
     indicator lights for the phone, door buzzer, and emergency alarms.

      - One key disadvantage of using this device for emergency alarm
	signal notification is the limited range of the transmitters.
	Currently, many of the vibrating personal alerting devices have an
	effective range limitation of 100 feet from the transmitter to the

      - What are the specific alerts that need to be activated?

      - How many different alerts are there?

      - Where is the device worn so the person feels the vibration?
	Some are designed to be worn on a belt or waistband.  Others are
	designed to be worn on the wrist.  Is it comfortable enough and
	unobtrusive enough that the individual will wear it on a
	consistent basis?

      - What is the battery life?  Does the device have a low battery

   - Beepers/pagers - Many beepers commonly in use now have an option
     to have the beeper vibrate rather than emit an auditory signal.
     Beepers that also have the ability to display alpha characters in
     addition to numbers may offer significant advantages in augmenting
     other alerting systems or communications systems in the office.
     An alpha/numeric beeper with the vibrating option can be used for
     short messages about changes in meeting plans, building
     emergencies, etc. Considerations:
      - What is the range of the beeper?

      - How quickly is the signal transmitted to the beeper from the
	time the message is initiated?

      - How is the message initiated?  via touch-tone telephone keypad?
	from a "message station" PC? through a special operator?

      - Does the device have a low battery indicator?

      - Will the beeper keep repeating the message until some action is
	taken by the user (e.g. pushing a button on the beeper) or is it
	given one time only?

      - What is the limit on the message length?

   - Fire alarms - A combination of several approaches may be
     necessary to provide deaf individuals adequate notification of
     emergency alarms.  Possibilities include:

      - Many existing building fire alarm systems can be wired to
	transmit a signal to one of the vibrating personal alerting
	devices mentioned above.  A transmitter might need to be connected
	to each fire alarm to give full coverage for the individual
	throughout the building since the range limitation of each
	transmitter is approximately 100 feet.

      - Fire systems can be adapted to also generate a message to a
	beeper when the fire alarms are activated.

      - There are fire alarm systems that meet the building code
	requirements for office buildings that add a strobe light to the
	existing fire system.  These systems may address the need to alert
	any hearing impaired visitors to the building in addition to
	regular employees.  Care should be taken to ensure the strobe
	lights can be seen from conference rooms, and other public access
	areas, not just the hallways.

      - There are also smaller smoke alarms, similar to those used for
	home use, that have both the auditory signal and a strobe light.
	These may be placed in the office of hearing impaired employees to
	augment the building wide system, but should not be the sole
	method of alerting the individual to a fire in the building.  By
	the time a local smoke alarm is activated, it may be too late to
	safely exit a large Federal building.

Auditory alerts:

   - Tone amplification - For some hard of hearing individuals, a
     visual alerting system may not be necessary if the auditory input
     can be modified.  Considerations:

      - Frequency range - Telephones can often be equipped with a tone
	ringer device that converts the normal ring of the phone into a
	frequency range more easily heard by the individual.

      - Tone intensity - A device can be added that makes the ring
	significantly louder.  The general office setting and the need to
	protect the hearing of others in the same office area needs to be
	considered prior to significantly amplifying a telephone ring.


Videos are increasingly being used within the Federal government.  Deaf and
hard of hearing individuals are often unable to fully utilize or benefit from
videos since videos often rely heavily on auditory information.  Captioning
videos makes this medium fully accessible to hearing impaired individuals.
There are two types of captions: open captions and closed captions.  The
closed caption format provides an embedded signal with the printed words
synchronized to the spoken dialogue.  To project the embedded signal as
captioned words on the screen, the video player must be connected to a
telecaption decoder.  Without the decoder, a closed captioned video looks
just like a video that has not been captioned.

When open captioning is used, a telecaption decoder is not needed.  The
captioning is displayed any time the video is played. Open captioning ensures
that videos are accessible to hearing impaired individuals from all video
players.  Any office that has access to a video player can show the video in
a fully accessible format for hearing impaired individuals.  In addition, if
the viewing room is noisy, or portions of the auditory output from the video
are unclear, then the captioning benefits all the viewers.

