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Adaptive telephone equipment opens up communication

By Tonya Villwock, Independent Living Services Coordinator—Branch Offices

I have recently had the privilege of working with several individuals who needed adaptive telephone equipment in their homes to communicate with other people. It is one of the best feelings to watch an individual who has been isolated due to their hearing loss communicate once again with their family and friends. The smiles on their faces are why the Telecommunications Equipment Purchase Program (TEPP) is so important. Communication is everyone’s essential right and it pains me to see people choose to not talk to their loved ones and friends anymore rather than continuing to ask them to repeat themselves. TEPP can make the difference in someone’s life, so please join with me in sharing this information with more people.

TEPP is a statewide program that helps people with disabilities buy adaptive telephone equipment that they need to live independently. TEPP is paid for by the Universal Service Fund (USF) established by the Public Service Commission.

TEPP might be right for you if the answer to any of the following questions is yes:

  • Do you want a large-print or talking caller-ID?
  • Do you want your lights to flash when the phone rings?
  • Do you want your phone to ring more than four times?
  • Do you need more memory buttons to pre-record phone numbers?
  • Do you need a louder amplified answering machine?
  • Are you tired of asking people to repeat themselves?

There is NO catch! All you have to do is fill out an application and meet these three requirements:

  1. Be a Wisconsin resident
  2. Be a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, or who has speech, mobility or motion limitations
  3. Have a need for adaptive equipment in the home

There is no age limit and an applicant can reapply every three years. Some of the higher voucher categories will require a copayment and/or recent certificate of hearing loss OR physician/audiologist signature. Independence First staff are trained to help through this process.

Contact Independence First if you would like to see what kinds of adaptive phone equipment are available! We will help you fill out the TEPP application, assist in ordering you the correct equipment, install the equipment in your home and get your independent living needs met!

For more information on TEPP, contact me at 414-731-7834 V/Relay.