August 31, 2023

Your Guide to Hearing Loss Resources in Sarasota, FL

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Your Guide to Hearing Loss Resources in Sarasota, FL

Hearing loss can be a profoundly isolating experience. But if you're based in Sarasota, FL, know that you're far from alone — and there's help at hand.

1. Free Amplified Telephones for those with Hearing Loss

Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTR) I is a Florida-based nonprofit that provides specialized telecom equipment to residents with hearing or speech disabilities. FTRI services come from a small monthly fee added to all landline bills across the state.

Here's the best part: if you're a permanent resident of Florida, you can borrow specialized telephone equipment and ring signaling devices at no cost for as long as you need them. This initiative is all part of FTRI's commitment to remove barriers and make communication easier for everyone.

To that end, FTRI provides free access to an expansive range of amplified telephones, designed to cater to individuals with varying levels of hearing loss—mild, moderate, or severe. These specialized phones are accessible at any of the 24 Regional Distribution Centers scattered across Florida.

Who Can Qualify for a Free Amplified Phone?

To be eligible for a complimentary specialized phone, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a permanent resident of Florida
  • Be at least 3 years old
  • Have official certification of hearing loss or speech impairment

So, if you fit the bill, take advantage of FTRI's offer and make communication more accessible for yourself.

Where Can I Get a Free Amplified Phone?

Free phone events are sometimes organized at the Betty J Johnson North Sarasota Public Library.

Location: 2801 Newton Boulevard, Sarasota, FL

Contact: Christina Baney-Wilbert, Sertoma Speech & Hearing Foundation of Florida, Inc.


Phone: 727-312-3881

2. Florida Relay Service

A critical communication tool, the Florida Relay Service aids those with hearing loss in making phone calls. Florida Relay is your go-to service if you have hearing loss, speech impairments, or are Deaf/Blind. It connects those with special phone equipment to regular phone users.

Types of Relay Service Available

  • Text Telephone (TTY): If you can't hear or speak, type messages to an operator who'll speak to the other person for you.
  • Voice Carry-Over (VCO): If you can speak but not hear, you can talk directly. The operator will type the other person's responses for you to read.
  • Two-Line VCO: Use one line for speaking and another to read typed responses.
  • VCO-Direct: A fast and efficient feature for VCO calls with specially trained agents.
  • Hearing Carry-Over (HCO): If you can hear but not speak, listen directly and type your messages, which the operator will read aloud.
  • Speech-to-Speech (STS): If your speech is hard to understand, an operator trained in recognizing speech patterns will assist you.
  • ASCII Split-Screen: Use your computer to display both your text and the operator’s text in separate windows.
  • Voice: Regular phone users can call those with special needs.
  • Pay-Per-Call: Connects you to toll 800 or 900 numbers. Direct billing applies.

How to Access the Relay Service

Dial 7-1-1 or use these toll-free numbers based on your needs:

  • TTY: 1-800-955-8771
  • Voice: 1-800-955-8770
  • Spanish: 1-877-955-8773

3. Regular Events with The Hearing Loss Association of Sarasota

Founded in 1979 by Howard E. “Rocky” Stone, the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the nation’s leading organization representing consumers with hearing loss. The programs and events they offer are designed to focus on you—the person. HLAA strives to give people the tools they need to live more successfully with hearing loss and to show them they do not have to face hearing loss alone.

The local branch in Sarasota, FL offers resources, including meetings and social events like regular happy hours.

Meeting Locations: 

Betty J Johnson North Sarasota Public Library 

MADE Restaurant: 1990 Main St SUITE 112, Sarasota, FL

Further Info: Home Page, Main HLAA Website

4. Looped Venues in and Around Sarasota

In a bustling city like Sarasota, staying connected is crucial, especially for those with hearing loss. That's where "looped venues" come into play, offering a transformative auditory experience.

Looped venues are public spaces equipped with hearing loop technology. This system involves a loop of wire that circles a room and is connected to the sound system. It transmits sound electromagnetically to telecoil-equipped hearing aids or cochlear implants, offering clearer sound without background noise.

Some Looped Venues in Sarasota

Here's a list of Sarasota venues equipped with hearing loop systems:

  • Asolo Repertory Theatre
  • Burns Court Cinemas
  • Florida Studio Theater
  • Glenridge Performing Arts Center
  • Manatee Players
  • Sarasota Opera
  • Sarasota Orchestra at Holley Hall
  • The Players Theatre
  • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Many libraries within Sarasota are now looped. "Serving all of our library visitors is crucial," stated Sarabeth Kalajian, head of Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources. "Our assistive technologies allow everyone to fully engage in the library's wide-ranging programs.

If you're in Sarasota and struggling with hearing loss, these resources are your stepping stones to a more connected, fulfilling life.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Victoria L. Moore
Lead Audiologist
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Dr. Victoria Moore (Vicky) serves as President as well as Lead Audiologist at The Hearing Spa. She moved to the USA from England in 1991 and has been serving the communities of Sarasota and Bradenton for over 20 years. Her independent audiology practice focuses on adult hearing loss, tinnitus management, as well as Cochlear Implant services.


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