California Offers Telephones for the Hearing Impaired

By Lee Hubbard

When California passed a law in 1979 requiring the California Public Utilities Commission to implement a program to distribute telephone devices to the hearing impaired, the telephone became a form of communication that could be embraced by all.

Now 31 years later, the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) still helps many people communicate. But the program is not as widely used as it could be.   

“There are still people who don’t know that there is access to phones that will help them communicate,” said Sharif Frink, an outreach specialist with CTAP.  

To receive one of the special telephones, a applicant must live in the state, have telephone service and have a form signed by an authorized medical professional,  which certifies that the person has a disability or difficulty using a traditional telephone.

“We provide these phones at no cost to anyone with hearing difficulty,” continued Frink.

The phones can be kept until they are no longer needed. If there are problems with the phone, they will either be fixed or replaced.

“Even if you don’t think that the phone is needed for you, there may be someone else in your family or community who could use the phone,” he said. 

To find out more about program, the location of the nearest service center or obtain an application, go to