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Adopts Rules To Improve Speech-To-Speech Relay Service

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Released: July 19, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-101


Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP)
)
CG Docket No. 08-15
Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay
)
Services
)
)

Telecommunications Relay Services
)
CG Docket No. 03-123
And Speech-to-Speech Services for
)
Individuals with Hearing and Speech
)
Disabilities
)

REPORT AND ORDER AND

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: July 19, 2013

Released: July 19, 2013

Comment Date: (30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)
Reply Comment Date: (45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register)

By the Commission: Acting Chairwoman Clyburn and Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai issuing
separate statements.

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Report and Order (Order), we amend certain telecommunications relay services
(TRS) mandatory minimum standards applicable to Speech-to-Speech (STS) relay service.1 These
amendments will ensure that persons with speech disabilities have access to relay services that address
their unique needs, in furtherance of the objectives of section 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended ("Act"),2 to provide relay services in a manner that is functionally equivalent to conventional
telephone voice services. In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) we seek comment on
other ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the STS program, for example by creating a
nationwide STS outreach program. The actions taken in this proceeding and proposed in the Notice

1 This Report and Order follows a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on various issues concerning
STS. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities
; Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP) Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay
Service, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 08-15, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 10663 (2008) (2008 STS
NPRM
). TRS, required by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), enables a person with a
hearing or speech disability to access the nation's telephone system to communicate with another person through a
relay provider and a communications assistant (CA). See generally 47 U.S.C. 225; 47 C.F.R. 64.601 et seq. (the
TRS regulations). See also Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket Nos. 90-571 and 98-67 and CG Docket No. 03-123, Report and Order,
Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 19 FCC Rcd 12475, 12479-80, 3 n.18
(2004) (2004 TRS Report and Order) (discussing how TRS works). Unless otherwise indicated, references in this
item to "STS" refer to PSTN- or interconnected VoIP-based STS.
2 47 C.F.R. 225.

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demonstrate the Commission's longstanding commitment to ensuring that TRS is available to enable
Americans with hearing and speech disabilities to communicate in a manner that is functionally
equivalent to communications using voice telephone service.

II.

BACKGROUND

A.

TRS and STS

2.
Title IV of the ADA requires the Commission to ensure that TRS is available to all
individuals with hearing and speech disabilities in the United States and to increase the utility of the
telephone system by enabling these persons to access the telephone system to make calls to, and receive
calls from, other individuals.3 Under Title IV, the Commission must ensure that, "to the extent possible
and in the most efficient manner,"4 relay services are made available that provide access to the telephone
system that is "functionally equivalent" to voice telephone services.5 The functional equivalency standard
serves as a benchmark for determining which services and features TRS providers must offer to
consumers, and is reflected throughout Title IV of the ADA and the Commission's TRS mandatory
minimum standards.6
3.
When Congress first enacted section 225 of the Communications Act, relay calls were
placed using a text telephone device (TTY) connected to the PSTN. Since then, the Commission has
determined that several new forms of relay fall within the definition of TRS and decided to include
PSTN-based STS,7 captioned telephone service (CTS),8 video relay service (VRS),9 Internet Protocol
Relay (IP Relay),10 and IP captioned telephone service (IP CTS) 11 as compensable forms of TRS.

3 Pub. L. No. 101-336, 401 (1990); 47 U.S.C. 225. When originally drafted, Title IV of the ADA limited relay
communications to calls between individuals who had a hearing or speech disability and hearing persons. However,
the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) amended the definition of TRS to
enable people with hearing or speech disabilities to use TRS to communicate with any other individual, whether or
not they have a disability. Specifically, the new definition defines TRS as "telephone transmission services that
provide the ability for an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to
engage in communication by wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent
to the ability of a hearing individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice
communication services by wire or radio." Pub. L. No. 111-260 103(a), codified at 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). See
also
S. Rep. No. 336, 111th Cong. 2d. Sess. (2010) at 2-3.
4 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
5 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
6 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). See also 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (TRS mandatory minimum standards).
7 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd
5140, 5149, 15 (2000) (2000 TRS Report and Order).
8 CTS is a form of TRS that allows the user to both listen to what is said over the telephone and simultaneously read
captions of what the other person is saying on a telephone that has a text display. See Telecommunications Relay
Services, and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
CC Docket No. 98-
67, Declaratory Ruling, 18 FCC Rcd 16121 (2003) (CTS Declaratory Ruling).
9 VRS is a form of TRS that enables the VRS user and another person to communicate through a CA in sign
language via a video link over broadband services. See 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 515254,
2127.
10 IP Relay is a text-based form of TRS that uses the Internet for the link of the call between the relay user and the
CA. See Provision of Improved Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals
with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Declaratory Ruling and Second Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 17 FCC Rcd 7779 (2002) (IP Relay Declaratory Ruling).
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4.
In March 2000, the Commission mandated that carriers obligated to provide TRS also
provide STS so that persons with speech disabilities can access the telephone system.12 STS utilizes
specially trained CAs who understand the speech patterns of persons with speech disabilities and can
repeat the words spoken by such individuals to the other parties to a relayed call.13 A person with a
speech disability can initiate an STS call by dialing 711 (the nationwide access code for state relay
providers) and giving the CA the number of the person he or she wishes to call. The CA then makes the
outbound call, and re-voices what the STS user says to the called party. Persons desiring to call a person
with a speech disability via STS can also dial 711 to reach a CA who can handle the call. At present,
states are responsible for compensating providers for the costs of providing intrastate STS, while the
Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund (Fund) compensates providers for the costs of
providing interstate STS.14

B.

2006 Petition for Rulemaking to Modify STS Rules
5.
On June 26, 2006, Bob Segalman and Rebecca Ladew (Petitioners) filed a petition
requesting that the Commission amend its rules to require an STS CA to stay with the call for a minimum
of 20 minutes, rather than 15 minutes, to the extent the call lasts 20 minutes or longer.15 Generally, the
TRS rules require CAs to stay with a call for at least 10 minutes prior to transferring the call to another
CA.16 However, when the Commission first approved STS as a form of TRS eligible for compensation
from the TRS Fund in 2000, it required STS CAs to stay with a call for at least 15 minutes before being
permitted to transfer the call to another CA.17 The Commission explained that the longer minimum for
STS calls was appropriate because "changing CAs can be particularly disruptive to users with speech
disabilities."18 The Commission also noted that "during the initial stages of a relay call there is a
"settling-in" period. During this time, "callers with speech disabilities develop greater assurance that the
CA will understand them," and "[r]otation of a CA during an STS call disrupts this assurance, and may
even cause the user to speak less clearly."19
6.
Petitioners assert that because "STS calls often last much longer than text-to-voice
calls[,] changing CAs on these calls prior to 20 minutes can seriously disrupt their flow and impair
(Continued from previous page)
11 IP CTS is a form of captioned telephone relay service that uses an Internet connection to carry the captions
between the relay provider and the user. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for
Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Internet-based Captioned Telephone Service
, CG Docket No. 03-
123, Declaratory Ruling, 22 FCC Rcd 379, 388, 22 (2007) (IP CTS Declaratory Ruling).
12 See 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5148-51, 14-20.
13 Id. at 5148, 14; 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(30).
14 See 2004 TRS Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12482-83, 7-8; 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5). See also 47 U.S.C.
225(d)(3). The Act does not prescribe a specific funding method for state programs to compensate their intrastate
TRS providers, but states generally recover the costs of intrastate TRS either through rate adjustments or surcharges
assessed on all intrastate end users, and reimburse TRS providers directly for their intrastate TRS costs.
15 Bob Segalman and Rebecca Ladew, Petition for Amendment to TRS Rule on Speech-to-Speech Relay Service, CG
Docket No. 03-123, at 1(filed June 26, 2006) (2006 STS Petition).
1647 C.F.R. 64.605(a)(1)(v). A CA might transfer a call, for example, if he or she is getting ready to end a work
shift.
17 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5169-70, 68-70; 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(v).
18 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5170, 70.
19 Id.
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functionally equivalent telephone service."20 They explain that it generally takes a few minutes for a CA
to begin to maximize his or her understanding of the speech patterns of a particular person with a speech
disability, especially when people's names and unusual technical words are used during a conversation.21
Petitioners assert that reducing the frequency of CA changes will result in calls being processed more
efficiently, and that if the Commission makes the proposed rule change the cost of STS will be reduced.22
7.
Petitioners also request that the Commission specify that the 20 minute period begins
when "effective" communication begins between the STS user and the CA.23 Specifically, petitioners
request that the Commission mandate that a call may not be transferred to a new CA until at least 20
minutes have passed after the caller establishes effective communication with the CA. Petitioners define
effective communication to be "when the CA is able to relay the communications between the parties
accurately and impartially, and interpret for the [person with a speech disability] both receptively and
expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary."24

C.

2007 Request for Clarification that IP STS is a Form of TRS Eligible for
Compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund

8.
On December 21, 2007, Hawk Relay filed a Request for Clarification that IP STS is a
form of TRS eligible for compensation from the Fund.25 The IP STS Request describes IP STS as a type
of STS that uses the Internet to connect the consumer to the relay provider.26 Instead of using a standard
telephone to make the relay call, an IP STS user can use a computer or mobile device27 and, with the
installation of softphone application software, make a voice call via the Internet to the relay provider.28
According to the IP STS Request, an IP STS call is initiated by the relay user clicking an icon on his or
her computer or device. The user is connected to a CA over the Internet and tells the CA the number to
be dialed; the CA then connects the IP STS user with the called party and relays the call between the two
parties.29 The IP STS Request asserts that IP STS offers several benefits over PSTN-based (or

20 2006 STS Petition at 3.
21 Id. at 2.
22 Id. at 3.
23 Id. The current rule simply states that the CA "answering and placing an STS call must stay with the call for a
minimum of fifteen minutes" without specifying when this period should begin. 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(v).
24 2006 STS Petition at 3.
25 Hawk Relay, Request for Expedited Clarification for the Provision and Cost Recovery of Internet Protocol
Speech-to-Speech Relay Service
, CG Docket No. 08-15 (filed Dec. 21, 2007) (IP STS Request). The IP STS Request
was moved from CG Docket No. 03-123 to a newly created docket for IP STS related issues, CG Docket No. 08-15.
Hawk Relay no longer holds eligibility certification for the provision of relay services as its 5-year certification
period expired on September 21, 2012. See Notice of Certification of Hawk Relay, LLC as a Provider of Internet
Protocol Relay (IP Relay) and Video Relay Service (VRS) Eligible for Compensation from the Interstate
Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 17020 (2007)
(granting a 5-year certification period). However, various other parties, including the Interstate TRS Council and
various consumer groups have expressed their strong support for an IP version of STS.
26 Id. at 3 (IP STS is "no different than traditional STS except ... that the user connects to a relay provider through
the Internet").
27 The IP STS Request indicated that individuals could use personal digital assistants, or PDAs, to make STS calls.
Id. at 2-3. We refer more broadly to mobile devices in this Order.
28 Id. at 2-3.
29 Id. at 3.
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"traditional") STS, including portability (the user's electronic device is not tied to a specific location) and
ease of use, particularly for persons with limited dexterity (the user does not have to dial a number, but
can just click on one icon, to initiate a call).30
9.
The IP STS Request further asserts that, as "an extension of traditional STS," IP STS falls
within the scope of TRS under Title IV of the ADA because it allows persons with speech disabilities to
access the telephone system to communicate by wire or radio.31 The IP STS Request also notes that
Congress requested the Commission to adopt TRS regulations that do "not discourage or impair the
development of improved technology."32 Consistent with this mandate, the IP STS Request explains, the
Commission has previously recognized new forms of TRS, including other Internet-based forms of TRS
(VRS, IP Relay and IP CTS), and so IP STS calls should also be eligible for compensation from the
Fund.33 Finally, the IP STS Request asks that certain TRS mandatory minimum standards be waived for
IP STS either because they have been waived for STS or are not applicable to an Internet-based service.34

D.

