What is Relay Service?

The telecommunications relay service is a valuable communications tool which allows hearing individuals and businesses to use their telephones to call and communicate with individuals who are deaf, deaf/blind, hard of hearing, or have difficulty speaking through their telephones. Relay service also provides full telephone accessibility to individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, or have difficulty speaking so that they also have the opportunity to make personal and business calls like any other telephone user. Specially trained operators confidentially complete relay calls and stay on the line to relay conversations electronically over a text telephone (TTY) or verbally between the callers.

The Iowa Utilities Board has a contract with Hamilton Relay to provide telephone relay service in Iowa. This service, known as Relay Iowa, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restriction on the number of calls placed or on their length. Both TTY and voice users may initiate calls through Relay Iowa. If you place a call and hear a series of high pitched sounds, it may be a TTY. You can call Relay Iowa and give the operator the phone number to complete your call. There is no additional charge to users for using relay service, although long distance charges apply for long distance calls.


By law, each call that is made using Relay Iowa is handled with strict confidentiality. Calls will be kept private and no records of any conversation will be kept. Operators will not share information regarding the contents of any relay call.

Iowa Equipment Distribution Program

The equipment distribution program is a program which assists qualified individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, or have difficulty speaking in purchasing specialized telecommunications equipment. Telecommunications Access Iowa (TAI) administers this program on behalf of the Iowa Utilities Board. Call TAI toll free at 1-800-606-5099 (Voice/TTY), or 1-866-603-2286 (Videophone), or at 1-515-282-5099 (Voice) for more information. To fill out an application online, you may visit: www.relayiowa.com/tai/.

Standard Telephone (Voice) Users:

If you would like to place a call using Relay Iowa, dial 711 or 1-800-735-2943. A specially trained operator, called a Communications Assistant (CA), will answer the call and announce their ID number. The CA will then ask you for the area code and number of the person you would like to call. If you dial 711 and hear TTY tones, stay on the line and a CA will answer momentarily. Once you have given the CA the number to call and any further instructions, your call will begin. The CA will voice exactly what the TTY user is typing and will type exactly what you say back to the TTY user. Be sure to talk directly to the person you are calling and avoid saying “tell him” or “tell her.” Each party will need to say “Go Ahead” at the end of each response to indicate that their message is complete and that it is time for the other party to respond. When you receive a call from Relay Iowa, you will be asked by the CA if you are familiar with the service. If not, a brief explanation of the relay service will be given. The call will then proceed as a direct conversation between you and the other party. Speak directly to the party you are calling as if the CA were not there.

TTY Users:

Dial 711 or 1-800-735-2942 to connect with Relay Iowa. A CA will answer and give their personal ID number, indicate “F” or “M” (for CA gender) and will type “NBR PLS GA.” Type in the area code and telephone number you wish to call and then type “GA” (“Go Ahead”). The operator will dial the number and begin relaying the conversation. Remember to type “GA” at the end of each message to indicate that it is time for the other party to respond. When you have completed your side of the conversation, type “GA to SK” (“SK” means “stop keying; the conversation is over”) and the CA will end your call.

Voice Carry Over (VCO) Users:

VCO is an effective service for individuals who have a hearing loss and who use their own voice to speak directly to the person they are calling and, through specialized equipment, can read what is being spoken by the other party. To connect with a CA, dial 1-800-735-4313. If you call 711 or the regular Relay Iowa 800 numbers, inform the CA you want to use VCO by typing “VCO PLS GA.”

Hearing Carry Over (HCO) Users:

HCO is a service for people who have difficulty speaking and who are able to hear on the phone. HCO users listen directly to the other party and, through specialized equipment, type their responses to a Communication Assistant who voices those responses to the other party. To connect with a CA, dial 1-800-735-2942.

Speech-to-Speech (STS) Users: 

STS is a service for people who have a difficult time speaking or being understood on the phone. Specially trained CAs who are familiar with a wide variety of speech patterns revoice the STS user’s side of the conversation as needed. To reach a STS CA directly, dial 1-877-735-1007.

Captioned Telephone:

Captioned Telephone is ideal for people with hearing loss who are able to speak for themselves. A captioned telephone works like any other telephone with one important addition: it displays every word the other party says throughout the conversation. Captioned Telephone users can listen to the caller and read the captions on the display window of the captioned telephone. To call a Captioned Telephone user, dial: 1-877-243-2823.

Emergency/Directory Assistance:

In case of emergency, TTY users should call 911 directly. All 911 centers in Iowa are required to have a TTY and are prepared to handle emergency calls placed in this manner. Relay Iowa will place calls between a TTY user and a directory assistance operator. Once the CA has connected with directory assistance and the phone number has been obtained, the TTY user may choose to place the call through Relay Iowa or dial it directly (TTY to TTY).

Other Services Available Through Relay Iowa:

Relay Iowa Customer Service is available to you. Representatives will answer your questions regarding relay, other available services through Relay Iowa, such as “Relay Friendly Business,” and will accept customer suggestions, comments or complaints.

Customer Service will also provide brochures and other literature regarding Relay Iowa upon request. For more information about Relay Iowa contact:

Relay Iowa Customer Service:

1-888-516-4692 TTY/Voice

Email: iarelay@hamiltonrelay.com

Website: www.relayiowa.com

129 Jackson St  |  PO Box 513  |  Brooklyn, IA 52211-0513

P: 641.522.9211  |  F:  641.522.5001

Trouble After Hours:  877.610.0330

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