Captioned Telephone Service

California is currently providing captioned telephone (CapTel) service to eligible persons who are CTAP-certified and have completed a California CapTel agreement. CapTel serves hard of hearing persons and other persons who can benefit from word-for-word captions of everything said by the other party in a telephone conversation. These word-for-word captions are generated by a CapTelCommunications Assistant (CA) using the latest voice-recognition technology.  At the same time, the other caller's voice can be heard via an amplified handset. Users with intelligible speech who are Deaf or hard of hearing speak directly to the other party. The call flows like a regular telephone conversation with the added benefit of having captions. The captions appear on the bright display screen a few seconds after the other party has spoken. 

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How Do I Apply for a Captioned Telephone?


If you are interested in participating, you must mail, fax, or bring your completed CTAP application to a nearby Service Center for an in-person CapTel assessment.

Trained staff will demonstrate the Captioned Telephone and ensure it is the best telephone for you; if you are unable to go to a Service Center (addresses listed here),
please call the CTAP Contact Center, at one of the phone numbers listed here for further assistance.
Captel application



 Both the captioned telephone equipment and services are available at no cost to those who qualify. 


How Do I Make a Captioned Telephone Call?

When captioned telephone users place an outgoing call, they are automatically connected to the Captioning Call Center. When people call a captioned telephone user, they first have to dial the number of the desired captioning service:



Please read carefully.

To make a captioned telephone call:

  • Directly dial the party you are calling using your captioned telephone (with the captions button “on”; the phone automatically connects to the captioning service)

After you are connected, continue the call as you would do on a standard telephone.


To receive a captioned telephone call:

  • People calling a captioned telephone user need to dial the captioning service first, then dial the ten digit phone number of the captioned telephone user being called.*
  • English captioning service: 1-866-399-9050
  • Spanish captioning service: 1-866-399-9090 

If you have a second telephone line, callers do not have to dial the captioning service first, they can directly dial your telephone number. 

After you are connected, continue the call as you would do on a standard telephone.

* When prompted, a non-captioned telephone caller enters the captioned telephone user’s telephone number, and waits briefly for the service to be connected. At that point, the conversation begins.


Please Note: The Spanish captioned telephone service currently does not operate 24 hours a day. Currently, the hours of the Spanish service are: 5AM to 9PM.


Using speech-to-text software, a specially-trained Communications Assistant (CA) repeats everything the caller says. A computer converts this to text which is sent to the CapTel user's screen at the same time the caller's voiced conversation is heard via the handset by the CapTel user. The CapTel user responds using his or her voice, which is heard in real-time by the other caller, just as in a traditional phone call.

Two-line Captioned Telephone Calls: With a two-line captioned telephone, hearing users directly dial the CapTel user’s telephone number. They don’t have to call the captioning service first or remember a separate toll free number to reach CapTel telephone users. With two-lines, captioned telephone users will see captions on any call at any time.

Two-line captioned telephone service can work on all captioned telephones. However, the captioned telephone user needs a second telephone line with its own telephone number (not just an extension line).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Find answers to questions about captioned telephones. 


Updates to California Captioned Telephone Service (CapTel)


Extended CapTel Customer Service Hours and Profiles

As of June 2010, California CapTel Customer Service is available in English and Spanish 24 hours a day. A new California CapTel Profile Form will allow California CapTel users to choose calling preferences, activate call blocking, and register their preferred long distance provider. California CapTel users can dial the following numbers 24 hours a day for assistance:

California CapTel Customer Service in English 1-888-402-4018  

California CapTel Customer Service in Spanish 1-877-330-0156  


Making all callers aware of the presence of a third party


A California Captioned Telephone user is legally responsible to inform all parties on the Captioned Telephone call that there is an operator present on the call. This is to comply with California privacy law, which prohibits unidentified persons, such as a captionist, from listening to a telephone call without the knowledge of all parties on the call. There is a text reminder at the beginning of each call reminding you that “California law requires that you inform the other parties that there is an operator on the call.” The people you call will not hear this message.

You may use your own words to inform the people you call. Some examples of words you might use are:
• An operator/captionist is on this call.
• An operator/captionist is assisting me with this call.
• A communication assistant is listening on this call.
• A communication assistant is captioning this call for me. 

Click here for detailed CapTel Frequently Asked Questions.



Long Distance Charges

There is no cost to place or receive calls through California Relay Service. If you make international calls or operator assisted calls, charges may apply. Please complete a Customer Profile so that we know your preferred carrier for these types of calls. To identify your carrier of choice for billing purposes, please contact California CapTel Customer Service: English 1-888-402-4018, Spanish 1-877-330-0156


New Service Provider 

On June 2, 2010, Hamilton CapTel became California’s new provider of captioned telephone (CapTel) service. This change does not require you to do anything different. Please continue using the service as you do now.


More questions? Check out the FAQs.

Contact Information


With questions, please get in touch with the Contact Center or visit a Service Center.

To purchase a second captioned telephone you can send an email to or call toll free:

Voice: 1-877-546-7414

TTY: 1-800-867-4323

FAX: 1-510-268-4758

For more information about captioned telephone (CapTel) service or making a call please visit the CapTel website or contact:

California CapTel Customer Service in English 1-888-402-4018 (available 24/7/365)  

California CapTel Customer Service in Spanish 1-877-330-0156 (available 24/7/365)  

National CapTel Customer Service 888-269-7477 (available 24/7 excluding holidays)