2008 STS NPRM
10.
On June 24, 2008, the Commission released the 2008 STS NPRM in response to the 2006
STS Petition and the IP STS Request.35 The Commission sought comment on whether to amend the TRS
rules to require STS CAs to stay with a call for a minimum of 20 minutes (rather than 15 minutes), and
whether the Commission should more specifically define the point at which the minimum period of time
begins to run.36 The Commission also sought comment on two other STS issues related to service quality.
First, the Commission sought comment on whether to amend the TRS rules to require that STS providers
offer the STS user the option of having his or her voice muted so that the other party to the call will hear
only the STS CA re-voicing the call, and not the voice of the STS user as well.37 Second, the
Commission sought comment on whether there are ways to ensure that STS users calling 711, the
nationwide dialing access code for TRS, will promptly reach an STS CA to handle their calls.38 The
latter inquiry followed a prior Commission inquiry, initiated in 2003, into whether access to STS could be
improved by using a dialing menu, e.g., an interactive voice response (IVR) system that would allow STS

30 Id. at 3-5.
31 Id. at 5, citing 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
32 Id. at 5, citing 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(2).
33 Id. at 5. The IP STS Request did not, however, address whether all IP STS calls should be compensated from the
Fund (i.e., both interstate and intrastate), and did not suggest what the appropriate IP STS compensation rate should
be, or whether it should be different than the interstate STS rate.
34 Id. at 6-7. See generally 47 C.F.R. 64.604. On February 4, 2008, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau sought comment on the IP STS Request in a Public Notice. Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Seeks Comment on Request for Clarification that Internet Protocol Speech to Speech Service is a Form of
Telecommunications Relay Service Compensable from the Interstate TRS Fund
, CG Docket No. 08-15, Public
Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 1649 (2008). See Appendix B for list of commenters to this Notice.
35 See 2008 STS NPRM.
36 Id. at 10668, 14-15.
37 Id. at 10668-69, 16.
38 Id. at 10669, 17. In 2000, the Commission adopted nationwide 711 dialing access to allow both persons with
hearing and speech disabilities and persons without such disabilities to initiate a TRS call from any telephone,
anywhere in the United States, and be connected to the TRS facility serving that calling area. Use of N11 Codes and
Other Abbreviated Dialing Arrangements
, CC Docket No. 92-105, Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 15188 (2000)
(711 TRS Dialing Order). 711 dialing access for TRS became effective on October 1, 2001. Id. at 15204, 32.
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users to choose STS as the first option in a voice dialing menu.39 Although the Commission declined to
adopt such a requirement at that time, the Commission stated that it would continue to monitor the
implementation of 711 dialing access for TRS calls (including STS calls) and encouraged TRS providers
to be innovative in finding ways to facilitate access to their services.40
11.
With respect to IP STS, the 2008 STS NPRM sought comment on its tentative conclusions
that IP STS is a form of TRS compensable from the Fund, that it should be compensated at the same rate
as STS, and that an entity desiring to offer IP STS could become eligible to do so by being accepted into a
certified state TRS program, subcontracting with an entity that is part of a certified state program, or by
seeking Commission certification.41 The Commission also tentatively concluded that "present eligibility
to receive compensation from the Fund for the provision of other forms of TRS (including STS) would
not confer eligibility with regard to the provision of IP STS."42 Further, the Commission sought comment
on the extent to which certain TRS mandatory minimum standards should be temporarily waived or
permanently made not applicable to IP STS.43 In addition, the Commission sought comment on whether
the requirements for emergency call handling and ten-digit numbering in the 2008 Interim Emergency
Call Handling Order
44 and the 2008 TRS Numbering Order45 should apply to IP STS.46
12.
In the 2008 STS NPRM, the Commission also sought comment on specific outreach
efforts that could extend the reach of STS (and possibly IP STS) to new users, and asked whether the

39 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, CG Docket No. 03-123, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration,
and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 18 FCC Rcd 12379, 12410-11, 50-52 (2003) (2003 TRS Order).
40 Id. at 12411-12, 53. In the 2003 TRS Order, the Commission also declined to adopt a separate three digit access
number specifically for STS, concluding that the ability to use the general 711 TRS dialing code provided an
adequate means for STS consumers to reach an STS CA. See also 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at
5192, 126 (seeking comment on a separate nationwide access number for STS relay). The Commission explained
that in any 711 call, the CA has to route and set up the call according to the type of TRS call (e.g., STS) requested.
To the extent STS calls are not reaching STS CAs in an appropriate fashion, the Commission added, the TRS
provider may need to provide additional CA training, deploy advanced technologies, or offer multiple dialing
options. 2003 TRS Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 12410-11, 51.
41 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10669-71, 18-23.
42 Id. at 10671, 23. The Commission first established federal certification procedures for common carriers desiring
to offer VRS and IP Relay service in 2005. Telecommunications Relay Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Report
and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 20577 (2005) (Provider Certification Order). More recently,
the Commission adopted new rules amending its processes for certifying all Internet-based TRS providers seeking
eligibility for payment from the Fund. See Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket
No. 10-51, Second Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 10898 (2011) (iTRS Certification Order).
43 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10671-72, 24.
44 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers
, CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-
196, Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 5255 (2008) (2008 Interim Emergency Call Handling Order). Specifically, the
Commission required Internet-based TRS providers to, in part: (1) accept emergency calls and deliver them to an
appropriate public safety answering point that corresponds to the caller's location; (2) request, at the beginning of an
emergency call, the caller's location; and (3) implement a system so that incoming emergency calls are given
priority handling if there is a queue. Id. at 5265, 16.
45 See 2008 TRS Numbering Order.
46 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10672, 25.
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Commission should mandate such efforts for both intrastate and interstate providers.47 In addition, the
Commission requested public feedback on whether it has the authority to require individual states to
increase the compensation rates paid for intrastate STS, and ways to ensure that compensation for
providers is adequate for the level of outreach necessary to reach potential STS users.48 Finally, the
Commission sought comment on a suggestion to have a single, nationwide provider offer both interstate
and intrastate STS and IP STS.49

E.

2010 Interstate TRS Advisory Council Proposal/2010 STS Petition
13.
On October 20, 2010, the Interstate TRS Advisory Council50 voted, at its semi-annual
meeting, to propose that the Commission: (1) establish one nationwide outreach program for STS rather
than having each state TRS program conduct individual outreach efforts; (2) initiate a rulemaking
proceeding on the feasibility of establishing one nationwide STS provider; and (3) approve IP STS as a
compensable form of TRS.51 On November 12, 2010, Petitioners submitted a second petition
recommending adoption of the first two of the Advisory Council's proposals, and proposing other matters
for the Commission's consideration.52 Specifically, the petition requested first that the Commission
utilize a single entity to deliver an effective, nationwide outreach program.53 In this regard, the petition
alleged that although six different STS providers had received more than $394,000 in outreach funding
from March 2008 through July 2010, during that same period, STS call volumes had decreased. Next,
Petitioners requested that the Commission initiate a proceeding to administer STS through a single
provider, both because of the small volume associated with this service, and "to avoid the many problems
that have resulted from VRS being administered by a large number of [providers]."54

47 Id. at 10672-73, 26-27.
48 Id. at 10673, 27.
49 Id. at 10673, 28, citing SCT Comments at 6. In response to the 2008 STS NPRM, the Commission received ten
comments and five reply comments. See Appendix B for list of commenters to this and related notices in this
proceeding.
50 The Interstate TRS Advisory Council monitors matters concerning TRS cost recovery for the Commission.
Pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H), the TRS Fund Administrator established the council as "a non-paid
voluntary advisory committee of persons from the hearing and speech disability community, TRS users (voice and
text telephone), interstate service providers, state representatives, and TRS providers, which [meets] at reasonable
intervals (at least semi-annually) in order to monitor TRS cost recovery matters." See also Telecommunications
Relay Services and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
, CC Docket No. 90-571, Third Report and Order, 8
FCC Rcd 5300 (1993) (discussing the need for and creation of this council).
51 See National Exchange Carrier Association, Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services
for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, Interstate
Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate, Exhibit F (Apr. 29, 2011)
(2011 Annual TRS Rate Filing) (filed with the accompanying TRS Advisory Council Meeting Minutes of October
20, 2011).
52 Bob Segalman and Rebecca Ladew, Petition for Rulemaking, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Nov. 12, 2010) (2010
STS Petition
). Bob Segalman has served on the Interstate TRS Advisory Council.
53 2010 STS Petition at 2.
54 Id. at 2-3. The petition also requested approval of "remote interpreting" to allow speech and language
pathologists to work from home as STS CAs, to the extent such remote interpreting is approved for VRS. Id. at 3-4.
Insofar as the practice of handling VRS from home is currently prohibited, we reject this request at this time. See 47
C.F.R. 64.604(b)(4)(iii); Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51,
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 5545, 5556-5558, 16-20 (2011) (VRS
Structure and Practices Order
). To the extent that we revise this VRS rule, we will consider re-visiting this matter
as well for STS CAs.
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F.

2011 Petition for Rulemaking for Video Assisted STS
14.
On October 20, 2011, SCT, together with eight other national disability organizations,
filed a petition requesting the Commission to open a proceeding on modernizing STS to allow people
with speech disabilities to benefit from modern IP technologies through the use of video-assisted STS, or
VA-STS (2011VA-STS Petition).55 VA-STS connects the caller and the CA via a broadband video link,
which allows the CA to see STS users as they are speaking. Petitioners claim that giving the CA the
ability to see the STS caller's mouth movements, facial expressions, and gestures, and possibly even cue
cards, can enable the CA to better understand and re-voice for the caller.56 In this manner, Petitioners
assert, VA-STS provides functional equivalence to many individuals with speech disabilities who are not
able to utilize traditional STS successfully.57 Petitioners point to the fact that there are many face and
body indicators, including the "location, orientation and movement of body, body parts and head, facial
expression and other non-manual indicators" that can add meaning to the speech of a speech impaired
individual, and without which cues the individual may not be understood.58

III.

REPORT AND ORDER

A.

Amendments to STS Mandatory Minimum Standards

15.
We amend our rules to require for each STS call lasting for 20 minutes or longer, that an
STS CA stay with the call for a minimum of 20 minutes before transferring the call to another CA.59 We
also specifically define the point at which this time period starts. We further require STS providers to
provide consumers the option to have their voice muted, and to provide a means by which STS users
dialing 711 may promptly reach an STS CA.60 We decline to require state TRS programs to increase their
outreach funding for intrastate STS calls,61 but in the accompanying Notice, consider a proposal for STS
to be offered through a single nationwide provider, as well as the merits of coordinating a national

