Telephone Assistance Programs
In 1987, Oregon Legislature passed a law to assure that adequate and affordable residential telephone service is available to all qualifying Oregonians. Based on that legislation, the Public Utility Commission of Oregon implemented three programs which are supported by a surcharge applied to the monthly bill of each retail subscriber who has telephone or cellular service with access to the Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service:
Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP) – Loans adaptive telephone equipment at no cost and with no income restrictions to eligible Oregonians who have a severe hearing, severe speech, vision, cognitive or mobility impairment and cannot benefit from the use of a standard telephone.
In order to receive the equipment, a simple application must be completed and submitted for approval. Qualifying customers are required to complete and sign Section A of the application available in English and Spanish. Depending on the nature of the individual’s disability, a licensed physician, hearing aid specialist, audiologist, speech-language pathologist or vocational rehabilitation counselor must complete Section B certifying that the person requires adaptive equipment in order to communicate on the telephone.
Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP)/ Link-Up America Program – Oregonians who receive one of the following qualifying benefits may receive up to a $13.50 reduction in their monthly bill for local residential telephone service.
- Food Stamps
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
- Supplemental Security Income
- Certain State Medical Programs or Medicaid
The Link-Up America Program helps qualified individuals by paying for one-half (up to $30) of the line connection charges for new residential telephone service. There are approximately 33 residential telephone companies and 4 cellular companies that participate in OTAP. Customers can complete or download applications online available in Spanish, Russian and Vietnamese.
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service (OTRS) – As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a telephone service that is available for all Oregonians and provides telecommunications access that is functionally equivalent for persons with and without hearing or speech disabilities to communicate via the telephone. It operates twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
There are several forms of the OTRS available depending on the needs of the user including Captioned Telephone Service, Voice Carry Over, Hearing Carry Over, Speech to Speech Relay Service, Shared Non-English Language Relay Services and Text-to-Voice TTY-based Relay Service.
For additional information about the telephone assistance programs, contact the Public Utility Commission of Oregon Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (contact info. below).
Article Provided by:
Public Utility Commission of Oregon
550 Capitol Street NE, Suite 215, P.O. Box 2148, Salem, OR 97308-2148
(800) 848-4442, (800) 648-3458 (TTY), (503) 378-6211 (Videophone)
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