- CSDVRS's request for payment of VRS minutes containing incomplete call record data from December 2008 to April 2009, (Letter), CG Docket No. 03-123, DA 10-225, released February 3, 2010.
- In the Matter of Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, (Declaratory Ruling), CG Docket No. 10-51, DA 10-314, adopted and released February 25, 2010.
- FCC Reaffirms Rules and Policies of Video Relay Service, (New Release), CG Docket No. 10-51, released February 25, 2010.
- Purple Communications Acknowledges Debt, Begins Payback to Telecommunications Relay Fund, (News Release), released March 9, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, (Order), DA 10-593, adopted and released April 2, 2010.
- National Exchange Carrier Association Submits the Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate for the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund for the July 2010 through June 2011 Fund Year, (Public Notice), CG Docket No. 03-123, DA 10-761, released April 30, 2010.
- In the Matter of Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, (Declaratory Ruling, Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), CG Docket No. 10-51, FCC 10-88, adopted May 24, 2010 and released May 27, 2010.
- FCC Takes Further Steps to Ensure that Video Relay Service Will Continue as a Vibrant Service, (News Release), released May 27, 2010.
- Sorenson's Request for Payment of Certain VRS Calls Handled on August 7, 2009, (Letter), CG Docket No. 03-123, DA 10-963, released May 27, 2010.
- FCC to Hold Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, July 19, 2010, (News Release), released May 28, 2010.
- Launch of the Commission's Accessibility and Innovation Forum
- Announcement of FCC initiatives concerning disability access
- Technology Expo of emerging communications equipment and services
- Debut of a video documenting first-person testimonials on disability access
- Performances by Gallaudet University students
- Reminder to States and Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service Providers that the Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints is Due Wednesday, July 1, 2010; Reminder of Ongoing Obligation to Report Contact Information and Substantive Changes in TRS Programs, (Public Notice), CG Docket No. 03-123, DA 10-1090, released June 18, 2010.
- In the Matter of Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, (Notice of Inquiry), CG Docket No. 10-51, FCC 10-111, adopted June 8, 2010 and released June 28, 2010.
- In the Matter of Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing Disabilities, (Order), CG Docket No. 03-123, FCC 10-115, adopted June 18, 2010 and released June 28, 2010.
- FCC Takes Action to Protect and Sustain Vital Service for the Deaf; Commission Votes Unanimously on Immediate and Long-Term Approaches, (News Release), released June 28, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers (Order), CG Docket No. 03-123 and WC Docket No. 05-196, DA 10-1235, adopted and released June 30, 2010.
- Comments Sought on Purple Communications, Inc. Petition for Clarification or Waiver to Implement Call Forwarding Service for Internet-Based Telecommunications Relay Service Users, (Public Notice), CG Docket No. 10-51, DA 10-1253, released July 2, 2010.
- Federal Communications Commission Technology Showcase to Mark 20th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act to be Held At Department of Commerce, (News Release), released July 7, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, (Erratum), CG Docket No. 03-123, FCC 10-115, released July 8, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, (Order Denying Stay Motion), CG Docket No. 03-123, DA 10-1287, adopted and released July 9, 2010.
- Federal Communications Commission Kicks Off Year-Long Celebration of 20th Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act with Numerous Activities on July 19; Events to Reflect Them of "Empowering Americans with Disabilities Through Technology" to Include Technology Showcase, ADA Celebration Program, Brainstorming Session, and Launch of Accessibility and Innovations Form, (News Release), released July 15, 2010.
- FCC Kicks Off Anniversary Celebration for Americans with Disabilities Act; Kick-Off Event Brought Together Members of the Disability Community with High-Tech Companies; New Website on Accessibility Launched, (News Release), released July 22, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers, (Order), CG Docket No. 03-123 and WC Docket No. 05-196, DA 10-1445, adopted and released August 4, 2010.
- Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, (Order Denying Request for Extension of Time to File Comments), CG Docket No. 10-51, DA 10-1517, adopted and released August 12, 2010.
- Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers; Internet-Based Telecommunications Relay Service Numbering, (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-196, and WC Docket No. 10-191, FCC 10-161, adopted September 16, 2010, released September 17, 2010.
