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Montana program helps businesses create equal access to communication

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Posted at 9:22 AM, Feb 01, 2022

HELENA — Businesses like Top Gun Auto Body are taking advantage of training offered by the Montana Telecommunications Access Program (MTAP) to better help those with hearing and speech disabilities.

The MTAP program — part of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) — works to educate businesses in what a relay-assisted call is and how to be relay-friendly.

Relay calls work by relaying the information from a business or from a person with a speech or hearing disability to the respective party. People utilizing a relay service are often hung up on by businesses because of the pauses that occur in order to translate information.

“I thought it was such a great program, and I'm very happy that they're putting the work into it so anything I can do to help those folks help promote it, I'm all in. I think it's a really great opportunity for our shop to be able to promote it, help them, and absolutely grow this service,” says Top Gun Auto Body owner Teddy Culbertson.

Businesses can get online relay-friendly training as early as Feb. 1. There will be a free online course from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. offered by MTAP. People can register their business, take the course, and receive a relay-friendly business sticker to place at your storefront as well as a listing on their website.

MTAP Director Mary Taylor says this service helps break down barriers and create equal access to communication for all Montanans.

“It’s something that we're just wanting to bring to light every once in a while, to just remind people that this is an opportunity out there too, that there are relay calls that happen and that they need to be aware of that and how to recognize a relay call,” says Taylor.

People who would like to sign up their business for the MTAP training can access this link: https://dphhs.mt.gov/detd/mtap/index