Any video-based media produced for instructional, training, or informational
purposes either by an agency or for an agency should be captioned so the
information presented is accessible to hearing-impaired viewers.  There are
several organizations available on a contract basis that will provide the
expertise to either open caption or close caption videos.  In addition, there
are several PC based packages that enable the agency to open caption or close
caption their own videos.  When the video is first being planned, captioning
should be discussed with the graphics department that will be performing the
actual video filming.  The composition of the shot may need to be changed
slightly to ensure that no critical or key elements of the visual display
will be lost when the captioning is overlaid on the bottom lines of the

When the agency is purchasing videos, they should inquire about the
availability of the video in a captioned format.  When purchasing video
tapes, it may be possible to obtain permission from the copyright holder to
caption the videos if they are not available in a captioned format.


TDD Units

Many deaf and speech impaired individuals use a TDD (telecommunications
device for the deaf) to communicate over the telephone.  A TDD is also used
by many hard of hearing individuals that are not adequately accommodated by a
telephone amplification device.  A TDD permits a hearing impaired person to
communicate over a standard telephone line with another TDD user or through a
relay operator to reach a non-TDD user.  The TDD displays a line of text for
the person to read rather than using auditory output like a standard phone or
a phone equipped with an amplification device.  TDDs are also commonly
referred to as TTYs, their older name.  There is a fairly broad range of TDD
and TDD compatible devices available.  Considerations:

   - ASCII and Baudot compatibility - TDDs have traditionally used
     the older 5 bit, 45.5 baud Baudot code for communications.  This
     code is significantly different from the PC ASCII code that many
     computer users in the Federal government are more familiar with
     using.  Some TDDs are able to accept calls from both the older
     model Baudot only TDD and from the newer Baudot and ASCII TDDs or
     from personal computers sending at 300 Baud ASCII.  TDDs that
     support Baudot only are rapidly becoming obsolete technology as
     more TDDs that support both Baudot and ASCII are being produced
     and used.

   - Display - The LED display that is used to display the
     information being received on the TDD can be either a single line
     display or multi-line.  Multi- line displays may offer 2 lines, 4
     lines or even 25 lines.  The lines may be from 20 characters to 80
     characters on a line.  The size of the display and the characters
     themselves can also be different from device to device.  The
     nature of the work being done may indicate a need for a multi-line
     display.  The amount of time spent using the TDD or a visual
     impairment may indicate the need for a large character display
     that works with the TDD.

   - Printer capability - Some TDDs have a built-in printer.  Many
     others have a printer port that will allow a TDD printer to be
     connected.  The nature of the work and the need for taking notes
     during a conversation would help determine the need for a TDD
     printer.  It is difficult to both read the LED display as it
     scrolls new information and take legible notes at the same time.
     If the individual is often receiving addresses or listings of
     information such as model numbers and pricing using their TDD, a
     printer may be needed.

   - Direct connect or acoustic coupler connection? - Many TDDs may
     be used with a direct connect mode that allows the phone cable
     from the wall to be directly plugged into the TDD.  Others have an
     acoustic coupler that the regular telephone handset is placed on
     when a call is received.  Many TDDs, have options for both the
     direct connect and acoustic coupler methods of connection.  Which
     connection method is used depends upon the preferences of the user
     and the office setting.  If the phone is going to be used for both
     voice and TDD calls, then using the phone handset with the
     acoustic coupler is preferred.  If the phone line is being used as
     a TDD only line, then the direct connect method may be preferred,
     but not always.  For offices on a digital phone network, the phone
     network itself will need to be taken into consideration.  Using a
     TDD through the acoustic coupler presents no problems.  For a
     direct connection, either a digital to analog board may need to be
     added to the telephone system for that line or an analog line may
     need to be installed.  Consult the agency telecommunications
     specialist on this issue.

