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Bell Relay service

The Bell Relay service (BRS) supports communication by phone between hearing people and people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, or those with speech disabilities. Professionally trained operators act as intermediaries to facilitate the call. Bell Relay operators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Calls placed through the Bell Relay service are also entirely confidential. Bell Relay operators follow a strict code of ethics. No record of conversation content is retained.

Tip: "call me" cards provide simple instructions on how to reach you through the Bell Relay service. Download and print your own cards to hand out to friends, family and those you do business with.

Download Bell Relay cards (PDF)

There is no charge for using the Bell Relay service to place local calls. Long distance calls are billed to the number you are calling from at a reduced rate. The cost of the call will depend on where you are calling from, the type of phone service you have and how you are billing the call.

Registered TTY/teletypewriter users are eligible for an 86% rebate on Canada-to-Canada or Canada-to-U.S. long distance calls that are billed to their Bell Home phone service.

To register for the discount or get more information on the available long distance discounts for TTY/teletypewriter users, please contact the Accessibility services centre.
NOTE: Calls to 900 and 976 numbers are not accepted.

Collect, person-to-person and Calling Card calls and calls billed to a third number* are subject to regular operator-handling charges.

Calls from a public phone or hotel must be charged collect, to a third number or using a Calling Card. Calls from a public phone cannot be paid with additional coins or "quick change" cards because the Bell Relay operator cannot collect or return your money. Calls billed to a third number are always checked before a call is connected.

ANS - answer BRS - Bell Relay service CA - communication assistant (relay operator) CC - close-captioned GA - go ahead GA OR SK - go ahead if you have more to say but I'm finished GA TO SK - go ahead to stop keying or goodbye HCO -Hearing Carry Over (relay service) HD - hold HOH or HH - hard of hearing INFO - information IP RELAY - Internet Protocol Relay service KIT - keep in touch OC - open captioned OPR - operator SK - stop keying (end of call) SKSK - hanging up TERP - interpreter VCO - Voice Carry Over (relay service) VRS - Video Relay service XXX - mistake

1 800 855-0511 (Voice to TTY) 711 (TTY to Voice) 1 800 855-1155 (TTY to TTY) For Operator Assistance in billing your long distance call to another TTY.

Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability use a TTY to type their conversations to a Bell Relay operator. The operator then reads the typed conversation to the other party. The Bell Relay operator then types the other party's spoken words back to the TTY user.

Placing a Bell Relay service call

  1. Dial 711. The Bell Relay operator will answer saying Bell Canada Relay service, (operator's name) speaking, followed by GA (for go ahead).
  2. Type in the area code and number you would like to call, and then type GA. Although you are not required to give the operator your name or the name of the person you are trying to reach, doing so helps the agent connect to the person you are calling.
  3. The Bell Relay operator will dial the number. After a brief pause, the operator may tell you: "I'm just explaining the Bell Canada Relay service, please hold." The Bell Relay operator will let you know as soon as someone answers the call, i.e. "John is on the line, GA" (if you provided a name).
  4. Answering an incoming call using your TTY device
    • When your phone rings or you see the signal light flashing indicating an incoming call, place the handset on the TTY coupler and switch the power on.
    • When you receive a collect call, the TTY operator will type the name of the person calling and ask if you will accept the charges. If you accept, type YES GA; if not, type NO GA.

    General tips for TTY users

    • A TTY (sold prior to 1995) sends signals at 60 words per minute.
    • If you're making a long distance call, plan what you want to say in advance. Use abbreviations, and don't worry about spelling.
    • When calling a large corporation, be sure to give the operator the department and the name of the person you are trying to reach. This way, the call will progress much more quickly, and the operator won't have to keep repeating the procedures for using the BRS system. If you know the extension number of the person you are trying to reach, tell the operator at the beginning of the call.
    • If you type the wrong word or message, either backspace or type XXX after the mistake.
    • When you finish your turn, remember to type GA to signal the other person to respond.
    • If the person you are trying to reach is already familiar with the Bell Relay service, tell this to the operator at the beginning of the call.
    • If the message on your screen becomes garbled, press XXX or the spacebar to reconfigure your TTY.
    • You can leave messages on answering machines or voicemail systems with the Bell Relay service. When you do so, you could mention that you have called using the relay service, and leave the Bell Relay service 1 800 number with your area code and phone number.
    • When the conversation is finished, type GA or SK (stop keying). The other person will either continue or type SKSK for goodbye. You should respond with SKSK. Complete your call by placing the handset back on the phone and turn the TTY power switch off.
    • Always wait for the Bell Relay operator's GA before typing.
    • Dial 1 800 855-1155 to place collect, Calling Card and person-to-person calls, or for calls billed to a third number. These calls are subject to regular operator-handling charges and are not eligible for TTY-user discounts.
    • If you have trouble dialling a call yourself (i.e. you are cut off during your conversation or your message is garbled due a problem with the line), the TTY operator can help you complete the call. Depending on the circumstances, the charges may be adjusted.

    In case of an emergency

    • Dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Press the space bar intermittently until you get a response.
    • Be prepared. Note down your local emergency numbers and keep them near your TTY/teletypewriter for handy reference.
    • Note: the Bell Relay service is not an emergency service.

You can easily initiate home or mobile phone calls to TTY users using the Bell Relay service. A Bell Relay operator will type your spoken words to TTY users and read back their replies.