55 Speech Communications Assistance by Telephone (SCT), Petition for Rulemaking for Video Assisted STS (VID-
STS) to Facilitate Phone Communication for People with Severe Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed
Oct. 20, 2011) (2011 VA-STS Petition). SCT was joined in this petition by the American Association of People with
Disabilities, Telecommunication for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), the Disability Rights and Education
Defense Fund, the National Association of the Deaf, the Washington State Communications Access Project, the SSB
BART Group, TecAccess, and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. Also attached to the Petitioners' submission is
a consumer petition signed by over 80 individuals and organizations in support of VA-STS. The 2011 VA-STS
Petition
refers to video-assisted STS as VID-STS. However, since some states now providing this service refer to it
as VA-STS, for the purposes of this proceeding, the Commission has adopted the VA-STS acronym. See e.g.,
California (VA-STS) http://ddtp.cpuc.ca.gov/default1.aspx?id=2974.
56 2011 VA-STS Petition at 2.
57 Id. (positing that one reason that the current form of STS may be underutilized is that many people with speech
disabilities can only be understood if they can be seen by the person with whom they are communicating when
making phone calls and that, without these additional cues, the CA has insufficient information to facilitate a
conversation).
58 Id. Petitioners also argue that the addition of VA-STS as a form of STS that can be made available to users would
enhance the employability of individuals with speech disabilities, and improve their access to emergency services.
Id. at 3. They further claim that such a regulatory change would comport with the intent of the CVAA, because this
law "recognizes how new technologies are converging and can be used to support the phone conversations of people
with hearing and speech disabilities." Id. at 4.
59 For calls of less than 20 minutes, the same CA must remain on the call for the duration of the call. We thus grant
in part the relief sought in the 2006 STS Petition.
60 These issues were raised in the 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10668-69, 16-17.
61 See 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10672-73, 26.
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outreach program for STS through a single entity.62 In addition, in the Notice, we seek input on whether
to adopt other measures that may have the potential to improve the STS program.
16.
Minimum Time Period a CA Must Stay with a Call. As we have recognized in the past,
given the nature of the interaction between an STS user and an STS CA, requiring a longer minimum
period of time that an STS CA must stay with a call than is required for other forms of TRS furthers
section 225's functional equivalency objective. Based upon the record concerning past experience with
the preexisting 15 minute period of time that an STS CA must stay with a call, we now conclude than an
incremental increase to 20 minutes would better ensure functional equivalency, and we amend our rule
accordingly.63 In particular, although the Commission's rules currently require STS CAs to stay with a
call for 15 minutes, Petitioners claim that allowing for the currently required extra 5 minutes beyond the
10 minute stay time required for traditional TRS is still not sufficient for STS users. Specifically, as
noted above, Petitioners assert that "changing CAs on . . . calls prior to 20 minutes can seriously disrupt
their flow and impair functionally equivalent telephone service."64 Although some providers contend that
a 20 minute stay time is too burdensome,65 other commenters to this proceeding agree on the importance
of extending the CA stay time to at least 20 minutes and potentially even longer noting that it
generally takes a substantial period of time (up to ten minutes or more) for an STS CA to adjust to, and
develop effective communication with, an STS user, given STS users' unique speech patterns.66 The
record also confirms that transferring an ongoing call to a new CA is often disruptive because the new
STS CA must adjust to the speech patterns of the STS user.67 Further, as the 2006 STS Petition notes,
persons with speech disabilities often require a greater amount of time and concentration to perform the
tasks of listening to the other party, thinking, forming a response, and then speaking.68 STS users also
require greater time to spell out more unusual names and words that the CA may have difficulty
understanding.69 Moreover, we believe that an incremental increase of 5 minutes in the minimum stay
time for STS CAs strikes the appropriate balance between concerns regarding the burdens on CAs and the
record evidence regarding the needs of STS users.70 For these various reasons, we revise our rules to

62 See 2010 STS Petition at 2-3.
63 See Appendix A (amending 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(v)).
64 2006 STS Petition at 3.
65 GoAmerica (predecessor to Purple Communications) does not support extending the minimum time to 20
minutes. It asserts that in many cases, given the long call set up time, the CA could be required to stay on a call for
a long period of time without a break. GoAmerica Comments at 7. Sprint, although not specifically objecting to
extending the minimum time to 20 minutes, suggests that no minimum time should be mandated and that providers
should simply be required to offer and ensure quality service throughout a call. Sprint Comments at 2.
66 See AAPD Comments at 4 (filed June 12, 2008); AT&T Comments at 2 (filed Sept. 12, 2008); TDI Coalition
Comments at 2 (filed Sept. 12, 2008); Ching Comments at 1-2 (filed July 28, 2008); Cohen Reply Comments at 1
(filed Sept. 29, 2008); Gaston Reply at 1 (filed Sept. 15, 2008); Letter from Claude L. Stout, TDI, et al., to Hon.
Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, et al., CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 08-15, at 2 (filed June 19, 2012) (TDI et al.
June 19, 2012 Ex Parte Letter); Letter from Tricia K. Buckles Shepherd, President, California Speech-Language-
Hearing Association, to Hon. Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC, et al., CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 08-15, at 1
(filed Sept. 25, 2012) (CSHA Sept. 25, 2012 Ex Parte Letter).
67 2006 STS Petition at 2; AAPD Comments at 4; TDI Coalition Comments at 2-3.
68 2006 STS Petition at 2.
69 Id.
70 As discussed above, some commenters argued that a minimum stay time of even longer than 20 minutes might be
needed, while some providers express concern about the burden a 20 minute stay time could pose for CAs. With
respect to the latter issue, we note that AT&T stated that "The Commission [initially] limited the `stay' period for
STS CAs to 15 minutes due to concerns about fatigue of the CAs. . . . AT&T's experience has been that most CAs
(continued....)
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require that STS CAs stay on a call for a minimum of 20 minutes to ensure that such calls are not unduly
disrupted and that STS users have meaningful access to the telephone system, consistent with section
225's goal of functional equivalency.71
17.
Commenters are divided on when this 20 minute period should begin to run. A few
commenters suggest that the 20 minute period should begin when the CA can adequately understand the
speech of the STS user, so that the CA can effectively voice what the STS user says to the other party to
the call.72 Some of these parties further suggest that the STS user be the one who determines when such
"effective communication" has been established.73 However, other commenters, such as AT&T, advocate
for use of a more objective standard to signal the start of this 20 minute period, such as when the CA
reaches the called party.74
18.
We conclude that the 20 minute time period should begin when the CA reaches the called
party, and amend our rules accordingly.75 Although we recognize the importance of ensuring that the
STS user and the CA are able to understand one another, so that the CA accurately conveys the utterances
of the person with a speech disability, we are concerned that Petitioners' request to base this starting time
on what they define as "effective communication" i.e., "when a CA is able to relay the communication
between the parties accurately and impartially, and interpret for the [person with a speech disability] both
receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary"76 is too subjective to allow
for any meaningful enforcement of the 20 minute rule. Therefore, we adopt an objective standard to
define when the 20 minute period begins to run: when the CA reaches the called party and begins
relaying the call. However, we emphasize that, for calls initiated by persons with speech disabilities, the
CA should initiate an outbound call to the voice telephone user only when he or she is effectively
communicating with the STS user. Moreover, especially for STS calls initiated by persons without a
speech disability, we conclude that if, once the called party has been reached, the STS user and the CA
are at any point unable to communicate effectively, the STS provider may switch the call to a different
CA before the 20 minute period has expired without violating the 20 minute in-call replacement rule.
Such result is consistent with our ruling in the VRS context, that "if the party using sign language or the
VRS CA find that they are not communicating effectively given the nature of the call, the VRS provider
may have another CA handle the call without violating the 10-minute in-call replacement rule."77 The
(Continued from previous page)
stay on a STS call for much longer than 15 minutes and that adding five more minutes to the mandatory stay period
will have minimal impact on the CAs' fatigue level." AT&T Comments at 3, n.3.
71 The 15 minute CA stay time was adopted in the 2000 TRS Report and Order when the Commission concluded
that STS falls within the scope of the TRS definition and requires that common carriers offer STS by March 2001.
See 2000 TRS Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5171, 70. The Petitioners now reasonably request a longer stay
time based on a number of years of experience with the 15 minute stay rule.
72 See e.g., AAPD Comments at 3-4; TDI Coalition Comments at 2-3; Ching Reply Comments at 2; Cohen Reply
Comments at 2; TDI Coalition Reply Comments at 4-5.
73 See e.g., Ching Reply Comments at 2.
74 See AT&T Comments at 3.
75 See Appendix A (amending 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(v)). We note that this is the same starting point for
measuring billable conversation minutes.
76 See 2006 STS Petition at 3.
77 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 21 FCC Rcd 6733, 6736, 9 (2006) (VRS In-Call Replacement Order)
As we stated in the context of VRS, the exception to the STS 20 minute in-call replacement rule does not permit
STS providers or CAs to switch CAs for other reasons unrelated to the ability to effectively communicate. Id. at
6736, 9 n.30.
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Commission adopted this exception because the in-call replacement rule "is principally intended for the
benefit of the TRS user," and when the user and the CA are not effectively communicating, the in-call
replacement rule should not act as a barrier to ensuring that the relay provider can appropriately handle
the call. 78 We believe the same exception should apply to STS, for the same reasons.
19.
Option for STS User to Have Voice Muted. We conclude that STS providers must offer
STS users the option to have their voices muted so that the other party to the call will hear only the CA,
not the user's voice, and we amend our rules accordingly.79 Commenters supported this requirement,80
and the record reflects that some TRS providers already offer this option.81 We agree with commenters
that this option will likely give more persons with speech disabilities the confidence to use STS because
many such individuals are hesitant to allow the called party to hear their speech.82 For STS users who
want this option, we believe it will help to minimize disruption to the conversational flow of a call,
thereby increasing the STS user's ability to carry on a phone conversation that is functionally equivalent
to a voice-to-voice call. Accordingly, we amend our rules to require that all STS providers offer each STS
user the option to have his or her voice muted so that the other party to the call will only hear the CA, not
the user's voice.
20.
STS Calls Initiated by Dialing 711. In 2000, the Commission adopted nationwide 711
dialing access to allow both persons with disabilities and voice telephone users to initiate a TRS call from
any telephone, anywhere in the United States, and be connected to the TRS facility serving that calling
area.83 The Commission found that by eliminating the difficulties that individuals had with finding or
remembering various relay numbers as they traveled from state to state, and by reducing the number of
digits needed for accessing relay services, nationwide implementation of 711 access to TRS made relay
access convenient, fast, and uncomplicated, resulting in greater functional equivalence for TRS use.84
21.
As noted above, in 2008, we sought comment on a number of 711 issues specific to STS
users.85 We noted that the Commission was in receipt of complaints from STS users who reported being
disconnected upon dialing 711 during the transfer to an STS CA, indicating perhaps a lack of proper
training on the part of some CAs, or the lack of proper equipment to receive and transfer STS calls to an
STS CA.86 We asked whether there are means by which we could ensure that STS users can reach an
STS CA promptly and without disconnection after dialing 711, for example through the use of a prompt
or menu.87 In response, several commenters propose that when an STS user dials 711, the call should
automatically reach an interactive voice response (IVR) system menu with STS as an option at the first

78 Id.
79 See Appendix A (adding 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(viii)).
80 See e.g., AAPD Comments at 4; AT&T Comments at 3; TDI Coalition Comments at 3; Hamilton Comments at 2;
Cohen Reply Comments at 2; TDI et al. June 19, 2012 Ex Parte Letter at 2; CSHA Sept. 25, 2012 Ex Parte Letter at
1.
81 See, e.g., GoAmerica Comments at 7; Hamilton Relay Comments at 2.
82 See, e.g., AAPD Comments at 4; TDI Coalition Comments at 3.
83 711 TRS Dialing Order. 711 dialing access for TRS became effective on October 1, 2001. Id. at 15204, 32.
84 711 TRS Dialing Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 15196-97, 14.
85 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10669, 17.
86 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10666, 9.
87 Id. at 10669, 17. The Commission had declined to adopt this type of dialing menu requirement for 711 in its
2003 TRS Order, but stated therein that it would monitor the implementation of 711 dialing access, as 711 dialing
access was relatively new at that time. 2003 TRS Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 12411-12, 52-53.
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level of menu prompts, such as "Press 1 for Speech-to-Speech service." 88 Sprint offers such functionality
in Texas and New York.89
22.
Rather than mandating any particular technical solution,90 we conclude that STS
providers must, at a minimum, employ the same means of enabling their STS users to connect to a CA
when dialing 711 that they use for all other forms of TRS. For example, where a provider requires its
CAs to directly answer incoming 711 calls (i.e., they do not use an IVR menu system for incoming TRS
calls), it must ensure that its CAs are trained to discern the specific needs of STS users and promptly
transfer these incoming calls to STS CAs, so that these callers have the same timely access to
communications that other TRS callers have.91 Additionally, the provider may not require that the caller
hang up and dial a different number (e.g., a toll free number) to reach an STS CA because this, too, would
defeat the purpose of requiring easy dialing access as established in the 711 TRS Dialing Order,92 and
impose a particular hardship on STS users, many of whom have limitations in their motor dexterity due to
stroke, cerebral palsy or other muscular limitations that have caused their speech disabilities.93 Moreover,
ensuring that an STS user does not have to dial twice to reach an STS CA appropriately implements
section 225's requirement that TRS be provided in a manner that is functionally equivalent to traditional
telephone service.94
23.
To the extent that a provider uses an IVR menu system that allows a direct connection to
a CA for TTY-based and other forms of TRS on the first level of menu prompts, it must allow STS users
to connect directly to an STS CA from that first level of prompts.95 Ensuring that STS users are not
required to navigate through extra dialing menus will enable such users to communicate by telephone in a
manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of an individual who does not have a speech
disability.96 In addition, having such direct access should be especially helpful to STS users, who, as
noted above, may have dexterity limitations.
24.
We note, however, that the mandate for 711 dialing does not preclude STS providers
from offering a single nationwide toll free number as a supplement to 711 dialing access. Indeed, the 711