By this letter, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) grants CSDVRS's request for payment of Video Relay Service (VRS) calls from December 2008 through April 2009 for which CSDVRS's billing platform failed to capture call conversation time. The Bureau therefore direct the National Exchange Carriers Administration (NECA), the Interstate TRS Fund Administrator, to remit payment of [REDACTED] to CSDVRS within 10 business days of the date of this letter.
In the Declaratory Ruling, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) addresses the compensability from the Interstate TRS Fund (Fund) of certain types of calls made through Video Relay Service (VRS), a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). First, the Bureau emphasize that VRS calls made by or to a VRS provider's employee, or the employee of a provider's subcontractor, are not eligible for compensation from the TRS Fund on a per-minute basis from the Fund, but rather as business expenses. Second, the Bureau emphasize that VRS calls placed for the purpose of generating compensable minutes are not, and never have been, compensable from the Fund. Finally, the Bureau emphasize that two categories of calls do not meet the definition of TRS or otherwise are not compensable from the Fund under plain statutory language: (1) VRS Voice Carry Over used to connect two hearing users and (2) VRS calls used to connect two users who are both outside the United States.
Washington, D.C. -- Today, as a step toward comprehensive reform of Video Relay Service (VRS), the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Declaratory Ruling to reaffirm the FCC's rules and policies concerning VRS reimbursement and calling practices, and maximize efficiency and effectiveness of this program to ensure that the communications needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers are met.
Washington, DC-- Purple Communications, a provider of telecommunications relay services, has signed an agreement with the FCC that puts in place the framework for repayment of funds that were inappropriately paid to the company. Under this agreement, Purple "acknowledges that the FCC [has stated that Purple has] a debt amounting to $18,459,064, and has determined not to challenge the FCC's position." Under the agreement, the funds will be repaid to the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA), which administers the government fund that pays for relay services for deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers. In return for this commitment, the FCC will instruct NECA to release payment to Purple for relay services provided in the month of December 2009, and will continue to reimburse for legitimate relay services provided by Purple month by month.
In this Order, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Wireline Competition Bureau (the Bureaus) grant a four-month extension of the waiver regarding treatment of toll free numbers in the Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) numbering directory (iTRS Directory), consistent with the request of the TDI Coalition, consumer groups representing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. This waiver extension will ensure that calls to users of Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay continue to be routed without disruption while the Commission considers general issues regarding the use of toll free numbers for Internet-based TRS (iTRS) services.
75 FR 26701, May 12, 2010 - Proposed rule
On April 30, 2010, pursuant to 47 C.F.R. § 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H), the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), which is the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund Administrator, submitted its annual payment formulas and funding requirement estimates for the Interstate TRS Fund for the period of July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011 (2010-2011 Fund year). The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) seeks comment on NECA's proposed compensation rates for Interstate TRS, Speech-to-Speech Services (STS), Captioned Telephone Services (CTS), Internet Protocol (IP) CTS, IP Relay, and Video Relay Services (VRS), for the 2010-2011 Fund year, as well as on NECA's proposals for the carrier contribution factor and funding requirement.
The Public Notice also seeks to refresh the record on the NPRM portion of the 2009 PN and NPRM, which sought comment on whether VRS tiered rates should be recalculated based on data reflecting the actual costs of providing VRS. In the past, the Commission has relied on projected costs to determine the compensation rate
In the 2010 TRS Rate Filing, NECA presents various alternative calculations for determining an interim VRS rate for the 2010-2011 Fund year. As with the VRS rates established in the 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, NECA proposes sets of tiered rates: Tier I includes monthly minutes up to 50,000; Tier II includes monthly minutes between 50,001 and 500,000; and Tier III includes monthly minutes above 500,000. In one of its proposals, on which the Bureau particularly seeks comment, NECA then calculates the rate within each tier using weighted averages of VRS providers' actual historical cost data for 2009, including allowances of 1.6% for cash working capital, 3.2% for growth to the Fund, and $0.0083 per minute for ongoing E911and ten-digit numbering costs. This calculation results in rates of $5.7754 for Tier I, $6.0318 for Tier II, and $3.8963 for Tier III. The Bureau also particularly seeks comment on whether the Commission should adopt 2010-2011 interim Fund Year rates based on NECA's proposed use of weighted averages in calculating each of the tiers, as described in the 2010 TRS Rate Filing.
