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Federal Relay Service


The Federal Relay Service (FRS) is a communication service provided by the U.S. government for individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have speech disabilities. It enables these individuals to communicate with federal agencies and conduct official business through various relay technologies, such as Text Telephone (TTY), TeleBraille, and Relay Conference Captioning. This service ensures equal access to communication and promotes inclusion for all users regardless of their abilities.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Federal Relay Service (FRS) is a telecommunication system designed to facilitate communication between individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and those who use standard telephone equipment.
  2. Available to all federal agencies as well as authorized state and local entities, the FRS provides various communication services, including TTY, Voice Carry Over, Hearing Carry Over, Speech-to-Speech, Video Relay Service, and Captioned Telephone.
  3. By using the Federal Relay Service, veterans with hearing or speech disabilities can access VA benefits and services more easily and conveniently, ensuring equal communication access for all.


The VA benefits term “Federal Relay Service” is significant because it ensures equal communication access for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities, ensuring they can fully utilize vital services and benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Federal Relay Service facilitates various communication options, such as TTY, Text-to-Voice, and Video Relay Service, enabling veterans with disabilities to communicate effectively with VA representatives and receive essential support.

By providing these accommodations, the VA demonstrates its commitment to inclusivity and fostering equal opportunities for all veterans regardless of their ability, leaving no one behind when it comes to accessing the crucial resources, support, and benefits they deserve as a result of their service to the country.


The Federal Relay Service (FRS) serves a vital purpose in ensuring smooth and efficient communication between individuals with hearing or speech impairments and federal agencies by providing accessible telecommunication services. This service fosters inclusivity and bridging the communication gap that can often arise for people facing such disabilities.

By facilitating telecommunications between deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled individuals and hearing individuals who use telephones, Federal Relay Services enable these citizens to access essential information, services, and benefits offered by various federal departments and organizations with ease and convenience. Through the use of modern communication technologies such as teletypewriters (TTY), captioned telephones, and video relay services, Federal Relay Service aims to create an equitable platform for individuals with hearing and speech impairments to communicate with federal agencies.

FRS not only empowers these individuals to exercise their rights to easily access government-provided resources, but it also ensures that federal agencies adhere to a high level of accessibility and accountability. Furthermore, the adoption of FRS within federal organizations testifies to the commitment of the U.S.

government in promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities and enabling them to fully participate in society as valued members.

Examples of Federal Relay Service

The Federal Relay Service (FRS) is a program that enables individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with federal agencies over the telephone using various assistive technologies. Here are three real-world examples of how the FRS can be used by veterans to access VA Benefits:

Making a Telephone Appointment with a VA Medical Center: A veteran with a hearing impairment can use the FRS, such as Video Relay Service (VRS) or Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), to call their local VA Medical Center and make or reschedule appointments. The communication assistant (CA) will convey the message between the veteran and the VA Medical Center staff, ensuring effective communication.

Receiving Updates on VA Benefits Claims: A veteran with a speech disability might need to speak with a VA representative about the status of their disability claim, pension, or other benefits. By using the FRS, such as Speech-to-Speech (STS), the individual can have a CA relay their spoken words, enabling them to converse with the VA representative to receive updates on their claim or benefits application process.

Accessing VA Mental Health Services: Veterans dealing with mental health issues may need to reach out to a VA Crisis Line counselor or connect with their local VA mental health clinic. Those with hearing or speech disabilities can use FRS, such as Captioned Telephone Service (CTS), to communicate with these healthcare professionals. By doing so, the veteran can effectively communicate with the counselor or physician, ensuring they receive the appropriate support and care they need.Overall, the Federal Relay Service supports veterans with hearing or speech disabilities in accessing essential resources and services, ultimately promoting independence and better quality of life.

FAQ Section: Federal Relay Service

What is the Federal Relay Service?

The Federal Relay Service (FRS) is a telecommunication service that enables individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate with federal agencies and departments. This service provides various relay services including TTY (Text Telephone), VRS (Video Relay Service), and Captioned Telephone Service, which can be used to facilitate communication between users and federal agencies.

Who can use the Federal Relay Service?

The Federal Relay Service is available for federal employees, veterans, and members of the public who have hearing or speech disabilities. The service is designed to provide equal communication access to those who have difficulty using standard telephone services due to their hearing or speech limitations, ensuring that they can effectively communicate with federal agencies.

How do I access the Federal Relay Service?

To access the Federal Relay Service, you can dial 1-800-877-8339 (TTY/Voice). This toll-free number connects you to an operator who will assist in connecting you with the appropriate relay service, based on your communication needs. Additionally, you can visit their website for more information on available services and how to use them.

Is there any cost to use the Federal Relay Service?

No, the Federal Relay Service is a free service provided by the federal government to ensure equal access to communication for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities. There may be costs associated with specific devices needed to utilize the service, such as a TTY or captioned telephone, but the relay services themselves are free of charge.

Are there any limitations or restrictions to the Federal Relay Service?

While the Federal Relay Service is a valuable resource, it is specifically designed to facilitate communication between individuals with hearing or speech disabilities and federal agencies. It cannot be used for personal calls or communication with non-federal organizations. Please be aware that it is a crime to misuse federal relay services for fraudulent or harmful purposes, and violators may be subject to fines and criminal charges.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS)
  • Text Telephone (TTY)
  • Video Relay Service (VRS)
  • Internet Protocol Relay (IP Relay)
  • Speech-to-Speech (STS) Relay

Sources for More Information