   - Shared use or single person? - Many TDDs in the Federal
     government are purchased for use by a single Federal employee who
     is a TDD user.  Others are purchased by offices that need to be
     TDD accessible for public inquiries or inquiries from Federal
     employees that are TDD users.  Examples are personnel offices, EEO
     offices, libraries, IG offices, and offices like the Clearinghouse
     on Computer Accommodation.  If the TDD is going to be used by
     several people in an office then having a TDD that can operate on
     battery power may be important.  The TDD could stay plugged in to
     charge the battery, but when a TDD call was received, anyone in
     the office could move the TDD to their desk and use it on battery
     mode.  Shared use considerations:

      - Where will the TDD be positioned?  Does everyone have adequate
	access to it?  How close are all the phones or people that need to
	share the TDD?

      - Who will be responsible for ensuring it is charged and in
	working condition?  - If a printer is needed, would an internal
	printer be easier to move and use than an external printer?

   - Rollover - If a number is listed as either a TDD number or a
     voice and TDD number, consideration needs to be given to where
     that phone line "rolls" to when it is in use or not answered.  If
     the line automatically transfers to a second line or to another
     office, that office will need a TDD to respond to incoming TDD

   - Portability - For a deaf employee who travels extensively, a
     second portable unit may be needed.  Some portable TDDs fit in the
     inside pocket of a man's suit jacket.  Considerations:

      - How important is portability?  

      - How much travel does the individual do?  Both local travel to
	other offices that do not have a TDD and travel out of town should
	be considered.

      - Are both Baudot and ASCII capabilities needed?  Some portable
	TDDs offer the ASCII option.

      - Should a portable TDD be purchased for a specific individual or
	should several units be purchased for the agency and available for
	checkout on an as needed basis?

Personal Computer TDD Compatibility

A personal computer can also be configured to function as a TDD by adding a
special PC/TDD modem that supports both the standard PC code (ASCII) and the
code used by most TDDs (Baudot).  Commonly used PC modems are not able to
communicate with a Baudot only TDD.  Since there are so many of the older
Baudot only TDDs in use, one of the specialized modems that supports both
Baudot and ASCII is needed.  Considerations:

   - PC availability - Does the individual already have a PC? 

   - Connection to the PC - some TDD compatible modems are internal
     and use a board slot inside the PC.  Others are external modems
     and require a serial port.  Which method of connection is

   - Connection to the telephone system - Both the internal and
     external modems require a connection to a telephone line to be
     operational.  For offices using a digital phone network or those
     using electronic key phone sets, the phone network itself will
     need to be taken into consideration.  For a direct connection,
     either a digital to analog board may need to be added to the
     telephone system for that line or an analog line may need to be
     installed.  Consult the agency telecommunications specialist on
     this issue.

   - Other PC use - In most cases, the PC is going to be used for
     other applications and not be a dedicated TDD.  Considerations:

      - Call notification - How is the PC user notified when there is an
	incoming call?  Some packages will make the screen flash to
	indicate an incoming call.  Some will automatically switch the
	user to the TDD communication mode.  Others rely on having an
	external signalling device installed between the phone line and
	the modem to alert the individual.

      - TDD to PC Application Switch - If a PC application program is in
	use, how easy is it for the user to switch into the TDD
	communication mode?  Some packages offer an easy "hot key"
	function that will quickly switch to the TDD communication mode
	and then allow the user to return to their application package
	where they were working when the call was received or initiated.
	Other packages require the user to save the file they are working
	in, exit the application package and then enter the TDD
	communication mode.  In this case, there are optional memory
	management programs that could be added to the PC system to ease
	the transition between the application package and the TDD
	communication package.  It would be up to the user to find,
	install, and configure the memory management solution to work with
	the TDD communications package.

      - Call volume and type - How many calls are expected to be
	received each day?  Will a high call volume interfere with using
	the PC application packages?  Do the calls received require the
	individual to be looking up information on the PC in order to
	respond?  In most packages, if the TDD call is left on hold or
	inactive for a long period, the modem will assume the call was
	interrupted or completed and break the connection.

