One of my earliest childhood memories was learning the sign language alphabet. Yes, my grandmother was deaf, not hard-of-hearing, but 100 percent deaf, BUT, she could speak with little issue. As an 8 year-old, she was stricken with spinal meningitis and as a result of that, she permanently lost her hearing.

She was a proud woman and did not let her "disability" get in her way. She was a big part of the deaf community and excelled at her job at G.E. in Lynn. Before this sounds completely like an obituary, I'll get to the point.

She was close to us as kids, visiting us every Wednesday night for dinner. Around the age of twelve, I used to call her at home every once in awhile. How the heck do you call someone who can't hear?

St. Dominic's Facebook
St. Dominic's Facebook

Well, before the world of texting exploded, there was and still is the Massachusetts Relay System. The photo above is literally identical to the machine (TTY) teletypewriter device I had in my house as a kid.

Today, TTY relay services, the original and now “traditional” relay service, can be reached by anyone by dialing 711 from a telephone or TTY. Telecommunications Relay Services permit persons with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone system via a text telephone (TTY) or other device to call persons with or without such disabilities.

To make using TRS as simple as possible, you can simply dial 711 to be automatically connected to a TRS operator. It's fast, functional and free. Dialing 711, both voice and TRS users can initiate a call from any telephone, anywhere in the United States, without having to remember and dial a seven or ten-digit access number. -FCC

The operator on the other end of the TTY would let the hearing person know what the user of the TTY was typing and vice versa. The technology at the time was pretty cool. Smartphones and texting haven't made the system obsolete, however, it has certainly lessened the need for it. For what it's worth, it'll always be a cherished childhood memory for me.

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