A system for providing phone mail service for customers using either conventional voice telephones or text telephone units. The system of the present invention includes a phone mail unit for receiving a message from a caller, a switch connected to the phone mall unit for receiving the message and routing it to a translation unit for translation. The system also includes a gateway for receiving a data packet, containing call information related to the message. The data packet is routed to a console in the translation unit. A control interface is disposed between the gateway and the console. The control interface transfers the data packet from the gateway to the console. A communications assistant of the translation unit receives the message and data packet and translates the message from voice-to-text or text-to-voice. The translated message is then sent back to the customer's mailbox for storage and subsequent retrieval. The translated message may also be sent to the customer's electronic mailbox, pager and/or Internet address for retrieval.