Texting for the Deaf - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Texting for the Deaf

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KENNEWICK, Wash.- Text messaging has changed the lives of millions, but there's one group who's lives have been transformed through the simple ability to text.

Most people don't think of texting as a life changer, but if you can't hear, it's the first time you've been able to communicate using a cell phone.

Michaela Thepvognsa is a normal 11 year old girl, she texts with her friends, talks on instant messenger, except for one thing.

"We wouldn't be able to communicate that much because we can't hear on the phone," Michaela said.

Michaela is deaf.  A cochlear implant gives her a little bit of hearing, but not enough to communicate.  

Instead, she mostly reads lips and signs.  Things that come in handy in person, but not over the phone.

That's where texting comes in.

"It made it much easier and we would be able to communicate without talking," she said. 

Texting is giving thousands of deaf people a new form of communication, and taking the burden off those around them.  

Before, her brother had to translate things over the phone for her, now he's free while she texts away.

"I get to do whatever I wanna do and she gets to talk to her friends by herself and everything," her brother Brandon said. 

And Michaela can get friend's numbers, stay in contact and connect like never before.

"Yeah, I like to text my friends a lot.   So that's what I do, like, if I'm at the computer or I was at the phone to text, or when I'm in the car I would text."

Even though Michaela can text, her mom says she can't find a company that will give her just texting with no voice plan so she doesn't pay for a service she can't use.

We found online that U.S. Cellular does offer a text only service which costs $24.95 a month.