Ideas for people without much phone experience

pic of complex communication needs user with laptop

Some people with other disabilities as well as a speech impairment may not have had the opportunity to make phone calls and may need some help learning to make them before they start using the NRS.

This page contains suggestions of areas to cover with a person who is starting to learn to use the telephone and the NRS.

Learn and review how people use a phone

  • Watch and take part in calls with a family member or helper

  • Discuss different ways of communicating (phone, email, fax, SMS, instant messaging etc)

  • Talk about when and why you would use the phone rather than another way of communicating

During the call

  • Calls usually have a beginning (greetings), middle (content), and an ending (goodbyes)

  • It is important to be prepared for all of these parts of the call

  • Role-play some phone calls

Phone numbers

  • Make a list of the people the user might need to call and their numbers

  • Talk about how to find new numbers

  • For Speak & Listen callers, add names and numbers to the user's caller profile with the NRS. The user then only has to say the name and the relay officer will dial their number

Plan the calls

  • Identify several people the user might need to call, and think about what will be discussed in these calls

  • Try using a script to role-play the things you might discuss - with an unplugged phone, or two phones connected together with a Ringmaster - a device that allows two phones or TTYs to talk to each other over short distances without a phone line.

  • Make sure the user has enough knowledge and skill to type words and sentences (if they are typing) or has the vocabulary needed (if using a voice output device) to have this conversation.

Learn about NRS calls

Introduce the NRS and relay officer

Try role-playing these steps before making an actual call

  • Dial the relay number

  • Tell the relay officer who you want to call

  • Discuss the call if you need to - Speak & Listen calls only

  • Wait to be connected to the person you are calling

  • Wait for their greeting

  • Greet the other person

  • Talk with the other person - use the script you practised before

  • Say goodbye to other person

  • Wait to tell the relay officer if you want to make another call

  • Either give another number or say goodbye to the relay officer and hang up.

Checklist: before you make a live relay call

  • Does the NRS user have the telephone equipment they need?

  • Have they provided their profile to the NRS Helpdesk?

  • Do they have the name and number of the person they want to call?

  • Do they know what they want to say to the other person?

  • Do they have the literacy and vocabulary to have the discussion?

  • Are they clear that they will be in charge of the call?

  • Do they need someone sitting by to prompt these steps?

Practise making and receiving NRS calls

  • Practise making calls to call to people they know who are ready to receive an NRS call

  • Practise receiving calls

  • Role-play making emergency calls

  • Practise calls to anyone, anywhere, anytime!

Contact the Helpdesk for more information about relay calls.

Resources for teaching children and adults how to use the phone

Below are some guides and resources provided by other organisations.

How to use the telephone

How to answer the phone politely

Children learning to use the telephone: emergency and non-emergency calling
(from Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, Jan 1996)
 This article refers to 911, the emergency number in north America.  911 is not used in Australia. However you may find this information useful in helping someone learn about using Triple Zero (000), the Australian emergency number, or 106, the Australian TTY emergency number.

How to teach kids to call 911 This article also refers to 911, the emergency number in north America.  911 is not used in Australia.

Make an Internet Relay call Make a Captioned Relay call

24-hour relay call numbers

  • TTY/voice calls

    133 677

  • Speak & Listen

    1300 555 727

  • SMS Relay

    0423 677 767

Make other relay calls
– all the numbers you need
The National Relay Service really makes a huge difference to my lifestyle. If someone who is non-verbal was thinking of using the relay service – I’d say go for it."


Reservoir, Victoria