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Telephone devices

Amplified ringers

Various types of ringers can be attached to a telephone line to inform a person who is hard of hearing that the telephone is ringing.

Amplified telephone

Telephones with built-in amplifiers that range from 25 to 55 decibels. Many have variable tone selectors and loud ringers.

Captioned telephone

  • For people who have difficulty hearing over the telephone and prefer to use their voice to communicate.
  • Some captioned telephones require internet service, and some do not. 
  • Captioned calls are made through a relay service. Using a captioned phone the person with the hearing loss can speak and listen to the other party. At the same time the person can read captions of what the other party is saying on the telephone’s display screen.
  • Today, many people are using captioned phones rather than voice carry over telephones.

Portable phone amplifier

A lightweight battery-operated device with an adjustable volume control that fits over the listening end of the handset.


  • A web camera and video screen that allows people who use sign language to make telephone calls.
  • Requires an internet connection. 
  • Calls are made through a video relay service (VRS). A sign language interpreter facilitates communication between the person who uses sign language and the non-signing person.
  • Today, many people use videophone technology rather than a TTY.
  • People who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing may obtain videophones or videophone software from service providers for free. Video Relay Service providers include ConvoGlobalPurple, Sorenson and ZVRS, among others. 

The Telephone Equipment Distribution (TED) Program provides some of these telephone devices to Minnesotans who qualify. Read more about the TED Program.

Fact sheet

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