FAQ Categories

Eligibility and Applying

  1. Who can get a free specialized telephone?  
  2. How do I get certified for my free specialized phone?  
  3. Why can’t my Nurse practitioner certify my difficulty if the P.A. can?  
  4. How do I get an application form?  
  5. What happens once my application is approved?  
  6. What can I do if I am not able to go to a Service Center?  
  7. Can I get more than one specialized phone? For example, can I get one for my kitchen and one for my bedroom?  
  8. Do California State Agencies & For-Profit businesses qualify for CTAP equipment? (See also question 9, below about equipment available for small businesses.)  
  9. Can a small business apply for CTAP equipment?  
  10. What is the status of my Application/Certification Form?  
  11. In what languages can you mail me Program material?

General Program

  1. What is the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP)?
  2. What is CTAP's goal or primary purpose?
  3. How is the Program funded?  
  4. Where are Service Centers Located?
  5. What happens at Service Centers?
  6. Besides Service Centers, where else can I get Program equipment?
  7. Why can’t I call the local Service Centers directly?
  8. What is the Program’s contact information with your equipment or Program questions?
  9. What is the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP)?
  10. Why did the CPUC establish the Program?
  11. Why have I never heard of this program before?
  12. Is CTAP part of AT&T?

Equipment and Services

  1. What type of phone equipment is available to CTAP customers?
  2. What are the features that will help me?
  3. How do I order? How do I know what phone I should get?
  4. Will I own the equipment once I receive it?
  5. Can I have an in-home temporary trial period?
  6. What is the Exchange policy?
  7. Can I get an answering machine?
  8. Does the Program have a Caller ID talk back feature that announces both the Caller’s name and number? Why not?
  9. What kind of network services does the Program provide to assist consumers with using the telephone?
  10. Do all Program customers receive network services at no cost?
  11. Is Video Relay Service (VRS) available?
  12. How do I return the phone if it is no longer needed?
  13. I have an old phone from CTAP. Can I exchange it for a new one?

Equipment Troubleshooting

  1. How far can you be away from the base unit for cordless phones and Ampli600 wristbands?  
  2. Are my other home phones compatible with Program phones?  
  3. Does the CapTel phone distributed by CTAP work with my cable service provider?  
  4. What is the difference between Tone and Pulse?  
  5. How do I adjust the Volume?  
  6. What do I do if my phone has no dial tone?  
  7. What do I do if the red light is flashing and won’t turn off?  
  8. What do I do if I can hear the person calling me but they cannot hear me?  
  9. What do I do if I hear static, buzzing, or humming on the line?  
  10. Why is my phone making a clicking noise?
  11. What do I do if my phone is lost, stolen, or destroyed in a disaster?

California Relay Service FAQ

Please click here for California Relay Service FAQ 

Eligibility and Applying

  1. Who can get a free specialized telephone?
     

    To be eligible to receive free specialized telephone equipment through the Program, a person must:

    • Live in California
    • Have telephone service
      Please note: The majority of Program equipment only functions with a land line.
    • Be certified as having one or more of the following disabilities:  

    Hearing

    Vision

    Mobility

    Speech

    Cognitive

    There is no age or income requirement.

     
     
  2. How do I get certified for my free specialized phone?
     

    The certification section of your application form must be signed by an authorized Certifying Agent verifying your eligibility for a specialized phone. Authorized Certifying Agents certify only those individuals whose disability/disabilities make it difficult to use a standard telephone. 

    Certifying Agents Authorized by legislation:
     

    • Licensed Medical Doctor (MD) - can sign for people with any type of impairment.
    • Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist
    • Licensed Physician Assistant - may sign for people with any disability.
    • Licensed Audiologist - may only sign for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
    • Licensed Hearing Aid Dispenser - can sign for people they have fitted with an amplified device and whose hearing records are on file.
    • Licensed Optometrist - can sign only for people who are partially-sighted or blind.
    • Department of Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC or RCD) - can sign for their clients and can certify all disabilities.
    • Superintendent/Audiologist from the California School for the Deaf Fremont/Riverside - may only sign for present students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
       
    If you don't already receive care from one of the above types of medical providers, Click Here to Find a Certifying Agent to sign your application. 

