What is the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP)?
The California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) is a California State mandated program administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
What is CTAP’s goal or primary purpose?
The primary goal of the Program is to provide specialized telephone equipment and services to Californians who may have difficulty using a standard telephone. CTAP phones make it easier for these individuals to connect with friends and family, conduct business and access medical and safety services.
How is the program funded?
The Program is funded by a small surcharge that appears on all telephone bills in California. The money collected from this surcharge pays for both the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) and the California Relay Service (CRS). This surcharge appears on your phone bill as "CA Relay Service and Communications Devices Fund."
What type of phone equipment is available to CTAP customers?
CTAP offers a wide range of specialized products including:
- Ring Signal Devices
- Speech Devices
- Specialized Telephones
- Mobile Telephones
- Braille TTYs
- Fax Machines
How much do I have to pay for a specialized telephone?
The equipment is free of charge to eligible customers approved in our Program.
Who can get a free specialized telephone?
To be eligible to receive free specialized telephone equipment through our Program, you need to meet these criteria:
- Live in California
- Have telephone service
- Be certified as having one or more of the following impairments:
- Hard of Hearing
- Low Vision/Blind
There is no age or income requirement.
How do I get certified for my California Phone?
The certification section of your application form must be signed by an authorized Certifying Agent verifying your need for a specialized phone. Authorized Certifying Agents certify only those individuals whose impairment(s) make it difficult to use a standard telephone.
Certifying Agents Authorized by legislation and/or the CPUC are:
- Licensed Physician (MD) - can sign for people with any type of impairment.
- Physician Assistant - may sign for people with any disability.
- Licensed Clinical Audiologist - may only sign for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
- Licensed Hearing Aid Dispenser - must have the customer record on file, and may only sign for people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
- Licensed Optometrist - can sign only for people who are partially-sighted or blind.
- Department of Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC or RCD) - can sign for people with any type of impairment.
- Superintendent or school audiologist at the California School for the Deaf in Riverside & Fremont - may only sign for present students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Veterans Administration Physician - may sign for people with any type of impairment.
If you don't have one of these available, we can help you find a professional Certifying Agent to sign your form.
Are there any age restrictions?
No. California Phones are available to all eligible Californians, regardless of their age.
What about income requirements?
There are no income requirements to be eligible for a free California Phone.
How do I get an application form?
You can obtain an application form in any of the following ways:
- Click here for the Apply Now page where you can download application forms in different languages.
- Call our Contact Center and request an application form.
- Contact Center hours of operation are: Monday - Friday 7am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 4pm.
- Visit any one of the ten CTAP Service Centers Service Center Locations
- Call to find out about a CTAP Outreach Event near you.
What happens once my application is approved?
Once your application is approved, we will send a CTAP Approval letter requesting that you contact us at our CTAP Contact Center. That way, we can determine your individual needs and match you with the appropriate equipment and services. If needed, you can also be trained in the use of the equipment and services. Sometimes a combination of equipment and services are needed together to enable the customer to use the telephone. If it’s convenient, you can also visit one of our local Service Centers.
What can I do if I am not able to go to a Service Center?
Please call, email, or Web chat with the Contact Center. In conversation with you, the Customer Advisors at the Contact Center can often determine the best phone for you and send it to you. If necessary, they can assess your eligibility for a Field Visit.
Who qualifies to receive a Field Visit?
- A customer who may be eligible for a Telebraille or a Remote Control Telephone (RC200)
- A customer who requires specialized training and is not able to come into a Service Center
- First-time equipment users of complicated equipment such as programmable memory
There is no cost for a Field Visit.
Can I get more than one specialized phone? For example, can I get one for my kitchen and one for my bedroom?
No. A customer certified in our Program is eligible to receive only one amplified telephone, TTY, or specialized telephone equipment for use at home.
Do businesses qualify for CTAP equipment?
California non-profits, state agencies, and some educational institutions may be eligible to receive TTY equipment, but would not qualify for other Program equipment. However, we can provide the names of companies that sell equipment similar to what we offer. Under the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, many employers are responsible for providing this equipment to their employees.
We hope this information has been helpful. If you have further questions, please contact the CTAP Contact Center.