Houston-area organization providing hearing assistance

Texas Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program
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Houston’s Chron recently reported on a local initiative to help provide financial assistance to the hearing impaired to obtain specialized telecommunication devices – primarily those that aid in using the telephone.

The initiative is known as the Texas Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) and is organized as a voucher program funded by some of the additional fees on telecommunication bills. The program operates under the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) at the state level, through the division for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services (DHHS).

The program is intended for people who have a disability that interferes with normal use of a regular phone. It is run by authorized personnel who work with people with this need. This includes licensed audiologists, speech pathologists, social workers, physicians, and hearing aid fitters and dispensers. The program is open to eligible residents of the state of Texas who can choose the best device for them, for instance an amplified telephone or voice-activated answer phone.

“I find it rewarding to be able to help people reestablish otherwise lost contact with friends and family, as disabilities that affect communication can cause people to withdraw from social contact with others, and lead to isolation and depression in many cases,” says Ray Wathen, an authorized STAP specialist interviewed for the article. “It’s nice to be able to help close that gap and bring people together again through a program that actually gives the applicant something back through the taxes and fees they have paid, many times over decades.”

Source: Chron; Texas Health and Human Services