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Captioned Telephone: New Service Implemented in Louisiana for People with Hearing Loss

(July 30, 2009)

Hamilton Telephone Company, d/b/a Hamilton Telecommunications, today announced an agreement with The Louisiana Relay Administration Board to provide Captioned Telephone service in Louisiana beginning August 1, 2009. Similar to closed captioning provided on most television programs, Captioned Telephone service is designed for individuals who have difficulty hearing on the telephone.

Captioned Telephone (CapTel®) technology, developed by Ultratec, Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin, allows individuals with hearing loss to view word-for-word captions of their telephone conversations using a CapTel phone. This device is ideal for individuals who use their own voice while conversing on the telephone but may have trouble deciphering the words of the other party.

Through the efforts of the Louisiana Relay Administration Board (a board created by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to administer the state-wide program that provides access to telecom services for people who are hard of hearing, deaf, deaf-blind and speech disabled), Louisianans now have a new option available for communicating via the telephone. "We are thrilled to provide CapTel service to the residents of Louisiana as many across the state have expressed interest in the service," says Dixie Ziegler, Vice President of Hamilton Relay. "Hamilton's goal is to provide its customers with the latest developments in telecommunications technology, resulting in services that are functionally equivalent to traditional telephone services."

Individuals with hearing loss in Louisiana have looked forward to the availability of captioned telephone. Ann Boyd, who has lost her hearing, has been active in expressing her desire for the service and is excited about the startup on August 1st, "You could not have given me any better news! I was just thrilled to learn that Louisiana will be offering CapTel services beginning in August to its citizens who are hard of hearing. As you know, it is the news I've been waiting to hear! I am really looking forward to being able to use CapTel when making and receiving calls. With both volume control and captions, the CapTel phone is an effective and comfortable way for those with mild to profound hearing loss to make phone calls to businesses, doctors, dentists, family members, grandchildren and friends with greater ease and understanding."

To make a call, the CapTel user dials the number of the person they wish to call on the CapTel phone. The call is then connected to the service which provides the captioning. Using state-of-the art voice-recognition technology, a specially trained operator "re-voices" everything said by the standard telephone user, converting speech into text. The captions appear almost simultaneously with the spoken word, allowing CapTel users to understand everything that is said by listening along with reading the CapTel phone's screen. The CapTel phone features adjustable levels of amplification which extend to an additional 35 dB and works in conjunction with a hearing aid's telecoil. CapTel is a telephone designed to allow the user to have natural back and forth conversations with the support of captions.

Residents of Louisiana are invited to attend a 60 minute demonstration of the Captioned Telephone service on Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 10:00 AM in the Louisiana Relay Service Center's training room, 9107 Bluebonnet Centre Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA. If you are unable to attend this event, information about the service and how to obtain a CapTel phone will be available at the 2nd Annual Summer Picnic at Highland Road Park on Saturday, August 8, 2009 from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

Hamilton has arranged, for a limited time only, to make the CapTel phone available for $99.00 (retail value of $495). This offer comes with a 90-day trial period, which guarantees that if the customer is not entirely happy with the CapTel phone, s/he can return the phone for a full refund within 3 months.

For more information about CapTel, including how to obtain a CapTel phone, please contact:

Louisiana Relay Customer Service
9107 Bluebonnet Centre Blvd.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Voice/TTY: 1-866-560-1452
Fax: 225-293-3583
E-mail: larelay@hamiltonrelay.com

About Hamilton Relay
Hamilton Relay offers a variety of services including Traditional Relay Services, Captioned Telephone (CapTel®), and Internet Relay. Hamilton provides traditional relay and/or CapTel services to 17 states, the District of Columbia, the Island of Saipan and the Virgin Islands. All services are available at www.hamiltonrelay.com.

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