Placing a Bell Relay service call for voice users

  1. Dial 1 800 855-0511. The Bell Relay operator will answer saying Bell Canada Relay service, (operator's name) speaking, followed by GA (for go ahead).
  2. Provide the Bell Relay operator the area code and number you would like to call.
    Although you are not required to give the agent your name or the name of the person you are trying to reach, doing so helps the agent connect to the person you are calling.
  3. The Bell Relay operator will dial the number and keep you informed, as you will not be able to hear the line ring. After a brief pause, the operator may tell you: "I'm just explaining the Bell Canada Relay service, please hold."
  4. The Bell Relay operator will let you know as soon as someone answers the call, i.e. "John is on the line, GA" (if you provided a name), and read what is typed, followed by “go ahead,” which is your cue to begin speaking. Always finish by saying “go ahead” so TTY users know it is their turn to respond.

General tips for voice users

  • Speak directly to the TTY user, not to the Bell Relay operator.
  • Talk a bit more slowly than usual as the Bell Relay operator is typing in word for word what you are saying.
  • Spell names.
  • Always say “go ahead” when you are finished.
  • Always wait for the Bell Relay operator to say “go ahead” before speaking.
  • Let the Bell Relay operator know at the beginning of the call if you are familiar with the service.

If you can speak clearly, but must use a TTY to see what the other person is saying, you may request Voice Carry Over (VCO). VCO lets you speak for yourself, while a Bell Relay service operator types what the person says to you.

Placing a call to the Bell Relay service on your Voice Carry Over phone

  1. Dial 711 and watch the ringing indicator light.
  2. When the Bell Relay service answers, you will see "Bell Canada Relay service, this is [operator's name and number]” followed by GA for “go ahead."
  3. Press your phrase key for VCO ON PLEASE GA.
  4. The Bell Relay operator will type back to you VCO IS ON GA. Now they are ready to hear you speak.
  5. Tell the Bell Relay operator the name and number of the person you are calling and then say “go ahead.”
  6. After the Bell Relay operator hears your go ahead, the operator will type back to you THANK YOU PLEASE HOLD.
  7. The Voice Carry Over remains off until the Bell Relay operator connects you to the person you are calling.
  8. The Bell Relay operator will update you on the status of the call (ringing, busy and who has answered) by typing to you.
  9. When the Bell Relay operator has connected with the other person, the operator will type (NAME) IS ON THE LINE, VCO IS ON GA.
  10.  When you see the GA, it is your turn to speak. Remember to say “go ahead” when you are done.

Receiving a call on your Voice Carry Over phone from the Bell Relay service

  1. The Bell Relay service will be identified as "Bell Canada Relay service" on your call display.
  2. Answer the call and immediately send out your phrase VCO ON PLEASE.
  3. This will alert the relay agent that you are ready to speak. He or she will type "This is the Bell Canada Relay service. I have a call for (name if provided). VCO is ON GA."
  4. Respond to the Bell Relay service operator by speaking and say “go ahead” when you are done.
  5. The Bell Relay service operator will type what the caller is saying and you will see GA when it is your turn to speak.

NOTE: Since a Voice Carry Over phone cannot be used to receive text and to speak at the same time, the correct use of “go ahead” is necessary for smooth conversations.

If you can hear, but must use a TTY to type what you need to say, you may request Hearing Carry Over (HCO). Hearing Carry Over allows you to hear what the other party is saying while a Bell Relay service operator speaks for you by reading what you type to the other person.

Placing a Hearing Carry Over call

  1. Dial 711 and ensure that the handset of the phone is inserted into the TTY handset receptacle.
  2. When the Bell Relay operator answers, "Bell Canada Relay service" will appear along with the operator's name and operator number, followed by GA (for go ahead).
  3. Please note that you will be communicating via only text until the operator gets the person you are calling on the line.
  4. Type HCO ON PLEASE followed by GA. The Bell Relay operator will update you on the status of the call (ringing, busy and who has answered) by typing to you.
  5. When the operator has connected with the other person, the operator will type (NAME) IS ON THE LINE, HCO IS ON GA.
  6. When you see the GA you can begin typing. The Bell Relay operator will read your text to the person you have called. Remember to type GA when you are done.
  7. Lift the phone handset off the TTY and listen to the other person's spoken response. When they say “go ahead,” place the handset back down on the TTY and type your response.
  8. Type GA to SK (stop keying) when you are ready to end the call.

Receiving a Hearing Carry Over call

  1. Answer the call (identified as Bell Canada Relay service on your call display).
  2. Immediately place the handset on your TTY, type your greeting and HCO ON PLEASE, followed by GA.
  3. The Bell Relay operator will type who they have on the line to speak with you and also type HCO ON GA. Note: You will be communicating only via text until the Bell Relay operator initiates Hearing Carry Over.
  4. Type your response, followed by GA. Lift the handset off the TTY and listen to what is said. When you hear the caller say "go ahead,” place the handset back on the TTY and type your response.
  5. Type GA to SK (stop keying) when you are ready to end the call.

NOTE: Since a Hearing Carry Over phone cannot be used to receive text and to speak at the same time, the correct use of "go ahead" is necessary for smooth conversations.

Need more info? Speak with one of our experts.

Accessibility services centre hours of operation
Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (eastern)
By phone
1 866 310-BELL (2355) and ask for the Accessibility services centre
To contact the Accessibility services centre using a TTY
1 800 268-9242
By mail
Accessibility
P.O. Box 8787
Downtown Station
Montreal, Quebec
H3C 4R5

Email