88 See e.g., AAPD Comments at 5; Sprint Comments at 3; TDI Coalition Comments at 5; Cohen Reply at 3; TDI et
al.
June 19, 2012 Ex Parte Letter at 3.
89 See Sprint Comments at 3 (supporting the dialing prompt requirement for STS).
90 See AT&T Comments at 4 (opposes the mandate of any specific technical solution to allow providers to develop
solutions that enable STS users to reach an STA CA with least amount of effort); GoAmerica Comments at 8
(asserting that requiring a first level IVR prompt would unduly burden the 99 percent of 711 calls that are not STS
calls). Because we do not mandate any specific technical solution at this time, we conclude that our approach does
not implicate AT&T's and GoAmerica's concerns.
91 See Hamilton Comments at 3 (explaining that Hamilton trains its employees to discern the specific needs of STS
users and does not use an IVR with its 711 system).
92 See AAPD Comments at 4-5 (noting that STS users are sometimes instructed to hang up and dial a toll free STS
number or that their phone calls are directed to a traditional TRS CA, not one trained in STS); TDI Coalition Reply
Comments at 6-7.
93 See e.g., AAPD Comments at 5; TDI Coalition Comments at 5. See also 31 infra, describing various medical
conditions and illnesses that can result in developing a speech disability.
94 See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
95 Specifically, when an STS user dials 711 and connects to an IVR system, if the user receives a list of options,
such as "Press one for TTY relay, press two for voice carryover relay," one of these options must allow him or her
to press a number to reach an STS CA (e.g., "press three for speech-to-speech relay").
96 See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
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TRS Dialing Order encouraged the use of alternate, direct access numbers to reach specific relay services
and made clear that such numbers, as well as caller profiles, which can speed call processing by enabling
TRS centers to respond to STS callers using their preferred mode of communication, "could provide a
means of handling relay calls in a manner that is consistent with our mandatory minimum standards." 97
However, contrary to the suggestions of some commenters, a dedicated toll-free number for STS calls
cannot take the place of 711 STS dialing access, as this would be inconsistent with the intent of the 711
TRS Dialing Order
, which was to ensure that easy dialing access be available to all persons with hearing
and speech disabilities seeking to use TRS across the country, as well as to voice telephone users seeking
to call such persons.98 The same considerations underlying that prior decision continue to persuade us
that this approach best implements section 225.

B.

IP and VA-STS

25.
In the 2008 STS R&O and NPRM, the Commission tentatively concluded that IP STS
meets the definition of TRS under section 225(a)(3) of the Act, and thus may be eligible for compensation
from the Fund.99 We explained that IP STS allows persons with speech disabilities to use a computer or
PDA connected to the Internet, rather than a standard telephone connected to the PSTN, to initiate a call
and speak to a CA.100 In this regard, we noted that IP STS borrows from both the STS and IP Relay
services that the Commission has previously recognized as forms of TRS. We also noted that using the
federal TRS Fund to compensate providers for both interstate and intrastate calls (rather than interstate
calls only) would be "consistent with the present treatment of the other Internet-based forms of TRS
VRS, IP Relay, and IP CTS and the fact that because one link of the call is made via the Internet it is
generally not possible to determine if a particular call is interstate or intrastate."101
26.
We now conclude, however, that we need additional information in order to determine
whether an additional form of STS that utilizes Internet-based transmissions is necessary to achieve
functional equivalence for Americans with speech disabilities, and, if so, to establish the parameters for
such form of STS . To begin with, given the growth and development of interconnected VoIP services
since 2006, it appears that STS users already can obtain the claimed advantages of IP STS, such as the
ability to make calls on a mobile or Internet-enabled device, by simply using an interconnected VoIP
service to access a state STS relay center.102 Additionally, as noted above, since adopting the 2008 STS

97 711 TRS Dialing Order at 15202, 28.
98 Id. at 15196-97, 14 (noting that "711 access to TRS supports the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act by
increasing the integration of people with disabilities into society, and is in the public interest," citing 42 U.S.C.
12101 et seq.). Contra, GoAmerica Comments at 8 (recommending the adoption of a single nationwide toll-free
number per STS provider). The Commission previously rejected adopting a nationwide STS number that was
different than 711 in 2003 because the 711 TRS Dialing Order already required that carriers implement 711 dialing
in a way that gives users access to all mandated relay services. See 2003 TRS Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 12379, 12410-
11, 50-51.
99 2008 STS NPRM at 20669-70, 18-19. The Commission also tentatively concluded that entities desiring to
provide IP STS may seek certification from the Commission under the certification rules that existed at the time. Id.
at 10671, 23.
100 Id. at 20669, 18.
101 Id. at 20669-70, 19.
102 Such access is required by our rules and orders. See IP-Enabled Services; Implementation of Sections 255 and
251(a)(2) of The Communications Act of 1934, as Enacted by The Telecommunications Act of 1996: Access to
Telecommunications Service, Telecommunications Equipment and Customer Premises Equipment by Persons with
Disabilities; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities; The Use of N11 Codes and Other Abbreviated Dialing Arrangements
, WC Docket No. 04-36,
(continued....)
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R&O and NPRM , the Commission received the 2011 VA-STS Petition, requesting the Commission to
open a proceeding on VA-STS, which employs IP video technologies to enhance relayed communication
by people with speech disabilities.103 Petitioners claim that allowing the CA the ability to see and get
cues from, "the user's face and any available seen body parts or indicators," such as facial expressions
and the orientation and movement of the body, enables the CA to more effectively re-voice what a person
with a speech disability says during a call.104
27.
We are committed to fulfilling our statutory mandate to encourage the technological
advancement of TRS services.105 We also note that some of the actions taken in the recent VRS Structural
Reform Order
, including the creation of a neutral video communications service platform, user
registration database and access technology reference platform, could help make VA-STS widely
available in an efficient manner.106 Accordingly, in the coming months, we will open a proceeding to
seek comment on whether an additional form of STS that utilizes Internet-based transmissions is
necessary to achieve functional equivalence for Americans with speech disabilities, and, if so, how such
service should be structured and provided under the Commission's TRS program.107

C.

Other Matters Pertaining to STS

28.
Some commenters propose other initiatives to further enhance the use and quality of STS.
For example, the TDI Coalition asserts that STS providers should be required to inform STS users of the
TRS confidentiality rules so that prospective STS users would be reassured that their privacy is being
preserved.108 While we agree on the need for STS users (who are otherwise not familiar with relay
services) to understand their right to conversational privacy, we decline to adopt this proposal because we
(Continued from previous page)
WT Docket No. 96-198, CG Docket No. 03-123, CC Docket No. 92-105, Report and Order, 22 FCC Rcd 11275,
11296-97, 42-43 (2007).
103 See 14, supra.
104 2011 VA-STS Petition at 2.
105 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1), (d)(2). It appears that VA-STS already is being offered in California, Louisiana, and
Virginia. Minnesota has also announced its intention to begin providing this service.
106 See Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP)
Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay Services
, CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123, Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 28 FCC Rcd 8618, 8656-60, 87-102 (2013) (VRS Structural Reform
Order
). See also 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1) (directing the Commission to "ensure that . . . telecommunications relay
services are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner . . . ."), 225(d)(1) (directing the
Commission to "prescribe regulations to implement this section").
107 Some parties propose that STS, as well as Internet-based STS, be provided through a single provider that is
selected and overseen at the federal level, claiming that the small user base would make provision of this service by
one provider more efficient, as well as more effective for consumers. See, e.g., STS Petition at 2-3; AAPD
Comments at 5; SCT Comments at 6; 2010 STS Petition at 2-3; National Exchange Carrier Association, Interstate
Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and
10-51, Exhibit F (filed Apr. 29, 2011) (TRS Advisory Council urges the Commission to initiate a rulemaking
proceeding to assess the feasibility of establishing one nationwide provider for all forms of STS). But see Hamilton
Comments at 4-5, Sprint Comments at 5, and GoAmerica Comments at 10-11, claiming that the provision of this
service by one provider would eliminate the competition needed to improve service and foster innovation. Because
we believe that the Commission's decisions regarding the structure of STS should take into consideration all forms
of this service, including forms of STS that utilize Internet-based transmissions, we will defer consideration of this
issue until we address the larger structural issues attendant with providing all forms of STS in the next rulemaking
referenced above.
108 TDI Coalition Comments at 3 (stating that this confidentiality notification is important because of the concerns
that many prospective STS users have about preserving the privacy and confidentiality of their communications).
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are concerned that adding this requirement to the start of every STS call may be unduly burdensome for
both the CA and other users, many of whom may already be familiar with this mandatory minimum
standard. Instead, we believe that informing potential users of their right to TRS confidentiality is best
incorporated into any outreach efforts that are required by our current or future rules. A second
recommendation, made by AAPD, is to require STS users' profiles to be immediately available to the
STS CA each time an STS user places an STS call so that providers can provide a better and more
"consistent STS relay experience" for users.109 We believe that this proposal deserves consideration, but
defer its resolution until after we seek and obtain further input on its merits in response to the Notice
accompanying this Order. In addition, AAPD and the TDI Coalition recommend that when an STS user
is silent and does not say "good-bye," the CA should not terminate the call until at least 60 seconds has
passed; in this way, the call would not be disconnected prematurely.110 The Notice also seeks comment
on this, as well as the suggestion of several commenters for the FCC to establish an STS Advisory
Council for the purpose of formulating an STS outreach plan.111 We therefore will consider these matters
after receiving public feedback on their merits as well.

IV.

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

A.

STS Outreach

29.
Although the Commission approved STS as a compensable relay service in 2000,
according to the TRS Administrator's annual rate filings, demand for this service has remained relatively
modest, and its growth has been slow compared with other forms of TRS.112 The 2010 STS Petition
alleges that outreach efforts over the last decade have only resulted in the use of STS by an estimated one
percent of prospective users.113 Several commenters to this proceeding also raise concerns about the
under-utilization of STS.114

109 AAPD Comments at 4.
110 AAPD Comments at 4; TDI Coalition Comments at 4.
111 See TDI Coalition Comments at 8; AT&T Reply Comments at 7-8; GoAmerica Comments at 9; Hamilton
Comments at 3.
112 Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates LLC, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and
Fund Size Estimate, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, at 12 (filed May 1, 2013) (2013 TRS Rate Filing); Rolka
Loube Saltzer Associates LLC, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund
Size Estimate, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, at 11 (filed Apr. 30, 2012) (2012 TRS Rate Filing); 2011 TRS
Rate Filing
at 11; National Exchange Carrier Association, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund
Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, at 11 (filed Apr. 30, 2010) (2010
TRS Rate Filing
); National Exchange Carrier Association, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund
Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, at 10 (filed May 1, 2009) (2009 TRS
Rate Filing
).
113 2010 STS Petition at 3. See also 13, supra, suggesting that despite the distribution of $394,000 in outreach
funding to six different STS providers from 2008-2010, STS call volume during that period decreased.
114 See, e.g., SCT Reply Comments in response to the 2011 TRS Rate Filing (filed May 23, 2011) (stating that
despite additional funding for outreach, the efforts have been ineffective and proposing a nationwide outreach
program to be conducted by a third party entity). Previously, in response to the 2008 Rate Order,
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 23 FCC Rcd 9976 (2008) (2008 Rate Order), several parties expressed
the need to improve STS outreach. See Hamilton Comments at 2-3; TDI Coalition Comments at 8; GoAmerica
Comments at 10 (suggesting additional outreach funds for IP STS if approved as a new form of compensable TRS).
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30.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
(NIDCD), there is a sizeable population of people in the United States who have speech disabilities.115
This population includes individuals who have spasmodic dysphonia,116 cleft palates,117 cerebral palsy,118
Parkinson's disease,119 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's),120 aphasia,121 Huntington's
disease,122 and speech disabilities such as stuttering or stammering.123 As our nation continues to age, the
incidence of older Americans likely to acquire conditions that cause speech disabilities is likely to rise.124
Moreover, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is recognized as the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and

