A Senate committee has approved more money to help deaf people use telephones.

A 3-cent-per-month charge on most telephone bills pays for a special hearing-impaired system. A deaf person with a special transmitter calls a relay office where three operators translate the call to hearing people. Unfortunately, the service is so popular among the deaf that callers sometimes have to wait 10 to 15 minutes on hold to get through to the relay office. About a fourth hang up in frustration, senators were told.The 3-cent charge is also supposed to generate enough money to buy the $400 transmitters for low-income deaf and speech impaired people. But there isn't enough money for that.

Senators doubled the monthly charge to 6 cents, believing that will generate enough money at least to allow immediate access to the relay office if not buy some transmitters for the low-income disabled.