      - Portability - Does the lack of portability of a PC based
	solution cause a problem?  Would the individual possibly need a
	standard TDD or portable TDD in addition to the PC based TDD
	communication capability?

   - Other Features - PC based TDD communication packages and modems
     offer additional features that may be important to the user or the
     office installing the system.  Some of these are:

      - Auto-answer capability - The PC can be configured to have the
	TDD compatible modem and software automatically answer calls when
	the user is away.  The message given can be customized and changed
	as needed.  The incoming callers can leave a message that is
	stored on the PC.  Since the PC is being used for incoming message
	storage, a significantly larger volume of messages may be stored
	than with a standard TDD with auto-answer capabilities.

      - Speed dialing - Several of the packages offer a phone listing
	mechanism for automated dialing of outgoing calls.

      - Speech output - There is one TDD compatible modem that combines
	this capability with a mechanism for synthesized speech so the PC
	can be used to speak messages to a hearing caller using a standard
	voice phone.  The hearing caller is able to reply to the hearing
	impaired individual using this modem device by using the touch
	tone pad of their telephone.  The hearing caller may find using
	the touch tone pad of their telephone cumbersome for a long
	conversation.  For some situations, this unique combination may be
	quite useful.  This modem makes it possible for the PC user to
	initiate or accept calls from a TDD, a PC using ASCII
	communications, or a hearing caller using a standard touch tone

      - Remote message retrieval - Some packages are able to provide the
	user with the capability to call in from a remote location and
	retrieve the messages stored on their PC by the TDD compatible
	software.  For an individual doing extensive traveling, this may
	be a very important feature.

      - Call storage - Several of the packages allow the contents of a
	call, both sides of the conversation, to be saved and printed.

      - Customized stored messages - Several packages allow the user to
	create a message, such as their address, store it, and in the
	middle of a conversation with a TDD caller, retrieve and send that
	message to the caller.  This can be very useful if the individual
	often gives the same information to many callers such as
	directions to the office, listings of information, or answers to
	commonly asked questions.

      - PC file use - Some packages allow the user to transmit a PC
	ASCII file in the same manner as any customized stored messages
	created within the TDD communication software package.

   - Hardware configuration and software compatibility considerations 

      - See the "General Hardware Configuration and Software
	Compatibility Considerations" listed at the beginning of this

      - Is the PC used for making large database searches or other
	similar tasks that occupy the PC for long periods of time in a
	mode that could not be interrupted for the user to accept an
	incoming call?

      - If the PC is used in a terminal emulation mode, how long can the
	user stay on a call before the emulation software would drop them?

      - Secure agencies - some of the secure agencies will not allow any
	modems, internal or external, to be connected to many of the PCs
	in the agency.  In addition, tempesting requirements may present
	another barrier to using a TDD compatible modem.


Speech Amplification for Telephones 

There are several methods of amplifying the speech being heard over a
telephone.  There are devices designed both for people who use a hearing aid
and for those who do not use a hearing aid.

   - Handset amplification - The standard telephone handset can be
     replaced by a handset that has an amplification device.  The
     amplification handset usually has a rotary dial for adjusting the
     amount of amplification needed.  Considerations:

      - Amplification level - How much amplification is needed?  Up to
	30 db of amplification is available depending upon the specific
	handset chosen.  Some amplification handsets require the user to
	press a button to boost the amplification to its highest levels.
	This is a safety feature to protect the hearing of a person that
	does not have a hearing impairment that may use that phone.

      - Telephone style - What style of telephone will the device be
	used with?  There are handsets available as replacements for the
	standard round handset (G style), or the newer square handset (K
	style), or the square with the electronic microscreen style

   - In-line amplification - An alternative to using an amplification
     handset is to use an in-line amplification device.  Most in-line
     amplification devices are small devices that plug in between the
     telephone base and the existing phone handset.  An advantage of
     in-line amplifiers is that they add no weight to the telephone
     handset.  Considerations:

      - Amplification level - How much amplification is needed?  Volume
	increases up to 20 db are possible with an in-line amplification
	device.  The volume can be adjusted by turning a control wheel
	located on the device.

