Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, November 11, 1999

Options exist if you
can’t hear on phone

Question: My 92-year-old grandmother is very hard of hearing and getting worse. She has tried a hearing aid, but it just frustrates her and so she does not use it. I live on the mainland and would like to talk to her more often, but she cannot hear me on the phone and so we have not phoned each other for more than two months. Is there any agency in Honolulu I can write or talk to about something that can be done to help her hear a telephone conversation? She is getting older and I would like to keep in contact with her as much as possible.

Answer: We called the Hawaii Services on Deafness, which referred us to GTE Hawaiian Tel, which offers a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).

But in addition to that option, GTE spokesman Keith Kamisugi pointed out there are a number of amplified headsets in the marketplace that might help your grandmother. These are available locally at GTE Phone Marts, but if your grandmother is not able to handle purchases on her end, your best bet might be to check with the phone company in your city.

For example, there are portable in-line amplifiers, which sell for about $30, that amplify incoming calls more than three times above normal level and are compatible with standard and electronic phones.

For about $200, there is a "Vibraphone" that sends sound waves via bone conduction, bypassing the conventional auditory process.

Meanwhile, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 required all states to provide access to TRS nationwide. That service enables people with Text Telephones (TTYs) to communicate with people by way of a third party, who repeats messages verbatim to non-TTY users.

People with a certified hearing loss of at least 75 decibels or speech-disabled people with a certified communications disorder may rent a TTY unit for $6 a month locally. In Honolulu, the number to call is 643-8833.

Because you live in Indiana and don't have a TTY unit, you would have to work through your long-distance phone company. Contact that company for more information.

Q: Is it possible to sell flowers in a residential district? There's a house going up to Punchbowl that sells flowers for $3 a bunch. Is this permissible?

A: Selling flowers from a residential property is permitted as a home occupation, but with several restrictions, according to Jan Naoe Sullivan, director, city Department of Planning and Permitting.

The flowers have to be grown on the premises; only members of the household can be involved in the business; no signs -- not even "$3 a bunch" -- are permitted; and an additional parking space for customers must be provided on the site.

Home occupations do not need any land-use permit, Sullivan said.

If you have a question or complaint about such sales in residential areas, call 527-6308, or in non-residential areas, 527-6341.


To the man who helped me push my car when it stalled on Nimitz Highway, town-bound, at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27. He was in a small brown car with license number ESN 933. After he pushed me, he pushed another stalled car in the middle lane nearby. Auwe to the driver of a new gold car that sideswiped that man's car when he was helping us and didn't stop. -- Karen.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

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