NECA also proposes per-minute compensation rates for all other forms of TRS based on the rate calculation methodologies established in the 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order. These calculations result in the following proposed rates: $2.256 for interstate traditional TRS; $3.1566 for STS; $1.6951 for CTS and IP CTS; $1.2985 for IP Relay.
Based on these rates, NECA proposes a carrier contribution factor of between 0.00379 and 0.00908, and a funding requirement of between $280.8 and $673.3 million.
In the Declaratory Ruling, the Commission reiterates that Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund payments may be suspended to providers that do not submit to audits. In the accompanying Order, the Commission adopts an interim rule addressing the certification of provider information for Video Relay Service (VRS). Finally, in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission seeks comment on ways to amend its rules to detect and prevent fraud and misuse in the provision of VRS. Taken together, the Commission's actions today are strong steps towards ensuring that VRS will continue as a vibrant service for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Washington, DC-- As part of its multi-pronged approach to ensuring that viability of the Video Relay Service (VRS), a crucial telecommunications link for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, the Commission today took decisive action to defend this vital program from the waste, fraud, and abuse that has plagued the program and threatens its long-term viability.
The Commission reiterated existing rules and adopted others, and sought comment on a broad array of other possible rule changes to further detect and deter the misuse of VRS and the billing of illegitimate minutes to the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund. The Commission's goal is to eliminate unjustifiable payments to providers at American ratepayers' expense, and to eliminate the provision of service by unqualified providers or service that is not in compliance with the TRS rules.
By this Letter, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) grants Sorenson's request for payment of Video Relay Service calls handled on August 7, 2009 for which technical difficulties prevented Sorenson from capturing certain call data information required by the Commission's rules. As set forth in the Letter, the Bureau directs the National Exchange Carrier Administration (NECA or Administrator), the Interstate TRS Fund Administrator, to remit payment of [REDACTED] to Sorenson at the next regularly monthly disbursement.
Washington, DC-- As part of its continuing effort to develop and implement consumer-focused policies, including disabilities access, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin its year-long celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Monday, July 19, 2010. The event will be held in the afternoon, in the Commission Meeting Room. The event will include the following:
Additional information about the event will be released at a later date. The celebration is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.
To pre-register, please send an E-mail to: Pam.Gregory@fcc.gov, or call (202) 418-2498 voice; (202) 418-1169 TTY.
The Federal Communications Commission's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau reminds states and interstate telecommunications relay services (TRS) providers that they must submit their annual consumer complaint log summaries for the 12-month period ending May 31, 2010, on or before Wednesday, July 1, 2010.
Complaint log summaries should include information pertaining to complaints received between June 1, 2009, and May 31, 2010. The summaries must include, at a minimum, the total number of interstate relay calls by type of TRS (i.e., traditional TRS, speech-to-speech (STS), captioned telephone service (CTS), Internet protocol (IP) CTS, IP Relay, video relay service (VRS)), the number of complaints alleging a violation of the federal TRS mandatory minimum standards, the date of the complaint, the nature of the complaint, the date of its resolution, and an explanation of the resolution.
The Commission also reminds certified state TRS programs, interstate TRS providers, and TRS providers that have state contracts that, pursuant to 47 C.F.R. § 64.604(c)(2), they must submit to the Commission a contact person and/or office for the receipt of inquiries and complaints from consumers about the certified state TRS program's intrastate service or, as appropriate, about the TRS provider's service. The submission must include the name and address of the state or TRS office that receives complaints, grievances, inquiries and suggestions; the voice, TTY, and fax numbers for that office; the email address; and the physical address to which correspondence should be sent.
The Commission must be notified each time there is a change in any of this required information.
Any changes in contact information for certified state TRS programs and/or interstate TRS providers should be sent to TRS_POC@fcc.gov.
