Veterans and others with hearing loss can receive free assistive technology for captioned telephone service from participating providers on their home phones, mobile phones and other communication apps. Real-time transcriptions of communication are a vital service for those who rely on their phones to stay connected with family and friends, and to communicate with health care professionals and emergency responders.

Veterans of all ages can benefit from captioned telephone service, as they are disproportionately affected by hearing loss. Hearing loss is not just due to degeneration from aging; Veterans are 30% more likely than non-Veterans to have a hearing impairment.

What is Captioned Telephone Service?

Captioned telephone service enables people with hearing loss to speak during a phone call and then read the other person’s response in real time as transcriptions appear directly on their telephone or an app. This service is known as Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), and it uses a combination of automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and skilled transcribers, or ASR technology.

ASR is the same technology that systems like Alexa and Siri use to translate voice commands.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that captioned telephone service be “functionally equivalent” to communication technology used by individuals without hearing loss. This service is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

CLICK HERE to learn more about how captioned telephone service works.

Who is Eligible for Captioned Telephone Service and What does it Cost?

This technology service is free to service members and Veterans, including their loved ones and anyone with hearing loss.

Vietnam Veteran and captioned telephone user Ronald Drach says this service is “invaluable” and “life-changing.”

Vietnam Veteran Robert Richardson agrees, saying, “This technology, above all others, has had a major impact on my quality of life. I’d say it’s a lifesaver. I use it to communicate with my children, and I use it to communicate with my friends and my doctors and other healthcare providers. I use it to stay engaged in my community. I may be retired from work, but not from life.”

CLICK HERE to listen to stories of those who have benefited from hearing assistance technologies.

How to Get Free Captioned Telephone Service

Several providers offer captioned telephone service. When registering for this service with providers, the FCC requires individuals to self-certify that they have hearing loss necessitating telephone captioning. Some providers may require professional certification from a physician, audiologist or other hearing-health professional.

CLICK HERE for a list of captioned telephone service providers.

The Clear2Connect Coalition, comprised of disability advocacy and Veterans Service Organizations, advocates on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing communities to have access to quality, accurate communication technology.

For more information on how to access free captioned telephone service, to learn about Clear2Connect Coalition’s advocacy efforts, and to sign up for their updates, visit the  Clear2Connect Coalition website or email them at: info@clear2connect.org.


The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of VA.

ShopVCS name brandsMarch is the perfect month to discover your ShopVCS benefits
graphic for veteran and military year round discountsVeteran discounts available year round

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

17 Comments

  1. YOLANDA SULLIVAN March 25, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    After reading this article I have started using the CAPTIONMATE app on my iPhone XR. the setup was easy and what I did not understand, customer service helped me with the rest. I now have my voicemail transcribed in big easy lettering, which you can resize yourself.
    The best part is, I no longer have to pay for this service thru Verizon. I’m giving this app 5-Stars

  2. Don Hurcombe March 25, 2021 at 2:03 am

    Hey,
    I am a veteran with hearing aids and other disabilities. I am interested in this program and Sprint is my provider.unless I missed it,I couldn’t figure how to get it.

  3. Walter W. Crites March 25, 2021 at 12:31 am

    There are seven captioned telephone providers via your link. Have you or anyone else done a comparison study to determine which one is best? For example, I have been using Hamilton CapTel for several years, but it has one serious fault – when a number is dialed by the deaf person, there is no way to signal the person/organization/robot at the receiving end, that a deaf person is on the line and that actual communication has a time lag for a response. I cannot tell you how many times I have initiated a telephone call only to have the recipient hang up on me because their response was not captioned quickly enough for me to reply. This is especially a problem with automatic answering which most organizations now you use. CapTel does have a small blinking cursor in the lower corner of its screen that is supposed to let one know when to speak, but it is less than useful. So, are any of the remaining six providers able to overcome this problem? Thank you.

    • Karen Herson March 25, 2021 at 8:19 pm

      The purpose of this blog is to let people know about the providers approved by the FCC and spread awareness about the availability of captioned telephone service. I am sorry to hear about your issues. I suggest you reach out to the other providers who I am certain can help answer your questions.

  4. Ellsworth Keith Gerritz March 24, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    Can the VA assist me in finding a better, adjustable-volume hardwired telephone with more volume than our 25+ year old wall-mounted phone that provides words that are clear to one of my VA hearing aids so that I can hear and understand the caller’s intended meaning? Please call or email me. Thank you.

  5. Ellsworth Keith Gerritz March 24, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Several years ago at the prompting of our adult daughter, I investigated captioned phone service to discovered that we would need to purchase internet service which was expensive at that time.
    Our television service comes via rooftop antenna from Cincinnati, and Dayton, but not Columbus.
    We maintain a 25 year old hardwired wallphone kept on the highest volume setting and served by our contract with Frontier.

    Perhaps a newer telephone with greater volume would serve us for now, but I need help from the VA to locate the appropriate telephone as our local Walmart seems to be the only source of amplified, hardwired telephones in Wilmington, and I have not examined their telephones yet.

    At present it is difficult for me, even with two VA hearing aids, to have enough volume to hear words clearly enough to understand the meaning that the caller intended me to understand.
    Does the VA have the resources and experience to help me locate and purchase a tested phone with adjustable volume which is clear enough and loud enough for me to understand them?
    I clearly need help in finding a phone that is functional for me in our home. Please contact me.

    • Karen Herson March 25, 2021 at 8:27 pm

      The captioned telephone is available at no cost for people with hearing loss. Please connect with one of the providers that will help you resolve your issue and help you connect with a phone that works for you. Here is the link: https://clear2connect.org/learn-how-to-access/

  6. Karen Herson March 22, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    Please visit this link to see the list of captioned telephone service providers: https://clear2connect.org/learn-how-to-access/
    One of these providers can get you the phone.

  7. Bruce Peterson March 22, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Jason, you can click this like https://clear2connect.org/what-is-ip-cts/ and you’ll go to the Clear2Connect coalition website. ON this page, you can click on the logo of one of the service providers that deliver this service. On the service provide website you can sign up for the service and they will get you set up.

  8. Bruce Peterson March 22, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    Charles, there is a link in the article to the Clear2Connect website that lists the companies that provide this service. You can click on the link to one of the providers where you’ll be able to apply. The application process is simple. The provider will ask if you need captions to use the phone effectively. Each provider will coordinate with you to get started.

  9. Charles Skelton March 20, 2021 at 10:20 am

    How do I get this?

  10. Jason Traxler March 19, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for your informative article.

  11. John N Hatcher March 19, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    What is the enter keywords? Where do I find them?

  12. Mario Cordano March 19, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Hello. I am a veteran with hearing aids and other disabilities.
    I am interested in this program to be given closed captioning on my phone.
    I clicked on the link for providers and did not see Verizon Wireless listed.
    Can you tell me, if you know, please if Verizon is an available provider for this service?
    Thank you.

    • Bruce Peterson March 22, 2021 at 1:14 pm

      Mario, captioned telephone service is delivered to people on using any telecommunications carrier. Verizon itself doesn’t deliver the service. The link in the article (https://clear2connect.org/what-is-ip-cts/) will take you to a website where the companies the provide the service are listed. Click on the logo of one of the companies and you’ll be directed to their website where you can sign up for the service. The sign up process is simple and it won’t require any changes to your current phone carrier. You’ll still use Verizon and the captioned phone service will be provided by the company you choose.

Comments are closed.

You Might Also Be Interested in These Articles