Nebraska Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Program (NSTEP)

Nebraska Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Program (NSTEP)

NSTEP information, Participating vendor list, Providers, Technology equipment details, can all be found on Nebraska Public Service Commission website.  


Application Completion Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions

Repair Services for TTY's / Amplified Phones



Description of the Nebraska Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Program

The State of Nebraska is proud to offer the Nebraska Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Program (NSTEP). The goal of this program is to provide monetary assistance to persons with disabilities. These persons will then use the financial assistance to aid in the purchasing of specialized telephone equipment such as amplifiers, signaling devices and TTY/TTs.

The Nebraska State Legislature established the Nebraska Equipment Distribution Program during the 1995 legislative session. The Public Service Commission (PSC) was mandated to develop specific procedures necessary for implementation of the program and is responsible for management of the program.

In 1999, the legislature passed a bill that removed the income guideline requirement. The equipment distribution program will issue a voucher of up to $1,000 to deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled persons who qualify.

Vouchers can only be used to purchase specialized telecommunication equipment.

A voucher will be issued to approved applicants for the purchase of telecommunication equipment. The equipment can be purchased from any merchant selling the specialized devices. Coordinators for NEDP can provide a list of vendors distributing the specialized telecommunication equipment. The vendor can provide installation and training on the use of the equipment. Additional training assistance is available through the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.



Types of Equipment

CapTel - Captioned Telephone

Cell Phones

  • A cell phone (sometimes called a mobile phone) is an electronic device used for mobile telecommunications over a cellular network. Cell phones offer a wide range of features: simple voice function, text messaging, email, internet options and more.
  • A hard of hearing consumer may want an amplified cell phone with speaker phone options or text options. Hearing aid or cochlear implant users may experience some interference when using a cell phone. The FCC has mandated that cell phone companies provide models that are hearing aid compatible.
  • Look for this icon when shopping for hearing aid compatible cell phones:
  • A deaf consumer may want a cell phone with text messaging, email options or TTY mode options.
  • When selecting a cell phone, try it at the cell phone store to make sure it has the options you need, that it is loud enough, or is compatible with your hearing aids.
  • You must purchase the monthly cellular service with the options you select.

Computer Conversion Package

  • This package consists of a modem and software that you install in your computer. After connecting a phone line to the modem and installing the required software on your computer you will be able to use your computer as a TTY.

Large Visual Displays

  • This is a large bright display with red characters. This has adjustable brightness, display speed and direction options.


  • A pager is a simple telecommunications device for short messages. A one-way numeric pager can only receive a short numeric message (usually a telephone number). A two-way pager has t he ability to send and receive email, numeric pages and short messages. Unlike cell phones, pager messages are short and quick.
  • Paging is a subscription service offered in a variety of plans depending on the communication needs of the consumer.

Phones with Amplification built in (Corded, Cordless, Phone Amplifier)

  • Telephone amplifiers are devices used by people who are hard of hearing who have some residual hearing and use their voice. The amplifier makes sounds louder and clearer. There are several different ways a telephone can be amplified; a volume control in the handset, an in-line amplifier that is attached to the telephone and a phone that has built- in amplification. Public pay phones have a button to press or a sign explaining how to increase the volume.
  • Phones manufactured after Jan. 1,1989, must be hearing aid compatible. If a person’s hearing aid has a T-coil switch, the conversation can be amplified without having to use an amplifying device with the phone. The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988 required that telephones located in workplace commons areas and credit card operated telephones be compatible with hearing aids.

Signalers (Light Signaler, Phone Ringer, Personal Signaler, Tactile Ring Signaler)

  • Signalers are devices to alert people to audible warnings. These devices alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing to a telephone ring, a doorbell, a baby crying, fire/smoke alarms, timers, alarm clocks, pagers, and so forth. Signalers are used in the home and on the job.
  • The light signaler can be a single lamp hooked to a receiver and placed strategically around the house. Some light signalers are hard wired to the source of the sound. These lights flash in response to sounds and alert the person to the auditory source, such as a doorbell or ringing phone. A phone ringer is attached to your telephone and amplifies the volume of the ringer. This allows the hard of hearing people when the phone is ringing. The personal signaler is often used for pagers and alarm clocks. A tactile/vibrating signaler is a lightweight signaler that uses vibrating motions to notify you of an audible signal. Some signalers can be worn on your belt and works up to 80 feet away. Others are placed on a bed spring so you will be awaken while sleeping. These devices tell the user that the pager or alarm clock is ringing.

Speech Enhanced Telephones

  • This phone allows a speech-impaired person with a soft/low voice to use the phone.


  • This piece of equipment enables deaf/blind individuals to communicate on the phone, face to face, or by computer. It is designed to meet the needs of people comfortable with using a standard TTY over a phone system but can also be switched to activate the home keys and space bar as a Braille keyboard.

Teletypewriters (TTY)

  • A teletypewriter (TTY), which is sometimes referred to as a TDD or TT, is a device that allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to converse over a landline telephone line. Instead of speaking, a deaf person types his or her message on a TTY, which is simultaneously sent to another TTY.
  • A TTY looks like a small typewriter keyboard. It has a telephone modem and a small LCD screen. To use a TTY, a person dials the phone and places the handset in the TTY’s couplers/modem. An electronic signal is then transmitted across the phone line to another TTY. Other types of TTYs are directly connected to the telephone jack. With this type of equipment, the telephone number is dialed either through the telephone or through the TTY. The telephone handset is placed on the table instead of in the TTY’s couplers. TTY software is also available that can be installed on a computer, which can allow a person to use a computer to place and receive TTY calls.
  • Additional information on theAssistive Device Loan Program coordinated by NCDHH, where you can borrow a TTY

Video Phones

  • A video phone is a phone that uses the internet and not a land line telephone system. A video phone connects to a live person who can communicate by sign language.
  • Video phone communications can be executed in a variety of ways. Initially, video phone calls were made solely via computers equipped with Webcams. Using an Internet connection, two callers can communicate visually through streaming video. The drawbacks of using computers and Internet connections is the screen size is small, and video quality can drop if one’s Internet connection speed slows.
  • A true video phone is a receiver that is hooked up to a TV and transmits communications through a cable line. Using a video phone, an individual can call another person with a video phone directly, or he or she can use a relay service to call a regular telephone.
  • A video relay service connects a deaf person with an operator who interprets calls for the individual. The deaf person signs to the interpreter who then speaks what is being signed to the hearing person on the other end of the line. Then, the interpreter signs the responses from the hearing person.
  • Currently, there are new types of portable video phones. These devices can be transported and used anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Voice Carry Over (VCO) Phones

  • This phone allows a hard of hearing person the option to use their own voice to communicate to hearing people via Relay System. The user would voice for themselves, in turn they would read on the screen what the person they are calling is saying.
  • Additional information on the Assistive Device Loan Program coordinated by NCDHH, where you can borrow a voice carry over telephone.