115 National Institutes on Health, "Statistics on Voice, Speech, and Language." NIH National Institute on Deafness
and Other Communication Disorders, June 7, 2010, https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/vsl.aspx
(retrieved May 28, 2013). See also, 2011 VA-STS Petition at 2-3 (providing various statistics on the number of
people who can benefit from STS).
116 Spasmodic dysphonia is a voice disorder that is caused by involuntary movements of the muscles of the larynx.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, "Statistics on Voice, Speech, and Language"
(June 7, 2010), https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/vsl.aspx (retrieved May 28, 2013).
117 Id.
118 See National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Cerebral Palsy: Hope through Research" (Aug. 23,
2012), http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/detail_cerebral_palsy.htm#154443104 (retrieved May 28,
2013). The United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Foundation estimates that nearly 800,000 children and adults in the United
States are living with one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. According to the federal government's
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year about 10,000 babies born in the United States will develop
cerebral palsy. Id.
119 See National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Parkinson Disease Backgrounder" (Oct. 18, 2004),
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/parkinsons_disease/parkinsons_disease_backgrounder.htm (retrieved May 28,
2013). In the United States, at least 500,000 people are believed to have from Parkinson's disease, and about 50,000
new cases are reported annually. Id.
120 See ALS Association, "Who Gets ALS?" (Feb. 2011), http://www.alsa.org/about-als/who-gets-als.html (retrieved
May 28, 2013). It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have ALS disease at any given time. Id.
121 See National Aphasia Association, "Aphasia Frequently Asked Questions,"
http://www.aphasia.org/Aphasia%20Facts/aphasia_faq.html (retrieved May 28, 2013). Aphasia affects about one
million Americans, or 1 in 250 people, and is more common than Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy or muscular
dystrophy. More than 100,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year. Id.
122 See National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Huntington's Disease: Hope through Research"
(Apr. 24 2013), http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/huntington/detail_huntington.htm#160493137 (retrieved May
28, 2013). More than 15,000 Americans have Huntington's disease. At least 150,000 others have a 50 percent risk
of developing the disease and thousands more of their relatives live with the possibility that they, too, might develop
Huntington's disease. Id.
123 Gordon, Neil, "Stuttering Incidence and Causes," Wiley Online Library (Feb. 13, 2007),
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2002.tb00806.x/abstract (retrieved May 28, 2013).
Although about 80% of an estimated 1% of Americans who stutter will outgrow their disability, there remain
thousands of Americans who stutter. Id.
124 As people age, their speech is often impacted by changes in language, memory, and swallowing, as well as by
their increased chances of having a stroke or developing dementia or Parkinson's disease, and thus experiencing the
concomitant communication disorders related to these diseases. See, e.g., http://www.asha.org/slp/clinical/aging/
(retrieved May 28, 2013). For example according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the
number of people with Parkinson's disease is "expected to increase as the average age of the population increases."
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Parkinson Disease Backgrounder" (Oct. 18, 2004),
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/parkinsons_disease/parkinsons_disease_backgrounder.htm (retrieved May 28,
2013).
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Afghanistan, and between 15 percent and 23 percent of the 2 million who have served in wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, or 300,000 to 460,000 returning veterans, have experienced a TBI.125 One of the most
critical consequences of TBI can be its severe impact upon an individual's communication and speech
skills.126
31.
To ensure that individuals with speech disabilities who need STS become aware of its
availability and how to access these services, the Commission has been supplementing the STS interstate
per minute rate to include additional funds for STS outreach activities for the past six years.127 However,
this supplemental funding has not increased the number of interstate STS minutes of use by any
significant amount over the past several years. Moreover, since 2009, the TRS Fund administrator has
suggested in each of its annual rate filings that the Commission may wish to revisit this additional funding
to determine whether there is a more effective way to inform consumers with speech disabilities about the
availability of this service.128
32.
The Commission would like to learn more about the reasons that STS has not been more
widely utilized. For example, are people with speech disabilities not connected to an organized or
culturally identified disability community that could provide them with information and resources about
assistive technologies and services that can be of use to them? Are there other reasons why this service is
not more widely utilized? We seek comment on the number of individuals with speech disabilities who
are potential users of this service and what steps can be taken to ensure that individuals who could benefit
from STS can use this service. We specifically ask whether it would be more efficient and effective to
utilize a single entity to conduct nationwide STS outreach, instead of continuing the current system of

125 See e.g., Congressional Budget Office, "The Veterans Health Administration's Treatment of PTSD and
Traumatic Brain Injury Among Recent Combat Veterans" Feb. 2012,
http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/02-09-PTSD.pdf (retrieved May 28, 2013); Davis, Marc,
"Soldiers' brain trauma cases disputed," The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Apr. 22, 2012,
http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/soldiers-brain-trauma-cases-disputed/nQTD6/ (retrieved May 2, 2013).
126 See, e.g., Wallace, Gloriajean, "Blast Injury Basics: A Primer for the Medical Speech-Language Pathologist,"
Brainline.org, http://www.brainline.org/content/2008/08/blast-injury-basics-primer-medical-speech-language-
pathologist_pageall.html (retrieved May 28, 2013); Zoroya, Gregg, "Troops With Traumatic Brain Injury Face Long
Road to Recovery," ABC News/USA Today, July 31, 2010), http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/iraq-afghanistan-
troops-traumatic-brain-injury-face-long/story?id=11287674 (retrieved May 28, 2013).
127 At present, the STS rate is $2.9921, which includes $1.131 as compensation for outreach activities. See
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program
, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51,
Order, , DA 13-1483 7 n.10 (rel. July 1, 2013) (2013 TRS Rate Order); Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Structure and Practices of the
Video Relay Service Program
, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51, Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 7151, 2 n.6 (2012 TRS
Rate Order
); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program
, CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-
51, Order, 26 FCC Rcd 9972, 9979, 17 (2011) (2011 TRS Rate Order); Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 25
FCC Rcd 8689, 8699, 22-23 (2010) (2010 TRS Rate Order); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 24 FCC Rcd
8628, 8631, 8634, 8, 15 (2009) (2009 TRS Rate Order); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 23 FCC Rcd
9976, 9978-79, 9981, 6, 13 (2008) (2008 TRS Rate Order); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Report and Order
and Declaratory Ruling, 22 FCC Rcd 20140, 20171, 61 (2007 TRS Cost Recovery Order) (first authorizing this
supplemental amount).
128 See n.129, supra.
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providing outreach funds to each of the individual interstate STS providers through the STS
compensation formula. The 2010 STS Petition recommends contracting with a single entity for the
delivery of an effective, nationwide STS outreach program in lieu of the current outreach subsidy.129 It
notes that this campaign could educate potential users about the service's availability because the low
volume of STS minutes has resulted in "extremely little outreach in most states" and "almost no
communication between states about effective techniques of providing . . . STS outreach."130
33.
We tentatively agree that centralizing STS outreach efforts supported by the Fund in a
single, coordinated entity can result in more effectively reaching and educating a greater portion of the
population of Americans who could benefit from this service, and seek comment on this tentative
conclusion. The Commission previously has noted the importance of outreach to ensure that the general
public and people with disabilities acquire sufficient familiarity with TRS to meet Congress's goal of
making available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, a nationwide relay service that
is functionally equivalent to conventional voice telephone services.131 Moreover, the Commission
recently concluded, with respect to VRS and IP Relay, that a national outreach effort that does not rely on
the efforts of individual providers is necessary and appropriate to achieve these section 225 objectives.132
The Commission explained that outreach conducted by individual VRS and IP Relay providers has not
been effective in educating the general public about the purpose and functions of these services.
Additionally, the Commission noted that it has been difficult to determine the extent to which outreach
expenditures by these TRS providers have overlapped with each other, and therefore the extent to which
funds devoted to this purpose have been reasonable or excessive. To remedy this, the Commission set up
a two-year pilot program, the iTRS National Outreach Program (iTRS-NOP), to provide VRS and IP
Relay outreach on a national basis through an independent third party outreach coordinator.133
34.
We believe that the section 225 directive for the Commission to prescribe regulations that
ensure relay services are "available . . . in the most efficient manner"134 makes it appropriate to take new
steps to better educate the public about the purpose and functions of STS and provides us with sufficient

129 2010 STS Petition at 2.
130 Id. at 3.
131 See, e.g., Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities and the Americans
with Disabilities Act,
CC Docket No. 90-571, Report and Order and Request for Comments, 6 FCC Rcd 4657, 4663,
28 (1991) (TRS I) (adopting the outreach requirement); 711 TRS Dialing Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 15189, 1; VRS
Structural Reform Order
, 28 FCC Rcd at 8632, 27.
132 See id. at 8634, 31. This is similar to the Commission's action to set aside $500,000 for national outreach
during each TRS Fund year of the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution (pilot) Program (NDBEDP) a
program established to distribute communications equipment to people who are deaf-blind under the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act . Implementation of the Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Section 105, Relay Services for Deaf-Blind Individuals
, 26
FCC Rcd 5640, 5675-76, 80 (2011) (NDBEDP Pilot Program Order). In 2012, the Commission selected a single
entity to coordinate this outreach effort. Perkins School for the Blind to Conduct National Outreach for the National
Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
, CG Docket No. 10-210, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 6143 (2012).
133 VRS Structural Reform Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 8637, 34. In that Order, we directed "the Managing Director, in
consultation with the Chief of CGB, to (i) select one or more iTRS Outreach Coordinators to conduct and coordinate
IP Relay and VRS outreach nationwide and be compensated through the Fund or (ii) contract with the TRS Fund
administrator to enter into such arrangements under objectives and factors determined by the Managing Director in
consultation with the Chief of CGB." Id.
134 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1) (directing the Commission to "ensure that . . . telecommunications relay services are
available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner . . . ."), 225(d)(1) (directing the Commission to
"prescribe regulations to implement this section").
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authority to direct that a national STS outreach effort be funded for this purpose from TRS contributions
as a necessary cost caused by TRS.135 We ask commenters whether they agree with this assessment. We
further ask commenters whether, given that the Commission has resolved to establish the iTRS-NOP for
IP Relay and VRS, we should bundle national STS outreach efforts into this national outreach program.
What are the costs and benefits of combining these efforts? For example, are there efficiencies to be
gained in contracting with a single entity or a group of single entities for all types of TRS outreach? Or
are there characteristics of STS or the population served by this service that necessitate a separate
outreach effort? If the latter, we ask commenters to describe these characteristics, as well as any criteria
needed for the selection of a national STS outreach coordinator that should be different from the criteria
used to select a national coordinator of VRS and IP Relay outreach. Additionally, if the Commission or
the Interstate TRS Fund administrator contracts with a single entity for the handling of STS calls, and we
decide on a national outreach effort that is separate from the iTRS-NOP, we seek comment on whether
the entity selected to provide STS also should be eligible to become the national STS outreach
coordinator, or whether the outreach coordinator should be independent of any provider of STS.
35.
We also seek comment on the criteria that should be used to select a nationwide outreach
program coordinator, as well as the outreach activities for which such coordinator should be responsible.
With respect to the latter, we seek feedback on whether the coordinator should be required to engage in
the following activities, as well as any other activities not identified below:

Consulting with consumer groups, STS providers, the TRS Fund administrator, and other STS
stakeholders;

Establishing clear and concise messaging about the purposes, functions, and benefits of STS;

Contacting and providing direct outreach and education to relevant medical, disability and
senior citizen organizations, associations and medical professionals whose constituencies, members, and
patients are likely to benefit from STS;
136

Determining media outlets and other appropriate avenues for providing information about STS to
identified medical, disability and senior citizen organizations, associations, and professionals, the general
public and potential new-to-category subscribers;


Preparing for and arranging for publication, press releases, announcements, digital postcards,
newsletters, and media spots about STS that are directed to identified medical, disability and senior citizen
organizations, associations, and professionals, as well as retailers and other businesses, including trade
associations;


Creating electronic and media tool kits that include samples of the materials listed in the
previous bullet, and which may also include templates, all of which will be for the purpose of facilitating the
preparation and distribution of such materials by consumer and industry associations, governmental
entities, and other STS stakeholders;


Providing materials to local, state, and national governmental agencies on the purposes,
functions, and benefits of STS; and,

Exploring opportunities to partner and collaborate with other entities to disseminate information
about STS.