  3. Why can’t my Nurse practitioner certify my difficulty if the P.A. can?

    The California State Legislature mandates and licenses all doctors and certifying agents. As a state-mandated program, we can only accept certifying agents determined by the California State Legislature.

     
     
     
  4. How do I get an application form?

    You can obtain an application form in any of the following ways:
     

  5. What happens once my application is approved?
     
    Once your application is approved, you will be sent a CTAP Approval letter requesting that you call the CTAP Contact Center at 1-800-806-1191. Trained staff will then work with you to determine your individual needs and match you with the appropriate equipment and services. If needed, you can also be trained in the use of the equipment and services. Sometimes a combination of equipment and services is paired to enable you to use the telephone effectively. If it’s convenient, you can also visit one of the local (click here for locations) Service Centers.
      
     
  6. What can I do if I am not able to go to a Service Center?
     
    Please call, email, or Web chat with the Contact Center. Working with you, the trained Customer Service Representatives at the Contact Center will help determine the best phone for you and the best method to deliver your equipment.
      
     
  7. Can I get more than one specialized phone? For example, can I get one for my kitchen and one for my bedroom?
     
     The Program provides one phone per person. If other members of a household are eligible, they too may apply to receive equipment.
       
  8. Do California State Agencies & For-Profit Businesses qualify for CTAP equipment?(See also question 9, below about equipment available for small businesses.)
     

    California non-profits, state agencies, and some educational institutions may be eligible to receive TTY equipment only to make their offices accessible as a whole. Federal, City and County funded agencies and for-profit businesses do not qualify for any equipment. However, we can provide the names of companies that sell equipment similar to what we offer. Under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers are responsible for providing this equipment to their employees.


      
     
  9. Can a small business apply for CTAP equipment?
     
    A small business may not apply for CTAP equipment as a whole to make an office accessible; however an individual employee of a small business (defined as 14 fulltime employees or fewer) may apply for additional equipment for the workplace provided they have been previously certified by CTAP for their residential use.  Larger businesses (more than 14 fulltime employees) may be required to purchase equipment under state ADA guidelines. CTAP does not sell equipment but a Vendor List may be provided upon request.
      
     
  10. What is the status of my Application/Certification Form?
    You can contact CTAP via phone at 1-800-806-1191 or click here to Web chat, or email during business hours: Monday – Friday 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and on Saturday, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM for the status of your Application/Certification Form. The Contact Center is closed Holidays and Sundays. Emails may be sent anytime; however, they will be responded to during business hours.
      
     
  11. In what languages can you mail me Program material?
     
    Currently the Program provides materials in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Braille, and Vietnamese. However, based on demand, from time to time, the Program makes materials available in other languages.
      

General Program

  1. What is the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP)?
     
    The California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) is part of the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), a California state-mandated program administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
     
  2. What is CTAP's goal or primary purpose?

    The primary goal of the Program is to provide specialized telephone equipment and services to Californians who may have difficulty using a standard telephone. CTAP phones make it easier for these individuals to connect with friends and family, conduct business, and access medical and safety services.
     
  3. How is the Program funded?
     
    The Program is funded by a small surcharge that appears on all California telephone bills. The money collected from this surcharge pays for both the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) and the California Relay Service (CRS). This surcharge appears on phone bills as "CA Relay Service and Communications Devices Fund."
     
  4.  Where are Service Centers Located?
     
     Click here to find your nearest Service Center.