The Commission also reminds certified state TRS programs that, pursuant to 47 C.F.R. § 64.606(f)(1), state TRS programs must notify the Commission of any substantive changes in their TRS programs within 60 days of when they occur, and must certify that the state TRS program continues to meet federal minimum standards after implementing the substantive change. Similarly, VRS providers, IP Relay service providers, and IP Captioned Telephone service providers certified under 47 C.F.R. § 64.606(f)(2) must also notify the Commission of any substantive changes in their TRS programs, services, and features within 60 days of when such changes occur, and certify that they continue to meet federal minimum standards after implementing the substantive change. Notices of substantive changes in TRS Programs must reference CG Docket No. 03-123.
In the Notice of Inquiry, the Commission takes a fresh look at its video relay service (VRS) rules so that it can ensure that this vital program is effective, efficient, and sustainable in the future. Video relay service allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with friends and family and to conduct business in near real time. In the proceeding, the Commission seeks to improve the program to ensure that it is available to and used by the full spectrum of eligible users, encourages innovation, and is provided efficiently so as to be less susceptible to the waste, fraud, and abuse that plague the current program and threaten its long-term viability. Our goal is to solicit a wide range of thoughts and proposals for making the program work better for those who could benefit from it and those who pay into it.
The Commission hereby adopts per-minute compensation rates from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund (Fund) for each form of TRS for the 2010-2011 Fund year. These rates are based in part on options proposed by the National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), the Interstate TRS Fund administrator, in filing its annual Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate for the period of July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011. The interim rates for 2010-2011 for Video Relay Service (VRS) shall be: $6.2390 for Tier I, $6.2335 for Tier II, and $5.0668 for Tier III. The rates for the other forms of TRS shall be: $2.256 for interstate traditional TRS; $3.1566 for Speech-to-Speech (STS); $1.6951 for Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) and Internet Protocol (IP) CTS; and $1.2985 for IP Relay.
The interim VRS rates adopted herein represent the average of the current tiered rates and NECA's proposed rates based on actual, historical costs. These rates have been adopted on an interim basis and reflect a balance between the goal of ensuring that VRS providers recover from the Fund only the reasonable costs caused by their provision of VRS and the goal of ensuring quality and sufficient service during a one-year period while we consider reform in this area. The Commission notes that it intends to further examine VRS rates in the near future as part of upcoming proceedings, including the 2010 VRS Notice of Inquiry, and audits.
Washington, DC-- The Federal Communications Commission has taken two actions to protect and ensure the sustainability of a vital service for persons with hearing or speech disabilities. This service, called Video Relay Service (VRS), allows persons with these disabilities to use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with friends and family and to conduct business in near real time. The Commission's two unanimous votes - one to begin a fresh look at the VRS program, and another that sets out how VRS companies will be compensated during the next year while the review is underway - will protect a program that has developed through two decades of work initiated by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
Twenty years ago, the ADA established a fund, under the FCC's oversight, to ensure that persons with hearing or speech disabilities could use special telephone services at costs comparable to those that hearing people pay for regular telephone service. Today, the VRS service supported by that fund has become an essential part of the lives of people who have hearing or speech disabilities.
Recently, the fund that supports VRS has been threatened on two fronts. A number of individuals associated with VRS companies have been indicted for fraud and abuse of the system; they appear to have generated extra revenue from calls that were not legitimate uses of the fund. In addition, recent data has shown that the payments from the Fund to VRS companies were on a higher scale than the FCC intended, because they were based on cost estimates that turned out to be far higher than VRS companies' actual costs.
The Commission has now set interim levels for payments to VRS companies for the year July 2010 through June 2011. The FCC estimates that these new compensation levels, together with steps that have been taken to reduce fraud, will save the fund about $275 million over last year's estimated costs. The FCC has worked with the Department of Justice to identify companies that may have acted fraudulently, and the number of questionable charges has already dropped as a result. The savings from reduced fraud and new payment levels will benefit American ratepayers, who support the fund through charges on their telephone bills.