135 2010 STS Petition at 2; VRS Structural Reform Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 8636, 32, n.93.
136 Organizations that represent individuals with the types of medical conditions and disabilities listed in paragraph
31 above may have a particular interest in sharing information about STS with their constituencies and members.
These would include, for example, organizations that represent or address the interests of individuals with cerebral
palsy, Parkinson's disease, strokes, etc.
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36.
We propose that an entity selected by the Commission or the Interstate TRS Fund
administrator to coordinate such outreach be required to work with and submit periodic reports to the
Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and to the Managing Director, which report
measure and describe the effectiveness of the entity's outreach efforts, and seek comment on these
proposals. We also seek comment on whether there should be specified levels of outreach activities that
the STS national outreach coordinator should be required to meet, and how and by whom these levels
should be set and evaluated. If a national outreach program is established, we propose that the additional
amount currently added to the STS per minute rate for outreach be discontinued from future rates, and
seek comment on this proposal. If we choose not to continue reimbursing the cost of outreach activities
on a per minute basis to providers, we seek feedback on whether a specified amount should be set aside
from the Fund on an annual basis for nationwide outreach activities, what this amount should be, and how
it should be determined. Finally, should the cost of providing STS as well as STS outreach be allocated
between the Interstate TRS Fund and the state program funds, and, if so, how?

B.

Consumer Eligibility, Registration and Verification

37.
In recent years, the Commission has undertaken significant efforts to ensure that its
Internet-based TRS programs are structurally sound and are free from waste, fraud and abuse.137 For
example, the Commission has established registration requirements for IP Relay and VRS users,138
adopted interim rules requiring that users of IP captioned telephone relay services document their
eligibility to use that service,139 and adopted sweeping reforms of the VRS program.140 Of particular
concern to the Commission is making sure that only those individuals who are truly eligible for different
forms of TRS are allowed to use these services. Accordingly, we seek comment on how to establish rules
to clearly define and oversee the eligibility, registration, and verification of STS users. As an initial
matter, we note that in the VRS Structural Reform Order, the Commission recently directed the creation
of a user registration database for VRS users.141 Should STS providers be required to use this database to
register all individuals seeking to use STS, whether STS is provided by a single provider or if it remains
with the states? As part of the registration process, should users be permitted to provide self-certification
that they have a speech disability? For example, is this readily identifiable to the CA when a call is
made? Or should users be required to obtain a signed certification from a qualified independent third
party that the user has a speech disability that necessitates the use of STS in order to be able to effectively
communicate when using the telephone? Should any such user certification be required once, before the
user begins using the service, or should it have to be renewed at specified intervals, and if the latter, what
should these intervals be? Generally, we seek comment on the costs and benefits associated with a
certification requirement, as well as whether such requirements will effectively fulfill Congress's
directive to the Commission, in section 225 of the Communications Act, to ensure that TRS is available,
"to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner," to persons with hearing and speech
disabilities.142 Finally, we propose that any certification ultimately required by our rules be made under
penalty of perjury as an added layer of assurance that the individual's disability satisfies our eligibility

137 See VRS Structure and Practices Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5545; iTRS Certification Order, 26 FCC Rcd 10898.
138 See Second TRS Numbering Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 808-811, 36-38.
139 See Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Captioned Telephone Service; Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket Nos. 13-24 and 03-
123, Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 28 FCC Rcd 703,716-720, 19-26 (2013).
140 See e.g. VRS Structure and Practices Order; VRS Structural Reform Order.
141 VRS Structural Reform Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 8656, 62-86.
142 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
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requirements and seek comment on this proposal.143 We seek comment on the issue of certification of
eligibility generally. Commenters who do not believe these certification proposals are appropriate should
offer alternative requirements that can be used to ensure that only eligible individuals who are intended to
benefit from this service (i.e., who need STS to communicate in a manner that is functionally equivalent
to communication by voice telephone users) are permitted to use it. We also ask commenters to weigh
the potential benefits and potential costs of these proposals.
38.
We further ask whether we should adopt a centralized process by which the identities of
STS users are verified, as we have done in the VRS Structural Reform Order.144 In that Order, we directed
the Managing Director to ensure that a centralized user registration database has the capability of
performing an identification verification check when a VRS provider or other party submits a query to the
database about an existing or potential user.145 We further directed that the criteria for identification
verification (e.g., information to be submitted, acceptable level of risk, etc.) shall be established by the
Managing Director in consultation with the Commission's Chief Technology Officer and the Chief of the
Office of Engineering and Technology. Finally, we required that VRS providers not be permitted to
register individuals that do not pass the identification verification check conducted through the user
registration database, and not seek compensation for calls placed by such individuals. We ask whether
the same requirements should now apply to STS providers.

C.

Mandatory Minimum Standards for STS

39.
In the 2008 STS NPRM, the Commission tentatively concluded that IP STS providers
would not need to meet the following TRS mandatory minimum standards to be eligible for
compensation:146 (1) CA competency in typing and spelling;147 (2) ensuring that TTY calls over TRS can
be transmitted in ASCII and Baudot formats;148 (3) call release;149 (4) hearing carry over (HCO) and voice
carry over (VCO) services;150 (5) equal access to interexchange carriers;151 (6) pay-per-call (900)

143 See, e.g., Lifeline & Link Up Reform and Modernization, WC Docket No. 11-42, Report and Order and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6709-11, 111-14, 6712, 120 (2012) (amending 47 C.F.R.
54.410 to require, among other measures to reduce fraud, abuse, and waste in the Lifeline program, that eligible
telecommunications carriers obtain initial and annual self-certifications by consumers, under penalty of perjury,
establishing their eligibility for Lifeline support). See also 47 C.F.R. 54.416(a) (requiring eligible
telecommunications carriers themselves to certify annually, under penalty of perjury, that they have policies and
procedures in place to ensure that Lifeline subscribers are eligible and that they are in compliance with all federal
Lifeline certification procedures).
144 VRS Structural Reform Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 8656, 86.
145 Id. (noting that the National Lifeline Accountability Database has the same functionality, and citing Lifeline and
Link Up Reform and Modernization Order
, 27 FCC Rcd at 6743, 201).
146 2008 STS NPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 10602, 24.
147 This includes the requirement that CAs meet a typing speed of a minimum of 60 words per minute. 47 C.F.R.
64.604(a)(ii), (iii).
148 Providers of traditional TRS (i.e., text-based TRS calls made using a TTY) must ensure that the TTY can
communicate in either the ASCII or Baudot formats. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(5), (7), 64.604(b)(1).
149 Call release is a TRS feature that allows the CA to drop from the call after the CA has set up a telephone call
between two TTY users. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(8).
150 HCO permits a person with a speech disability, but who is able to hear, to type text to the other party to the call
(which is voiced by the CA), and listen in return to what the called party is saying. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(13). VCO
permits a person with a hearing disability, but who is able to speak, to speak directly to the other party to the call
(instead of typing text), and receive in return the called party's spoken words as text. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(42).
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service;152 and (7) outbound 711 dialing.153 GoAmerica and Hamilton agree with this tentative
conclusion, and note that certain mandatory minimum standards are either not applicable to IP STS given
the nature of the service, or should be waived due to present technological infeasibility.154
40.
Although we are no longer seeking comment on the provision of IP STS as originally
conceived in the IP STS Request, we now propose to amend the Commission's rules to state that the
following mandatory minimum standards not be applied to any form of STS because they are inapplicable
to this service, and seek comment on this proposal:
CA competency in typing and spelling. These skills pertain to typing, and a CA is not required to
type messages during an STS call.
Ensuring that TTY calls over TRS can be transmitted in ASCII and Baudot formats. TTYs are
not used in STS calls.155
Call release. This feature is designed to ensure the continuation of a phone call between two
TTY users, and STS users do not make calls using TTYs.156
Voice Carry Over (VCO). VCO is designed to enable a person with a hearing disability, but who
is able to speak, to speak directly to the other party to the call, and receive in return the called
party's spoken words as text. An STS user can hear directly the responses of the other party to
the call.

D.

Other Matters

41.
During the course of this proceeding, various commenters raised suggestions for
improving STS that went beyond the scope of the 2008 STS NPRM. For example, AAPD recommended
that STS user profiles be immediately available to an STS CA each time an STS user places a call, to
allow the provider to provide a better and more "consistent STS relay experience" for users.157 In
addition, AAPD and the TDI Coalition recommended that when an STS user is silent and does not say
"good-bye," the CA should not terminate the call until at least 60 seconds has passed; in this way, the call
would not be disconnected prematurely.158 Another recommendation, made by several commenters, was
for the FCC to establish an STS Advisory Council for the purpose of formulating an STS outreach plan.
We seek comment on these recommendations, and any other matters that the Commission should address
(Continued from previous page)
151 Equal access to interexchange carriers requires providers to relay long distance calls through the consumer's
choice of interexchange carrier. 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(3).
152 Pay-per-call (900) services are services for calls that include a charge billed to the calling party. 47 C.F.R.
64.604(a)(3)(iv).
153 Outbound 711 dialing permits TRS users to dial 711 to reach a relay provider. 711 Dialing Order, 15 FCC Rcd at
15190-91, 3; 47 C.F.R. 64.603.
154 IP STS Request at 6-7; Hamilton Comments at 4; GoAmerica Comments at 5.
155 Note that although the requirement that "TRS shall transmit conversations between TTY and voice callers in real
time" is not, by its terms, applicable to STS, STS providers must relay calls between the parties in real time. See 47
C.F.R. 64.604(a)(vii).
156 Call release also is presently waived for IP Relay. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service
Providers
, CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-196, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 7113, 7120, 12-13 (2012) (2012
TRS Waiver Order
).
157 AAPD Comments at 4.
158 Id. at 4; TDI Coalition Comments at 4.
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to achieve the full utilization of STS. For example, should we establish a mandatory minimum standard
for training of CAs who handle STS calls or any other mandatory minimum standards that are specific to
STS?159 Finally, we seek information about any technological advances in end user equipment since the
submissions of the petitions in this proceeding that may bear on the provision of this service.
42.
To what extent should providers be required to allow STS users to create caller profiles?
Such profiles generally allow users to pre-submit their preferences for call handling, including their
contact information (for emergencies), language preferences, and speed dial numbers,160 which may speed
up the time needed for STS call set-up. If providers should be required to offer caller profiles, what
should users be allowed to include in these profiles? What are the costs and benefits of mandating the
availability of profiles?
43.
Finally, are there other enhancements to STS that the Commission should know about?
For example, one provider recently implemented a national wireless short code to make it easier to place
or receive STS calls.161 We seek comment on the benefits of using such a code nationwide. We generally
invite comment on other improvements that can be made to STS consistent with the functional
equivalency mandate and section 225 more generally.

V.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Comment Filing Procedures

44.
Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules,162 interested parties may
file comments and reply comments regarding the Notice on or before the dates indicated on the first page
of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System
(ECFS).163

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS): http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this
proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking
number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325,
Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of
before entering the building.

Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.

159 We note that for all types of TRS, our rules specify certain minimum standards for the CAs who handle these
calls. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a) (listing operational standards governing CAs in handling relay calls).
160 See e.g., http://sprintsts.com/myprofile.html
161 See http://www.engadget.com/2012/05/18/sprint-my-wireless-sts-speech-to-speech-service/.
162 47 C.F.R. 1.415 and 1.419.
163 See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
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U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
45.
Documents in CG Docket Nos. 08-15 and 03-123 will be available for public inspection
and copying during business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street
SW, Room CY-A257, Washington, D.C. 20554. The documents may also be purchased from BCPI,
telephone (202) 488-5300, facsimile (202) 488-5563, TTY (202) 488-5562, e-mail fcc@bcpiweb.com.

B.