     
  5. What happens at Service Centers?
     
    Service Centers throughout California have equipment for consumers to test and usually take home the same day, if you qualify. Trained Customer Advisors are available to approve your certified application and work with you to select the phone that works best for you. Click here to find your nearest Service Center
     
  6. Besides Service Centers, where else can I get Program equipment?
     
    • If you are already CTAP-certified, you may call the Contact Center at 1-800-806-1191 to talk with a trained Customer Service Representative who will work with you to determine the best phone for you and then they will mail your phone to you.
    • If you are already CTAP-certified, you may call 1-800-806-1191 to find the nearest pre-certified Distribution Event. A pre-certified Distribution Event, with no certifying agent, is an opportunity for already-certified consumers to receive Program equipment. At these Distribution Events trained CTAP staff is available for individuals who have had their Certification Forms approved by a certifying agent, but have not received their equipment. CTAP professionals will assess the certified consumer for the most appropriate equipment according to their certification needs. In most cases, consumers receive their equipment the same day. 
    • If you are not already CTAP-certified, you may call the Contact Center at 1-800-806-1191 to find the nearest Distribution Event with a certifying agent. A Distribution Event with a certifying agent is a “one-stop opportunity” to receive Program equipment. CTAP staff work with a certifying agent, most often an audiologist, to certify consumers for the Program at no cost. The certifying agent will conduct a hearing test for example, and if the consumer is hard of hearing, will certify them for the Program. At the same time, trained CTAP professionals will assess the certified consumer for the most appropriate equipment according to their certification needs. In most cases, consumers receive their equipment the same day.                                                                                


     
  7. Why can’t I call the local Service Centers directly?
     
    The Service Centers are staffed to work with drop in consumers; no appointments are needed. However, calls, Web chats, and emails are handled by the Program’s Contact Center. The phone number is 1-800-806-1191, or you may click here to start a Web chat or email. 
     
  8. What is the Program’s contact information with your equipment or Program questions?
    CTAP Contact Center

    P.O. Box 30310
    Stockton, CA 95213

    English: 1-800-806-1191

    Spanish: 1-800-949-5650

    Mandarin: 1-866-324-8747

    Cantonese: 1-866-324-8754

    Hmong: 1-866-880-3394

    Vietnamese: 1-855-247-0106

    TTY: 1-800-806-4474

    Fax: 1-800-889-3974

    customercare@ddtpca.org

     
     
  9. What is the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP)?
     
    The Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP) is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), providing Californians who are deaf and disabled with specialized telephone equipment and relay services through the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) and California Relay Service (CRS), respectively. 
     
  10. Why did the CPUC establish the Program?
     
     

    State legislation was passed directing the California Public Utilities Commission to implement a program to distribute assistive telecommunications equipment and relay services for Californians certified as having limitations of seeing, hearing, speaking, remembering, or moving.

      

    In compliance with Public Utilities Code § 2881, the Commission established the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), which includes both CTAP and CRS.
      

    In 1979, legislation was enacted requiring the CPUC to design and implement a program to provide telecommunication devices for the deaf or severely hearing-impaired. This program, now called the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), fulfills four mandated functions:
      

    • In 1979, Senate Bill 597 (SB 597) provided for the distribution of telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs or TTYs) to certified deaf or hearing-impaired users.  
    • In 1983, Senate Bill 244 (SB 244) mandated the development of a dual party relay system to connect individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired with individuals with no hearing disability. The resulting California Relay Service (CRS) provides Teletypewriter (TTY) users 24-hour contact with any other telephone subscriber.  
    • In 1985, Senate Bill 60 (SB 60) mandated the distribution of specialized telecommunications equipment to other certified individuals with hearing, vision, speech, and mobility disabilities.  
    • In 2003, Senate Bill 168 (SB 168) changed Public Utilities (P.U.) Code Section 279a enabling the CPUC to transfer advisory oversight of the TTY Placement Program (TPP) to the DDTP and its advisory committees.
         
    The CPUC established a formal structure for the DDTP in 1989 to oversee the operations of the mandated programs, encompassing both the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP), which distributes equipment, and the California Relay Service (CRS), which provides operators to relay telephone conversations to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled.

     
  11. Why have I never heard of this program before?
     

    As a State-mandated Program, it has a limited budget. However, the Program does advertise and reach out to California residents through print, television, radio, and Internet ads as well as community-based organizations and service providers. We welcome your suggestions--please submit them here.
     

    You may have recently experienced advertisements about California Phones or Ability Phones, which are simply different ways of reaching out to the wide variety of people who can benefit from the Program equipment. 