      - Telephone style - What style of telephone will the device be
	used with?  Some in-line amplifiers are designed to work with
	specific types of telephone systems.  Others are designed to be
	universal and work with all modular handset telephones, including
	the newer electronic type phones.

      - Power needs - Is there an electric power outlet located
	conveniently?  Most in-line amplification devices require
	connection to a standard AC power source.

   - Portable amplification devices - Even though a telephone handset
     is small enough to be considered portable, there is an even
     smaller, more portable option available.  It is a small battery
     powered device that fits over the receiver on the telephone
     handset.  A stretch strap holds the device in place.

      - Amplification level - What is the level of amplification needed?
	Portable devices can be used for up to 20 db of amplification.

      - Non-modular jack phones - Does the individual need amplification
	for telephones that do not have a modular connection for the
	handset.  Most public phones or phones in hotels do not have a
	modular connection that would allow a handset amplification device
	or an in-line amplification device to be connected.  Office phones
	in some settings are also non-modular.

   - Specialized phones - There are phones available that have been
     specifically designed for individuals with a hearing loss in the
     high frequency range.  The individual selects the appropriate
     volume using a control button on the phone set.  Having the
     amplification built into the body of the phone results in a
     lighter telephone handset than the handsets that have been
     modified to provide amplification.  Considerations:

	 - Compatibility - Will the phone work with the telephone system
	   installed at the work site?  Can the same features available to
	   others in the office be accessed using this phone set?

	 - Single site vs multiple sites - Does the individual have the
	   need for telephone amplification only at one location?  If the
	   individual may need to use several different telephones, a
	   combination of a specialized phone at their primary worksite and
	   one of the other amplification devices at the other sites may be

   Speech Amplification - Meeting or Conversation 

   There are several different speech amplification devices that can be used by
   hard of hearing individuals in either a meeting or lecture setting.  The
   needs for the two settings differ based on the need to be hearing the
   information being spoken by a single person or the need to hear several
   different people in a more interactive conversation or discussion mode.  The
   needs in different settings will be discussed first and then the different
   types of devices that can be used.


   - One-to-one meeting - Many hard of hearing individuals can
     understand the majority of a conversation in a one-to-one setting
     without the use of an amplification device if the speaker speaks
     clearly, faces the individual, does not restrict visibility of
     mouth movements by a mustache or their hands, does not look down
     while speaking, and there is a minimum of other background noise
     distractions.  If the speaker turns away from the hard of hearing
     individual, looks down to read paperwork as they are talking, or
     has a tendency to mumble, an amplification device may help make
     conversations easier for the hard of hearing individual to fully
     understand.  Even in situations where the speaker and the listener
     are able to communicate adequately, an assistive listening device
     may make conversations easier and less fatiguing for the hard of
     hearing individual.

   - Lecture setting - The lecture setting exhibits the same
     potential problems in understanding what is spoken as the
     one-to-one setting, plus a few more.  In a lecture setting the
     speaker is usually further away from the hard of hearing
     individual.  This can significantly decrease the visual cues the
     individual has available to augment what they are hearing.  In
     many cases, the lighting conditions are less than optimal for the
     hard of hearing individual to be able to clearly see the speakers
     lips and face.  This is particularly true if an overhead projector
     or slides are being used.

   - Group meeting setting - In a group meeting where several
     different people may be speaking in a more relaxed and spontaneous
     manner, additional difficulties are present.  Since the meeting is
     spontaneous, the hard of hearing individual may have difficulty
     following who is actually speaking and miss quite a bit before
     they know which individual to be focusing on.  In addition, it is
     not always possible to see each person clearly, especially if
     their remarks are being directed to someone in the opposite
     direction.  There is also a high potential for distracting noises
     such as papers, people shifting, and side conversations taking

Types of Systems:

   - FM system - Most FM systems basically consist of a transmitter
     and a receiver that work together.  The transmitter connects to a
     microphone that a speaker would either wear, such as a lapel
     microphone, or have placed near them.  The speaker's voice is
     broadcast as an FM radio signal to the receiver.  The hard of
     hearing person with the receiver can use either a set of
     headphones similar to those used with a portable radio, or if they
     use a hearing aid, a neck loop that will transmit to the T-coil in
     their hearing aid.