Ex Parte Presentations

46.
This proceeding shall be treated as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding in accordance with
the Commission's ex parte rules.164 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written
presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the
presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral
ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must (1) list all
persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made,
and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation
consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's
written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to
such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant
page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them
in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are
deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b).165 In
proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f)166 or for which the Commission has made available a method of
electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations,
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that
proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in
this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

C.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

47.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),167 the
Commission has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification in which it concludes that, under
the terms of RFA, there is no significant economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules
addressed in this document. The Certification is set forth in Appendix C.
48.
As required by the RFA, the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules
addressed in this item. The IRFA is set forth in Appendix. D. Written public comments are requested on
this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for
comments on the Notice provided on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this Order and
Notice. The Commission will send a copy of the Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for

164 47 C.F.R. 1.12001.1216.
165 Id. 1.1206(b).
166 Id. 1.49(f).
167 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq. The RFA has been amended by the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996.
Pub. L. No. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the CWAAA is the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
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Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.168 In addition, the Order and Notice and IRFA (or
summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.169

D.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

49.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis. The Order does not contain any new or
modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA).170
In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified information collection burden for small
business concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of
2002.171
50.
The Notice seeks comment on proposed new information collection requirements. If the
Commission adopts any new information collection requirement, the Commission will publish another
notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to comment on the requirements, as required by the
PRA.172 In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002,173 the Commission
will seek specific comment on how it might further reduce the information collection burden for small
business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

E.

Congressional Review Act

51.
The Commission will send a copy of this Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the
Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.174

F.

Materials in Accessible Formats

52.
To request materials in accessible formats (such as Braille, large print, electronic files, or
audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
at (202) 418-0530 (voice) or (202) 418-0432 (TTY). This Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
can also be downloaded in Word and Portable Document Formats (PDF) at
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/trs.html.

VI.

ORDERING CLAUSES

53.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), (j), and (o), 225, and 403
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), (j), and (o), 225, and 403, this
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking IS HEREBY ADOPTED.
54.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the 2006 STS Petition IS GRANTED to the extent
indicated herein.
55.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that section 64.604 of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R.
64.604, IS AMENDED as specified in Appendix A, effective 60 days after publication of the Report and
Order in the Federal Register.
56.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order and

168 See id. 603(a).
169 Id.
170 Public Law 104-13.
171 Public Law 107-198. See 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
172 Public Law 104-13. See 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.
173 Public Law 107-198. See 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
174 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
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Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification and
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch

Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Final Rule Changes

The Commission amends 47 C.F.R. Part 64 as follows:
PART 64 MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS
1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 254(k); 403 (b)(2)(B), (c), Public Law 104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or
apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 225, 226, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless otherwise noted.
2. Amend section 64.604 by revising paragraph (a)(1)(v) and by adding paragraphs (a)(1)(viii) and (b)(7)
to read as follows:
64.604 Mandatory minimum standards.
(a) Operational standards
(1) * * *
* * * * *
(v) CAs answering and placing a TTY-based TRS or VRS call shall stay with the call for a minimum of
ten minutes. CAs answering and placing an STS call shall stay with the call for a minimum of twenty
minutes. The minimum time period shall begin to run when the CA reaches the called party. The
obligation of the CA to stay with the call shall terminate upon the earlier of (1) the termination of the call
by one of the parties to the call or (2) the completion of the minimum time period.
* * * * *
(viii) STS providers shall offer STS users the option to have their voices muted so that the other party to
the call will hear only the CA and will not hear the STS user's voice.
* * * * *
(b) * * *
(7) STS 711 Calls. An STS provider shall, at a minimum, employ the same means of enabling an STS
user to connect to a CA when dialing 711 that the provider uses for all other forms of TRS. When a CA
directly answers an incoming 711 call, the CA shall transfer the STS user to an STS CA without requiring
the STS user to take any additional steps. When an interactive voice response (IVR) system answers an
incoming 711 call, the IVR system shall allow for an STS user to connect directly to an STS CA using the
same level of prompts as the IVR system uses for all other forms of TRS.
* * * * *
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APPENDIX B

List of Commenters

COMMENTERS

COMMENT DATE

PN on Hawk IP STS Request

American Network, Inc.
May 22, 2008
Speech Communications Assistance by
May 8, 2008
Telephone, Inc. (SCT)
2008 STS Petition
American Association of People with
September 12, 2008
Disabilities (AAPD)
Hamilton Relay, Inc.
September 12, 2008
GoAmerica, Inc.
September 12, 2008
Hawk Relay, LLC
September 12, 2008
Indianapolis Resource Center for Independent
September 12, 2008
Living (IRCIL)
Services for Independent Living (SILC)
September 12, 2008
Sprint Nextel Corporation
September 12, 2008
Walton Options for Independent Living
September 12, 2008
(WOIL)

TDI Coalition consisting of:

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of
September 12, 2008
Hearing, Inc.
Speech Communications Assistance by
September 12, 2008
Telephone, Inc.
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.
September 12, 2008
National Association of the Deaf
September 12, 2008
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy September 12, 2008
Network
California Coalition of Agencies Serving the
September 12, 2008
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Hearing Loss Association of America
September 12, 2008
Center for People with Disabilities (CPWD)
September 11, 2008
Winston Ching
July 28, 2008

REPLY COMMENTS

REPLY COMMENT DATE

AT&T
September 29, 2008
Hawk Relay
September 29, 2008
Law Offices of Jane Cohen, LLC
September 29, 2008
TDI Coalition
September 29, 2008
Winston Ching
September 29, 2008
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APPENDIX C

Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification

1.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA)1 requires that a regulatory
flexibility analysis be prepared for rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that "the rule will
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."2 The RFA generally
defines "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization,"
and "small governmental jurisdiction."3 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as
the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.4 A small business concern is one
which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3)
satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).5
2.
Speech-to-speech (STS) relay service is a form of telecommunications relay service
(TRS) that utilizes specially trained communications assistants (CAs) who understand the speech patterns
of persons with speech disabilities and can repeat the words spoken by such individuals to the other
parties to a relayed call.6 In the Report and Order, the Commission concludes that requiring an STS CA
to stay with the call for a minimum of 20 minutes is best served to ensure the effective and efficient
relaying of STS calls. The Commission also finds that requiring that STS providers offer the STS user
the option of having her or his voice muted so that the other party to the call would hear only the STS CA
re-voicing the call, and not the voice of the STS user as well, will give potential STS users the confidence
necessary to use STS. In this Report and Order, the Commission further requires that STS providers
must, at a minimum, employ the same means of enabling their STS users to connect to a CA when dialing
711 that they use for all other forms of TRS. For example, when a CA directly answers an incoming 711
call, the CA must transfer the STS user to an STS CA without requiring the STS user to take any
additional steps. When an interactive voice response (IVR) system answers an incoming 711 call, the
IVR system must allow for an STS user to connect directly to an STS CA using the same level of prompts
as the IVR system uses for all other forms of PSTN-based TRS.
3.
The Commission concludes that these new requirements are necessary to improve the
effectiveness and quality of STS so that individuals with speech disabilities may receive functionally
equivalent telephone service, as mandated by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We believe
that none of these requirements would impose a significant burden on providers, including small

1 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq. The RFA has been amended by the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996,
Pub. L. No. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the CWAAA is the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
2 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
3 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
4 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in Small Business Act,
15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
5 Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 632.
6 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(30); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 5140, 5148, 14 (2000) ("2000 TRS Report and Order").
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businesses. Specifically, each of the three new requirements entail only minor operational changes that
can be accomplished at minimal cost to each provider of STS, including small businesses.
4.
In analyzing whether a substantial number of small entities will be affected by the
requirements adopted in the Report and Order, the Commission notes that the SBA has developed a small
business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such firms having
1,500 or fewer employees.7 Five providers currently receive compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund
for providing STS: AT&T Corporation; Hamilton Relay, Inc.; Kansas Relay Service, Inc.; Purple
Communications, Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corporation. The Commission notes that only one of these five
providers is a small entity under the SBA's small business size standard. Because each of the three new
requirements adopted in the Report and Order entail only minor operational changes that can be
accomplished at de minimis cost to each provider of STS, the Commission concludes that there will be no
significant economic impact on the small entities affected by the changes adopted in this Report and
Order
.
5.
Therefore, for all of the reasons stated above, we certify that the requirements of this
Report and Order will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
6.
The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including a copy of this Final
Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA.8 This final
certification will also be published in the Federal Register.9

7 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 31,996 firms in
the Wired Telecommunications Carrier category which operated for the entire year. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007
Economic Census, Sector 51: EC0751SSSZ2: Information: Subject Series - Estab & Firm Size: Employment Size of
Establishments for the United States: 2007 (Release Date: 11/19/2010).
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-fds_name=EC0700A1&-_skip=700&;-
ds_name=EC0751SSSZ2&-_lang=en. Of this total, 30,178 firms had employment of 99 or fewer employees, and an
additional 1,818 firms had employment of 100 employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, the vast majority
of firms can be considered small. (The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms
that have employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is "Firms with 100 employees or
more"). Id.
8 See 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
9 See id.
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APPENDIX D

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),1 the Commission has prepared this
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small
entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Written public
comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must
be filed by the deadlines for comments in the Further Notice. The Commission will send a copy of this
Further Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration (SBA).2 In addition, the Further Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be
published in the Federal Register.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

2.
Speech-to-speech (STS) relay service is a form of telecommunications relay service
(TRS) that utilizes specially trained communications assistants (CAs) who understand the speech patterns
of persons with speech disabilities and can repeat the words spoken by such individuals to the other
parties to a relayed call.4 In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), the Commission seeks
comment on four main issues. First, the Commission seeks comment on ways to improve outreach to
increase awareness and utilization for STS, and whether the Commission should contract with a single
entity to educate potential users about the service's availability. Second, to ensure the integrity and long
term sustainability of the service and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, the Commission seeks comment on
whether it should adopt consumer eligibility, registration and verification requirements to ensure that only
individuals with speech disabilities who need the service can use it. Third, the Commission seeks
comment on whether certain mandatory minimum standards, are inapplicable to STS, including CA
competency in typing and spelling, transmission format of TTY calls, call release of a CA from a call
with only two TTY users, and voice carry over (VCO), where a person with a hearing disability speaks to
the other party to the call, but receives the other party's spoken words as text from the CA. Fourth, the
Commission seeks comment on whether to adopt requirements for STS providers to facilitate the ability
of STS users to create caller profiles. The Commission tentatively concludes that these proposed rule
changes may be necessary to improve the efficiency of the STS program and to ensure effective, quality
STS services so that users with speech disabilities may receive functionally equivalent telephone service,
as mandated by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

B.

Legal Basis

3.
The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to the Notice is contained in
sections 1, 2, 4(i), 4(j), and 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.5

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed


1 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. The RFA has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of
1996 (SBREFA). Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). Title II of the CWAAA is the Small Business
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
2 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
3 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
4 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(30); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 5140, 5148, 14 (2000) ("2000 TRS Report and Order").
5 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), and 225.
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Rules May Apply

4.
The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of
the number of small entities that may be affected by the rules.6 The RFA generally defines the term
"small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization," and
"small governmental jurisdiction."7 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as the
term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.8 A small business concern is one which:
(1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any
additional criteria established by the SBA.9
5.
We believe that the entities that may be affected by the proposed rules are STS providers.
Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition of "small entity" specifically directed
toward STS providers. The closest applicable size standard under the SBA rules is for Wired
Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.10 Five
providers currently receive compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund for providing STS: AT&T
Corporation; Hamilton Relay, Inc.; Kansas Relay Service, Inc.; Purple Communications, Inc.; and Sprint
Nextel Corporation. Therefore, we conclude that one of the five STS providers that would be affected by
the proposed rules is deemed to be a small entity under the SBA's small business size standard.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements

6.
Certain rule changes, if adopted by the Commission, would modify rules or add
requirements governing reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance obligations.
7.
If the Commission were to contract with a single outreach coordinator to educate
potential users about the availability of STS, STS providers, including small entities, would be relieved of
the obligation to conduct outreach, but would still be permitted to engage in their own marketing
activities. There would be no reporting or recordkeeping obligations associated with the proposed rule
change.
8.
If the Commission were to adopt consumer eligibility, registration and verification
requirements to ensure that only individuals with speech disabilities who need the service can use it, STS
providers, including small entities, would be required to collect, verify, and maintain certain information

