711 abbreviated dialing went into effect in Pennsylvania on May 1, 2000. The Pennsylvania Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) has various (800-654-5984 / PA TTY; 800-654-5988 / PA VOICE; 888-895-1197 / PA 711; 877-231-8181 / PA VOIP) 10-digit numbers that will continue to be used in conjunction with 711 - these numbers are not being replaced by 711 abbreviated dialing. The use of 711 abbreviated dialing provides easier access to relay services for both text and voice TRS users by eliminating the need for 10-digit dialing. Pennsylvanians who want to communicate with members of the deaf and hard of hearing community need only to remember a simple three-digit number, “711”.
The TRS works by connecting calls between persons with speech disorders or persons who are deaf or hard of hearing using a text telephone (TTY) and a hearing person using a regular telephone. The person using the TTY types a conversation and the message is relayed to the other party by a communications assistant (CA). The CA then relays the hearing person's exact words by typing them back to the TTY user.
In 1997, at CC Docket No. 25-105: FCC 97-51, the Federal Communications Commission ordered Bell Communications Research, as the North American Numbering Plan Administrator, to assign 711 as a national code for TRS use.
Working with the PUC, both AT&T and Verizon, formerly Bell Atlantic, have championed the effort to implement 711 dialing in Pennsylvania. Hamilton Relay Inc is the current certificated traditional/basic TRS provider throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Nationwide 711 Access to the TRS has been mandated as of October 1, 2001, in accordance with FCC order In the Matter of Use of N11 Codes and Other Abbreviated Dialing Arrangements, CC Docket No. 92-105, Second Report and Order, FCC 00-257 (rel. August 9, 2000). This Order requires all telecommunications carriers, including wireline, wireless, and payphone providers to implement 711 access to all relay services on or before October 1, 2001. The Order also encourages PBX operators to work with carriers and TRS providers to facilitate 711 dialing from their user locations.
Effective October 1, 2001, Pennsylvania relay users will be able to dial 711 to access Speech-to-Speech, Spanish Relay, and 900 Pay-per-call services. This is in accordance with FCC Order 00-257, CC Docket 92-105 that states, "711 dialing must access all types of relay services in accordance with the Commission's minimum service quality standards for TRS". Relay users will have the choice of using the abbreviated 3-digit dialing to access the above-mentioned services, or they can still use the appropriated Toll Free numbers for those services.