It is sometimes easy to forget that people who are deaf did not have access to the telephone network until the TTY was developed in the 1960s and nationwide relay services began in the 1990s. Similarly, closed captions for television were developed in the 1970s, became available on a limited, voluntary basis in the 1980s with the use of closed caption decoder equipment, and were finally required and made available through built-in television caption decoder systems in the 1990s. Likewise, going to the movies was not possible until the development of captioned film prints in the 1980s and caption display systems in the late 1990s. The exclusion of generations of deaf people is something to be remembered.
At the same time, and perhaps due in part to this history, deaf people were early and eager adopters of accessible text-based communication and information systems, such as pagers, e-mail, instant messaging, and the Internet, as well as early adopters of videophones.
Today, we have assistive listening technologies, real-time captioning services, Internet captioning applications, movie caption display systems, a wide range of relay services that provide access to the telephone network, digital televisions with digital captions, and video remote interpreting services.
(Adapted from the National Association of the Deaf website).