6 5 U.S.C. 604(a)(3).
7 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
8 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in the Small Business Act,
15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
9 15 U.S.C. 632.
10 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 31,996 firms
in the Wired Telecommunications Carrier category which operated for the entire year. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007
Economic Census, Sector 51: EC0751SSSZ2: Information: Subject Series - Estab & Firm Size: Employment Size of
Establishments for the United States: 2007 (Release Date: 11/19/2010).
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-fds_name=EC0700A1&-_skip=700&;-
ds_name=EC0751SSSZ2&-_lang=en. Of this total, 30,178 firms had employment of 99 or fewer employees, and an
additional 1,818 firms had employment of 100 employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, the vast majority
of firms can be considered small. (The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the number of firms
that have employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is "Firms with 100 employees or
more"). Id.
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from consumers and to maintain such information. The Commission believes that such costs would be
reasonable for STS providers, because it is the consumers who would be required to supply the
information to the providers. In other words, the obligation of the providers, including small entities,
would be to receive the information from the consumers, and to verify and maintain the information. The
Commission believes that the recordkeeping cost to providers would be de minimis for receiving and
maintaining the information, and that the cost of verifying the information would be reasonable, because
the task of verification would likely be contracted out to a company that can do such verification at a
reasonable price, as is typically done in the banking industry and other industries that require verification
of consumer-supplied information. If the Commission assigns the task of verification to the manager of a
common database, then the STS providers would transfer the information to the central database manager,
and the TRS Fund would compensate the database manager. Under the latter scenario, TRS providers,
including small entities, would not be responsible for the cost of verification.
9.
If the Commission were to find certain mandatory minimum TRS standards to be
inapplicable to STS, all STS providers, including small entities, would benefit because they would not
need to comply with those mandatory minimum standards and would be relieved of recordkeeping and
reporting obligations associated with such mandatory minimum standards.
10.
If the Commission were to adopt requirements for STS providers to permit STS users to
create caller profiles, STS providers, including small entities, would need to obtain and maintain
information supplied by the users. However, the cost of creating and maintaining user profiles would be
outweighed by the cost savings associated with reduced call set-up time, which is not compensable
because providers may bill the Fund for conversation minutes only.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

11.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives, specific to small
entities, that it has considered in developing its approach, which may include the following four
alternatives (among others): "(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or
timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification,
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small
entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of
the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities."11
12.
In general, alternatives to proposed rules are discussed only when those rules pose a
significant adverse economic impact on small entities. In this context, however, two of the proposed rules
would confer benefits as explained below.
13.
If the Commission were to contract with a single outreach coordinator to educate
potential users about the availability of STS, STS providers, including small entities, would benefit,
because they would be relieved of the obligation to conduct outreach. STS providers would still be
permitted to engage in their own marketing activities.
14.
If the Commission were to adopt consumer eligibility, registration and verification
requirements to ensure that only individuals with speech disabilities who need the service can use it, STS
providers, including small entities, would be required to collect, verify, and maintain certain information
from consumers. The Commission believes that such costs would be reasonable for STS providers,
because it is the consumers who would be required to supply the information to the providers. In other
words, the obligation of the providers, including small entities, would be to receive the information from
the consumers, and to verify and maintain the information. The Commission believes that the
recordkeeping cost to providers would be de minimis for receiving and maintaining the information, and

11 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
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that the cost of verifying the information would be reasonable, because the task of verification would
likely be contracted out to a company that can do such verification at a reasonable price, as is typically
done in the banking industry and other industries that require verification of consumer-supplied
information. One alternative to relieve STS providers, including small entities of the verification
obligations would be to assign the task of verification to the manager of a common database. If this were
done, STS providers would transfer the information to the central database manager, and the TRS Fund
would compensate the database manager. Under the latter scenario, TRS providers, including small
entities, would not be responsible for the cost of verification. The Commission is not proposing other
alternatives for small entities because these requirements may be needed to limit waste, fraud and abuse,
and an ineligible user can potentially defraud the TRS Fund by obtaining service from large and small
entities alike. Therefore, if the Commission were to adopt registration, certification and verification
procedures, the same requirements would need to apply to users of small entities as well as large entities.
15.
If the Commission were to find certain mandatory minimum TRS standards to be
inapplicable to STS, all STS providers, including small entities, would benefit because they would not
need to comply with those mandatory minimum standards and would be relieved of recordkeeping and
reporting obligations associated with such mandatory minimum standards.
16.
If the Commission were to adopt requirements for STS providers to permit STS users to
create caller profiles, STS providers, including small entities, would need to obtain and maintain
information supplied by the users. However, STS providers, including small entities, would benefit from
establishing user profiles because the cost of creating and maintaining user profiles would be outweighed
by the cost savings associated with reduced call set-up time. Call set-up time is not compensable because
providers may bill the Fund for conversation minutes only.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with Proposed Rules

17.
None.
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STATEMENT OF

ACTING CHAIRWOMAN MIGNON CLYBURN

Re:
Speech-to-Speech (STS) and Internet Protocol (IP) Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay
Services; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
CG Docket Nos. 08-15 and 03-123
Today we mark the eve of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in three distinct
ways. First, as you have just heard, we are improving the service that allows people with speech
disabilities to communicate through telephone networks. This is another step toward fulfilling the
promise of Title IV of the ADA, which requires access by people with hearing or speech disabilities to
our telephone system through telecommunications relay services. Second, our Consumer Bureau will
release a Public Notice seeking comment on a request to update our hearing aid compatibility standards,
which will allow people with hearing loss to have better volume control on wireline phones. Finally, later
this morning, we will hear from our staff about the Commission's implementation of another landmark
law, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The CVAA is already
ensuring that all Americans with disabilities are able to use a host of the latest communications and video
programming technologies currently available to the general public.
The Speech-to-Speech, or "STS" item before us highlights a unique service that allows those with
speech disabilities to connect to others using the phone network and specially trained communications
assistants. The Commission first mandated STS in 2000 as a means of fulfilling our charge under the
ADA, to ensure that the nation's relay services make use of modern technologies.
In the years that followed, the Commission has received requests and proposals for improving
this critical service, and today, we answer these requests by improving service standards for those using
phone services.
By requiring communication assistants to stay with each STS call for a minimum of 20 minutes,
we lessen the disruption that sometimes results when assistants are timed out from a call before it is
concluded. It generally takes a few minutes for a communications assistant to gain a full understanding of
the speech patterns of a person with a speech disability, especially if names and technical terms are used
during a conversation. Reducing the number of times that these assistants must change during a call will
result in greater functional equivalency for the user and will allow these calls to be processed more
efficiently. Similarly, our requirement for STS providers to offer users the option of having their voices
muted during a call will minimize disruption to the conversational flow of the call. Finally, by ensuring
that consumers who access STS by dialing 711 are able to promptly reach a communication assistant, we
will make it easier for them to use these services.
We also seek comment on other ways we can improve STS. We particularly remain concerned
that despite considerable outreach funding that has been provided over the past several years, there are
many potential STS users who could benefit from, but remain unaware of, this service. The proposal to
centralize STS outreach efforts through a single, national outreach coordinator is another step in
improving the Commission's stewardship of the TRS Fund. Our goal is to efficiently reach and educate a
greater portion of the population of Americans who could benefit from this service. We also ask how best
to register, certify and verify STS users, which builds on our recent actions on video relay services to curb
waste, fraud, and abuse. There should be no doubt about our unwavering commitment to a sustainable
Fund supporting these services.
35

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FCC 13-101


Finally, we are aware that a new form of STS, which uses video technology over broadband to
allow the communication assistant to see the STS user as he or she is speaking, is now being provided by
certain state TRS programs. We understand from some of the petitioners in this proceeding, that having
the ability to see the STS caller's facial expressions, gestures, and lip movements as well as cue cards
that the caller could hold up to show names and other difficult-to-pronounce words can help the
communications assistant to better understand, and re-voice, for the STS user. We will be opening a
second STS proceeding in the coming months, to seek comment on this new form of STS, as well as other
ways that Internet-based technologies can help improve this service.
I am so pleased to announce these new rules, which bring us closer to functional equivalence for
Americans with speech disabilities. STS relay provides an invaluable service to these often overlooked
members of our community, and enables them to participate more fully in American life. I wish to
acknowledge the extraordinary work of Dr. Bob Segalman, founder of STS, whose ingenuity has enabled
people with speech disabilities across the country to enjoy independence and privacy when using the
telephone. Unfortunately, Bob could not be here with us today as he is based in California, but we hope
that he is watching our live web feed. We know that he is with us in spirit. Additionally, I want to
express appreciation to Rebecca Ladew, a local Speech-to-Speech advocate, who has served on some of
our advisory committees. Bob and Rebecca, your commitment to these issues is unparalleled, and we
thank you for the work that you have done to make it possible for people with speech disabilities to have
seamless communication.
Of course, today and next week's ADA celebration are milestones, but by no means the end of
the road. So much more remains to be done to ensure that people with disabilities are full participants in
this communications revolution. I thank my fellow Commissioners for joining me as we move further
toward this most important goal.
I want to thank the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau for its outstanding work to
ensure that individuals with speech disabilities have full access to our communications system, and for all
your efforts to fulfill our obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-101


STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL

Re:
Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP) Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay
Services, Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket Nos. 08-15, 03-123
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, functional equivalency has been the foundation of our
telecommunications relay service policies. Functional equivalency may sound like the kind of regulatory
lingo that only a lawyer could love. But for millions of Americans with hearing and speech impairments,
it means that they have the right and ability to pick up the phone, reach out and connect, and participate
more fully in the world.
Today, more than one million Americans, including an increasing number of veterans suffering
from brain injuries, live with speech disabilities. These disabilities can make it difficult to communicate
and hard to make even a simple phone call. But the Commission's speech-to-speech telecommunications
relay service is designed to help. Our rules permit people with speech disabilities to speak with a trained
communications assistant who then relays the words of the speech-to-speech user to the called party. It
means that people with speech disabilities can do the things so many of us take for granted--pick up the
phone and seek emergency help; secure a job; make a doctor's appointment; follow up with a child's
teacher; and connect with family and friends.
But as good as this program is, there is room for improvement. So today we take steps to
improve speech-to-speech services. Specifically, to limit disruption for users, we require communications
assistants to stay on the line for at least 20 minutes before switching the caller to a new assistant. At the
same time, we permit a speech-to-speech communications assistant to transfer a call to another assistant if
he or she is unable to understand the speech-to-speech user. Speech-to-speech users also may now mute
their voices on a call to reduce listener confusion. In addition, we seek comment on ways to increase
awareness of the speech-to-speech program so it can help more people with speech disabilities
communicate effectively. The net result should be more dignity for users, more clarity for
communications assistants, and more effective calls.
Thank you to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau for your work today and for your
continued commitment to functional equivalency.
37

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-101


STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI

Re:
Speech-to-Speech and Internet Protocol (IP) Speech-to-Speech Telecommunications Relay
Services
, CG Docket No. 08-15; Telecommunications Relay Services for Speech-to-Speech
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123.
Seventy-nine years ago, Congress created the Commission "to make available, so far as possible,
to all the people of the United States, without discrimination . . . a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and
world-wide wire and radio communication service."1 And Congress reiterated that message 23 years ago
with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today we reaffirm our commitment to this vital
mission by strengthening the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) program used by so many
Americans with disabilities.
The reforms we make to the Speech-to-Speech component of TRS may appear incremental for
some, but they can be monumental for those in need. The muting requirement, for example, is a simple
fix to ensure that the message of those with a speaking disability comes through clearly. Extending the
minimum stay-time should allow fuller, longer discussions for users. And making Speech-to-Speech
service easier to access is just as important; there's no reason why 711 can't offer the full range of TRS
programs, including Speech-to-Speech service, from the same straightforward, interactive menu.
None of the reforms adopted today would be possible without the hard work of the Commission's
Disability Rights Office--Gregory Hlibok, Marilyn Abraham, Helen Chang, Rosaline Crawford, Jackie
Ellington, Elaine Gardner, Eliot Greenwald, Solita Griffis, Christina Hebert, John Herzog, Roger
Holberg, Sherita Kennedy, Cheryl King, Diane Mason, Judy Miller, Traci Randolph, ShaVonne Morris,
Suzy Rosen Singleton, and Dana Wilson--along with their front-office support: Kris Monteith, Karen
Peltz Strauss, and Robert Aldrich. Thank you for everything you've done not only with respect to today's
item but in your ongoing work to support Americans with disabilities.

1 47 U.S.C. 151.
38

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