   - Induction loop system - A loop system consists of an amplifier
     that drives an audio signal and a loop of wiring that is typically
     around the perimeter area of the meeting room.  A variety of
     microphones can be plugged into the amplifier depending on the
     setting of the meeting.  The amplified audio signal creates an
     electromagnetic field within the area inside the loop.  An
     individual who is wearing a hearing aid with a T-coil pickup
     receives the electromagnetic signal produced by the loop as long
     as the individual is within the loop.  An individual without a
     hearing aid can wear a receiver and headphones to pickup the
     signal.  The wiring loop can be either permanently installed in
     either the ceiling or around the seating area of a room on the
     floor.  The loop can also be temporarily installed on an as needed
     basis if the system is going to be used rarely or in different
     rooms.  If it is placed on the floor, it should be taped in place
     securely to ensure it does not pose a potential hazard for
     tripping people.

   - Infrared system - An infrared system works using an infrared
     transmitted signal instead of a sound based signal.  The number of
     infrared transmitters needed to adequately cover all areas of a
     room differs based on the size and shape of the room.  Secure
     agencies are particularly interested in infrared systems instead
     of FM or loop systems that produce radio or audio signals.  The
     individual needing amplification would use a receiver and neck
     loop or headset depending on whether they use a hearing aid or


   - Portability - Several of these systems are small enough and
     simple enough to use to be highly portable.

      - Is the system being purchased for use in one room or several?

      - Does the need exist for a portable system that could be taken to
	a site for training classes?  For instance, an individual using an
	FM system may take the system to a training class.  The instructor
	would be given a small lapel microphone and FM transmitter to
	wear.  The hearing impaired individual would wear the FM receiver.
	The transmitter and receiver units are small enough to easily fit
	in a suit pocket.

   - Group meetings vs one-to-one meetings

      - In what type of setting does the individual spend most of their time?

      - What setting presents the most hearing difficulty for the individual?

   - Earphones vs Audio Loop - Does the user prefer to wear earphones
     to hear the amplified sound?  If so, what type (e.g. radio type,
     under the chin version, ear buds, etc.)?  If the user wears a
     hearing aid, would they prefer the neck loop that will communicate
     to the T-coil in the hearing aid?

   - Meeting room usage - If the system is being purchased primarily
     for providing access in a conference room or auditorium there are
     additional considerations:

      - Should the amplification system be wired directly into the
	existing PA system?  Or should the speaker wear a small lapel
	microphone for the FM or loop system in addition to using the
	existing public address system?

      - How large is the room?

      - Are several adjacent rooms also going to be using amplification
	devices?  If so, will this present any interference problems?  

      - How many people will need amplification?  How many have hearing
	aids with a T-coil?

      - Is technical support available for installing the system properly?

Other considerations:

   - FM systems may experience interference from nearby radio transmissions. 

   - Since there are several frequencies that can be used by FM
     systems, two FM systems can be used in close proximity as long as
     they are using different frequencies.

   - Loop systems are also susceptible to interference from radios
     and some types of electrical equipment such as metal detectors and
     some electric motors.

   - FM and loop system transmissions are subject to being "over
     heard" and may not be appropriate for areas where the security of
     the information must be ensured (e.g. secure agencies, procurement
     offices, courtrooms, etc.).

   - Infrared systems may not work well in rooms with a large amount
     of sunlight.

   - Infrared systems depend on maintaining the "line of sight" from
     the emitter to the receiver.

   - If several loop systems are setup near each other, there may be
     some spill- over of the signal transmitted to the loop system.