Wireless Communication Devices for the Deaf

Grant W. Laird, Jr. takes a stroll down memory lane with “History of Wireless Devices in Deaf Community.” Thinking about my experience, I can’t believe how many devices I’ve gone through since 1993 in my first job out of college. The following lists the devices I’ve used:
* Email: 1986 – current. It began with BBSes. I was limited to emailing those who used BBSes and eventually Prodigy and AOL.

* TTY: 1992 (when I got the first one — my TTYs are collecting dust in the closet as I have a Captel phone that I don’t use much sitting in my office. I didn’t have a need for a TTY until my first job when I discovered the relay service. Didn’t get many calls that way. It was difficult to simply explain on a business card how to call me through the relay service. I love today’s relay service as I have my own number and it goes directly through the relay service in AIM (AOL instant messenger).
* Numeric pager: 1993 – 1995. Paul and I created our own special numeric codes. For example, he would enter 111111 to mean he is on the way to pick me up. 180 and 360 meant “I love you” and “I love you back.” Our most famous was “911” when my water broke on February 10, 1994. That night, we had our first child. She’s 13. After she came along, 2222 meant we were picking her up.
* Alphanumeric pager: 1997 – 2000. This didn’t go over as well as I had hoped. My company assigned it to me so colleagues could send me messages. I hardly ever got messages and instead it was a pain since its heaviness pulled down on my clothes.
* Palm Vx with modem: 1999 roughly. I finally had a way to check email away from home (this was before services like mail2web — I didn’t use web-based email apps then).
* Instant messenger: ??? I don’t know when I started using instant messenger — but it is a great tool for staying in touch with my family (except my brother who never has his on) and a couple of close friends (the rest haven’t gotten into instant messenger and some won’t).
* Sidekick II: 2003 – 2006. Paul and my oldest had one and it was great for staying in touch. Unfortunately, toward the end of its life… the network became unreliable.
* Sidekick III: 2007 – current. I wanted to switch to a Palm Treo, but the data plans cost more. So I stuck with it, but the network has been horrible all year. We’ve called wireless provider numerous times and they said the network was fine. We’re in a major metro area.

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