I think these have always been free from the state. If you are Deaf, these are not for you as there is no where for you to type, you have to talk to the person. Also, answering machine function with these things is very complex. This is not a TTY.
One more thing, there is a about a ten sec wait for captioning to begin & your caller may hang up.
But it's nice for people who need it.
I'm curious if you actually have one of these or just assuming things.
I actually have one and want to clear up some of your assumptions.
1) These types of things are not always free. CapTel for instance, you are required to pay for your own CapTel and you pay to maintain/repair it out of your own pocket. CaptionCall does not let you buy these outright (I tried because I wanted to see what the value of these were), but instead issues a 1 time $149 licensing fees to use them, unless there is a promo going. In return, CapionCall still owns the phone and maintains and repairs it for you, free of charge.
2) Deaf people can talk. Many deaf people use these.
3) The answering machine function is as simple as pressing 2 buttons and holding the phone up to the answering machine. Very straightforward. Or in the case of voicemail, you put your voicemail access # into the settings. Then it's as simple as pressing 1 button to access your voicemail.
4) There is only about a 3-5 wait for CaptionCall to connect. In which either 1) You are calling someone, by the time they answer, it's captioning already or 2) When you answer, you can answer with "Good morning/evening XXXX residence, who are you calling for?" and by the time they respond, the captioning has already started.
Got my emails from the local installer. He will be coming to my sister's place and installing hers on monday the 7th and confirmed that Sorenson started CaptionCall with their resources to build the company.
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