     
  12. Is CTAP part of AT&T?
     

    No, the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) is part of the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), which is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Equipment and Services

Equipment Troubleshooting

  1. How far can you be away from the base unit for cordless phones and Ampli600 wristbands?
     
    The accessible range depends on your interior walls and other solid surfaces. For the Ampli600, the general distance is 50 feet. 
       
  2. Are my other home phones compatible with Program phones?
     
    Yes, Program phones should not interfere with your other household phones. The majority of Program phones do require electricity and a land line connection. 
       
  3. Does the CapTel phone distributed by CTAP work with my cable service provider?
     

    The Captioned Telephone distributed by CTAP is landline based and is not compatible with the following types of telephone service: Cable/VoIP/Fios lines. An example would be telephone service provided by a cable company. CapTel will only work properly with an analog line (or DSL line with a filter). However, captioned telephones compatible with Cable/VoIP/Fios lines as well as Web-based captioning services are available from various other providers. For more information, visit the Web site of one of the following providers:
     

       
  4. What is the difference between Tone and Pulse?
     
     

    All phones have a setting for tone and pulse dialing. Tone dialing works with the automated phone menus used by many businesses such as banks, government organizations, and health care providers.
     

    If you are hearing a clicking sound when you try to dial out, your phone may be set on pulse. On your phone, locate a switch labeled Tone/Pulse or T/P. Make sure the switch is on the tone setting.

       
  5. How do I adjust the Volume?
     
    Most Program phones have a slider switch on the front (or on the handset of a cordless phone) that controls volume. Moving the slider or rotary switch increases the volume of the incoming call. Often it helps to adjust the volume on each call. If here is a “boost” or “amplify” button on your phone, you may want to turn that on to increase the volume further.
       
  6. What do I do if my phone has no dial tone?
     
    Check that the phone’s line cord is securely connected to the phone jack in the wall and to the phone itself.  Most amplified phones also have a power adapter that connects to an electrical outlet. Check the phone’s connection to the adapter and the adapter’s connection to the electrical outlet. Try connecting another telephone to the phone jack to ensure the phone line is working.
       
  7. What do I do if the red light is flashing and won’t turn off?
     
    If you have voice mail through your telephone provider, check whether you have a message.
       
  8. What do I do if I can hear the person calling me but they cannot hear me?
     

    If your voice sounds faint to callers:

    Some Program phones have outgoing speech amplification, which boosts the volume of your voice by up to 15 dB. Be sure the Outgoing Speech Amplification (OSA) button or switch on the phone is engaged. 

     

    If callers cannot hear you at all:

    On the Ampli500 phone, a button on the handset enables amplification. Press and release the button to enable amplification. Do not hold down the button while speaking because it acts as a mute button.

       
  9. What do I do if I hear static, buzzing, or humming on the line?
     
    First, it is important to determine whether there is a problem with the phone line. Disconnect your Program phone from the phone line. Connect a different phone to the same line. If static, buzzing, or humming can be heard, ask your telephone provider to do a line check. If the line is clear, check that all cords, including handset cord, power adapter, and line cord are connected. If the static continues, call 1-800-806-1191 for further troubleshooting. Or visit your nearest Service Center and bring your phone and its parts.
     
     
  10. Why is my phone making a clicking noise?
     
     All phones have a setting for tone and pulse dialing. Locate a switch labeled Tone/Pulse or T/P. Push the switch to the Tone setting (T).
       
  11. What do I do if my phone is lost, stolen, or destroyed in a disaster?
     
     

    Because the phones are loaned to consumers, when a phone is lost, please send a letter describing the circumstances, signed by the consumer. If a phone is stolen, please report the theft to the local police department and the police report number noted in a letter that is signed by the consumer. Letters may be taken to a Service Center, faxed to 1-800-889-3974 or mailed to: California Telephone Access Program, P.O. Box 30310, Stockton, CA 95213.

    Please include the following in your letter:
       
    • Your name, phone number, and shipping address 
    • Telephone Company 
    • Equipment that was lost 
    • Description of what happened to the equipment
    • Date and Signature
     

California Relay Service FAQ

Please click here for California Relay Service FAQ