Businesses Can Serve More Customers By Sharing
Information About Specialized Phones


The Latin Business Association has the opportunity to make it easier for many people with hearing or visual limitations to inquire about products and services as well as place orders over the phone by telling their customers about a free state program.


A growing number of people in California have difficulty using the telephone because their hearing, eyesight, speech, memory or mobility is limited.  Useful phones that amplify sound so voices are clear and other phones with large keypads for easy dialing are available along with other specialized phone equipment at absolutely no cost from the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP).


“Spreading the news about the program and welcoming people with these common limitations to your business is good business,” says Fred Navarro, an Outreach Specialist for CTAP in Los Angeles. “This is a great program because there are so many people of all ages, especially California’s growing senior population, who have difficulty talking to businesses, family, friends, and others on the phone.


“Most of the people who apply for a specialized phone have low vision or hearing loss, but there are many people who have mobility and memory limitations, too,” says Navarro. “While some of these difficulties are common as we get older, some result from accidents, illnesses, and from other ways.


“During the last six years, I have met many people in the Los Angeles area and have seen how this program can really changes lives,” says Navarro. “Businesses that share the information about the program with customers are not only helping their businesses grow, but are also doing something that helps the overall Latino community.”


The first question many people ask about the program is how difficult is it to apply for a free phone. According to Navarro, some people think that by contacting the program they will lose other government benefits or it will change their immigration status.


“The good news is that it is very simple to apply for a phone,” says Navarro. “The application does not require a Social Security Number, income verification, or proof of U.S. citizenship.”


To receive a phone or other device at no-cost, the person applying for the phone must have phone service, live in California, and have a medical professional verify that he or she has limited hearing, vision, speech, mobility, and/or memory.


“Getting the correct person to sign your applications is not difficult,” says Navarro. “If you do not have your own doctor, you can go to the program’s website at and click on “Find a medical professional to sign your application”. You can also contact a local health clinic or health center for help. The important thing to remember is that the form cannot be signed by a nurse or a speech therapist.”


The California State program is able to provide phones at no cost to people who can benefit from them because the phones are paid for by a small surcharge on every Californian’s phone bill. It is important to understand that the people who receive these specialized phones will not have to pay for them and nothing will change on their phone bills.

To learn about how to obtain a special phone, Spanish-speaking operators are available at 1-800-949-5650 (English at 1-800-806-1191). You can find the locations of all nine Service Centers throughout the state by visiting the program website at , which can also be viewed in Spanish.