Free Phones from Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT)

Maryland Department of Information Technology/Maryland Relay 

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll read this and recognize someone you know.  You may have just hung up the phone after talking to your mom or dad.  Did you repeat yourself?  Did she or he say, ‘What?’ every time you finished a sentence?  Do you wonder how much of your conversation was actually understood?  Think long enough and you’ll recognize someone who has a hearing loss.  

For many people with hearing loss, using the telephone is a struggle each and every time it rings.  For them, mistaking words or misunderstanding conversations can make it seem like a hassle to use the phone at all.  Fortunately, solutions are available through new technology to make life easier for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who struggle to use a standard phone due to a disability. 

Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT), together with Maryland Relay, has been providing free assistive phones in Maryland for more than 10 years.  Amplified and captioned telephones, ring signalers, large-button, hands-free and text telephones are just some examples of what is available at no cost to qualified Maryland residents.  The MAT program serves those who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or who have a cognitive, mobility, or speech disability.  It is the goal of the MAT program to enable people who struggle to use a standard phone due to a disability of any kind to independently use a phone so they can stay connected to their world, their family and friends. 

The MAT program provides free telephone assessments.  Because everyone’s ability is different, a variety of specialized telephones are available to satisfy an individual’s communication needs.  Six centers in Maryland have phones for trial purposes where MAT customers (or anyone interested in buying their own equipment) may visit and learn what works best for them.  As an added plus, when a customer receives a phone from the MAT program, they may also receive free training and installation. 

To be considered for the MAT program, applicants must:

   Be a Maryland resident;

   Be at least 5 years old;

   Be a recipient of SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), TDAP (Temporary Disability Assistance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), VA (Veterans), SSA (Social Security) benefits or pharmacy, medical, housing assistance, or be able to prove a financial hardship;

   Be certified as having one of the following disabilities: mobility, blind, low vision, cognitive, deaf-blind, speech, deaf or hard of hearing and have difficulty using a standard telephone;

   Have telephone service in the home or apply for phone service.

This could be the answer for making life just a bit easier for you or for someone you know.  For an application and more information about the MAT program, please contact: 

Maryland Accessible Telecommunications/ Maryland Relay

301 W. Preston Street

Suite 1008A

Baltimore, MD 21201

Phone: 800-552-7724 (V/TTY/VP)

Email:  [email protected]

Website:  (Download a MAT application under the ‘Free Equipment’ link.)

Please support OutLook by the Bay with a subscription.

OutLook by the Bay magazine and this website are made possible through the support of our advertisers and subscribers. We guarantee you’ll learn something new each issue. Please subscribe today.