Here at the ILRC, there are many different programs that serve people with disabilities in the Jacksonville community. Yesterday, we took to the Comcast studios to talk in detail about one of our most beneficial programs.
We are a distribution center for the Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc. (FTRI). FTRI is a statewide non-profit organization that administers free amplified telephones for those who are Hard of Hearing, Deaf, Deaf/Blind and Speech Disabled.
I sat down with Rachal Tarquin, our outreach specialist to find out more information on this great program. Rachal goes out into the community and gives presentations on the phones.
Christina Graw: FTRI is obviously a very valuable program, and the best part is that the phone are completely free to those who qualify. How are the telephones free?
Rachal Tarquin: All landlines in homes across Florida are taxed and then this money is used for the program.
CG: Who is eligible for a phone?
RT: Any Florida resident who is over the age of 3, lives in the state of Florida and is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind or speech impaired qualifies. The phones only work with land line telephones.
CG: Once a person qualifies for the phone what are the next steps they must take to obtain it.
RT: Well, there are a few options. If the person can come into one of the ILRC’s two offices, they can fill out an application or download one online here.
CG: What types of phones are available?
RT: There are a few different models to choose from. We have everything from an amplified cordless phone to an captioned telephone that enables a severely hard of hearing user to speak for themselves and read the incoming response.
CG: So, what is your role in the FTRI program?
RT: I go into the community and talk about the FTRI program, while displaying the phones.
CG: What types of organizations do you generally go to?
RT: There is a wide range, but mostly community health fairs, assisted living homes and churches.
CG: That’s great. If a person attends your presentation and decides they would like a phone can they fill out the application on the spot?
RT: Absolutely. I have applications on site and phones as well. Once the application is filled out, and it’s decided they qualify they can take the phone the day of.
CG: Do you administer a hearing test on site?
RT: Well, the first question I ask is if the person is wearing aids. If they are and I can see them they automatically qualify. If they don’t have hearing aids, I have them take a written test that asks them questions about their current hearing ability. There’s a point system that determines if the person is in need of a phone based on that test.
CG: Great. It sounds like it’s a fairly easy process.
RT: It really is, and I’ve found that once people start using the phones they are very satisfied.
If you would like Rachal to come and give a presentation at your organization simply call 904.399.8484. You can also learn more about the program and the different equipment they offer by clicking here. You can also stop by either of our offices in Duval County at 2709 Art Museum Dr. or in Clay County at 2219 County Road 220, Suite 318, Middleburg, Florida.
Also, tune in to Comcast Channel 99 this Thursday at 7:00 p.m to catch the full interview.