State Phone Program Fulfills ADA’s Promise By Keeping
Half a Million Californians Connected, Independent, Safer

Millions  More To Benefit As Californian's Population Ages

Oakland, CA, 7/23/2010 On the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which seeks to provide equal opportunity to people with disabilities, the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP) has made the promise into a reality for a half million Californians.  


DDTP enables Californians who have difficulty seeing, hearing, speaking, remembering, and/or moving to communicate by telephone when these disabilities would make using a standard phone difficult or impossible. The California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) phones and California Relay Service (CRS), which DDTP provides at no cost to eligible Californians, gives people with disabilities equal access to mainstream society, preserves their independence, and connects them to medical and emergency service providers more easily. 


In the coming years, the highly successful program, run by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), is poised to grow in order to meet the needs of California’s growing Baby Boomer population. Older people are often faced with age-related vision, mobility, and hearing loss disabilities. From 2010 to 2020, the population of Californians age 60 and over will grow from approximately 6.5 million to 9 million, according to the California Department of Aging. 


“Diminished hearing, vision, or mobility is a dramatic, life-changing event for most people,” says Shelley Bergum, CEO, California Communications Access Foundation, which manages the Program for the CPUC. “When operating a telephone becomes difficult or impossible, people become cut-off from family, friends, caregivers, and medical help. Our program gives these people the opportunity to work, live independently, and remain safe.”  


CTAP and CRS are made possible by a 0.2 percent surcharge on land-line and cell phone bills. In the last nine months ending March 2010 DDTP provided specialized telephones and devices to 10,166 eligible Californians. More than 90 telephone models and devices are available with features such as large buttons, amplified sound, flashing lights, text displays, and more. 


“Along with enhancing people’s lives, DDTP can indirectly help decrease healthcare costs,” says Jonathan Lakritz, Program Manager at the CPUC, which oversees DDTP/CTAP/CRS. “By providing people with telephone access to family, caregivers, and others, DDTP is playing a role alongside home-based care and community services to keep people independent and in their homes. Remaining at home, which most people prefer, is nearly one-third the cost of living in a nursing or care facility.” 


According to Across the States 2009: Profile of Long-Term Care and Independent Living, a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute, California’s Medicaid nursing facility expenditures per person served in 2005 were $25,833 while the cost of Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services for older people and adults with physical disabilities was $9,001.  


Qualifying to receive a CTAP phone at no cost is easy and fast. There is no income or age requirement. Interested California residents can obtain an application form by contacting DDTP toll-free, visiting one of nine Service Centers statewide, or from the DDTP Web site. The application form must be signed by a licensed doctor, optometrist, audiologist, or by other professionals who are identified on the form. Once the form is submitted and approved and an approval letter is received, applicants call the 800 number or visit a Service Center to work with trained staff on choosing a phone. Phones can be picked up immediately or will be delivered without charge. 

 Contact Information For California Residents 





California Telephone Access Program Contact Center

English:           1-800-806-1191
Spanish:          1-800-949-5650
TTY:                1-800-806-4474
Mandarin:       1-866-324-8747
Cantonese:     1-866-324-8754
Hmong:           1-866-880-3394  

California Relay Service: Dial 711 (TTY/VCO/HCO/Speech to Speech)


CRS Providers:

Hamilton Relay:     English 1-877-632-9095 and Spanish 1-877-419-8440

AT&T Relay:         English 1-866-934-4288 and Spanish 1-866-985-4288

California CapTel: English 1-888-402-4018 and Spanish 1-877-330-0156



Video clips featuring DDTP consumer advisory board members for video/audio reporting and print quotes are available for download and review. Please request a high-resolution DVD with all video files. You may also request footage of specialized phones.



Video Interviews: Click Here 


Program Overview: Click Here


2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

ADA information:



Mary V. Atkins

DDTP Marketing Department Manager

Telephone: 1-510-302-1157



-- End --