SC Telecommunicatioms Equipment Distribution Program

Folks,

My father is in a nursing home. He is very hearing impaired. When I visited him over the weekend, he asked me to get a telephone installed in his room as he's been there for two months and has had very little contact with anyone (other than the small complement of family and a couple of local friends that are regularly visiting). Some of our very distantly located relatives have expressed that they'd like to be able to call him and see how he is doing. When I talked with the head nurse, she told me that the nursing home had no issue with that and that I could go right ahead. They even have duplex RJ-11 wall faceplates in the room so the installation should be very simple for Bellsouth to do.

I wanted to see about getting him a phone that would be effective in view of his hearing impairment. I did some searching on the Internet over the weekend and discovered that the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind provides telecommunications equipment for the Deaf, Blind, and Hearing Impaired (the capitalizations are politically correct according to Deaf culture rules of spelling and grammar, by the way) in the state of SC. They do this through a program called the South Carolina Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (SC TEDP).

I contacted SC TEDP this morning right after I ordered the phone line (which they are going to install in his room on Thursday). I was able to download most of the paperwork from their Web site. They have a wide number of different phones and other assistive devices (visual ringers for the Deaf and Hearing impaired and even a Weather radio). You can check their Web site at

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for information about SC TEDP. In the event you live in SC and have family members who have these disabilities, I'd suggest you contact them. They provide assistive devices to anyone who is certified to have one (or more) of these disabilities.

I had to go to my father's audiologist's office and have them fill out and sign the form certifying that he was tested and found to be hearing impaired. I also had to fill out a one page requisition form. And I had to get proof he had telephone service where he is living right now.

Whoops. The service hasn't been installed yet much less do we have a bill for it. I called Bellsouth and asked them to FAX me a copy of the service order. I explained why. I was told it would be FAXed in the next few minutes. I waited a good bit of time and called back. This agent emailed the other agent. He responded and said he'd already FAXed it but he'd FAX it again. After some more time went by, still no FAX. I called back. This agent said that after he said he'd already FAXed it, he probably discovered that he wasn't allowed to FAX it (I asked her to listen to what she just said). I spoke to a supervisor who told me she'd mail it to me. I told her that wouldn't do because I had to go back to Georgia tonight and I needed it to get the special needs phone before the end of the day. She kept repeating that she could mail it and I finally told her not to tell me that again.

Finally (quite some time later), they FAXed me a letter [on Bellsouth letterhead] saying that the service would be installed at his new address on Thursday.

Armed with this letter, the audiologist's certification that Dad is hearing impaired, and the requisition form I had to fill out, I drove over to SC TEDP and met Miss Jessie (the very nice lady I'd spoken to on the phone about getting Dad's assistive unit). She showed me several different models I could choose from. I chose a unit that was really designed for those who are both blind and hearing impaired. It gives up to 35 dB of amplification and has *very* large buttons on the touch tone pad. It also speaks the digits as you dial them.

After stopping to get my lunch plus batteries and a thirteen foot wall cord for the unit, I drove over to see Dad and set up his phone for him. He was happy about that and I told him that he'd get his telephone line on Thursday. I even spoke with the maintenance folks at the nursing home there so they'd know Bellsouth would be coming and be expecting them.

I'll give him a call on Thursday from Georgia and see how well it is working for him.

Our family is very grateful to the folks at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.

Regards,

Fred Atkinson

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Fred Atkinson
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