At the same time, the Commission has released a Notice of Inquiry asking fundamental questions about the ways that the market for VRS should be structured and how companies that provide VRS should be compensated. Together, the Commission's two actions today help put the future of VRS on a solid and sustainable course.
The Commission expects to complete the Notice of Inquiry proceeding before Fund year 2011-12, which begins on July 1, 2011. The Commission also adopted compensation rates for July 2010 through June 2011 for all other forms of TRS paid from the fund.
In the Order, the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureaus) extend the waivers of certain telecommunications relay services (TRS) mandatory minimum standards for Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service that will expire on July 1, 2010, pursuant to the 2009 TRS Waiver Order. Specifically, the Bureaus extend the waivers for one year until July 1, 2011, conditioned upon the filing of a status report due April 16, 2011, of the following requirements: (1) one-line Voice Carry Over (VCO), VCO-to-TTY, and VCO-to-VCO; (2) one-line Hearing Carry Over (HCO), HCO-to-TTY, and HCO-to-HCO; (3) call release; (4) pay-per-call (900) calls; (5) types of calls; (6) equal access to interexchange carrier; and (7) Speech-to-Speech (STS).
In addition, the Bureaus extend the waiver of certain mandatory minimum standards for default Internet-based TRS providers that are unable to meet such standards for newly-registered Internet-based TRS users who port their customer premises equipment (CPE) from a former default provider. Specifically such waiver is needed when the new default provider does not have access to the technical information about the new user's CPE that would be needed to comply with these standards. As discussed below, the Commission issued a year-long waiver of these requirements in its December 2008 Second Internet-based TRS Order, which was extended for six months in the 2009 TRS Order. Similar to the other extensions addressed in the Order, the Bureaus grant this extension until July 1, 2011, or until the Commission addresses pending petitions regarding CPE portability, whichever comes first.
On June 2, 2010, Purple Communications, Inc. (Purple) filed a petition for clarification or waiver of rule 64.613(a), which it states will enable it to implement a call forwarding service for Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS) users.
Rule 64.613(a) states that the Numbering Directory shall contain records that map an iTRS user's telephone number to the user's Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). The Commission established this rule in the First Internet-based TRS Order, as part of a numbering system to assign ten-digit telephone numbers linked to the North American Numbering Plan to individuals with hearing and speech impairments using Internet-based Video Relay Service (VRS) or IP Relay, in order to ensure that these users can be called in the same manner as voice telephone users.
Purple seeks a clarification or a waiver of rule 64.613(a) to implement its "Follow Me" call forwarding feature for point-to-point calls, i.e., calls between individuals with hearing or speech impairments that do not go through a relay service. Purple claims that in order to provide this feature, incoming calls must route to a Purple server, which then would "look up the consumer's call forwarding instructions, and accordingly, redirect such calls to the desired destination." Moreover, Purple would have to populate the iTRS Numbering Directory entry for the user's ten-digit telephone number "only with an URI that contains the IP Address of a Purple server, not the IP Address of the consumer's primary video device." Purple argues that clarification of rule 64.613, or a waiver of the rule, to allow Purple to provide this feature to its users, is appropriate to further functional equivalency by facilitating point-to-point calls and provide a service already available to hearing users.
Interested parties may file comments on the Purple Petition on or before July 16, 2010 and reply comments on or before July 23, 2010. Filings in this proceeding should be captioned "Purple Call Forwarding Petition for Clarification or Waiver" and filed in CG Docket No. 10-51.
Washington, DC-- The FCC's Technology Showcase, previously scheduled for Monday, July 19 at the FCC Headquarters, will now be held on the same date, in the Main Foyer at the Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC. from 11 AM to 3 PM. More than 50 exhibitors have been invited to demonstrate their technologies. As part of the Showcase, there will be a program in the Commerce Department Auditorium that will include welcoming remarks, the launch of the FCC's new Accessibility and Innovation Forum, presentation of an original video chronicling personal histories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities, a performance by Gallaudet University students, and a reception. The Showcase and program will be free and open to the public and press. This event is part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and will highlight technologies developed to empower the daily lives of Americans with disabilities.
The Department of Commerce is at 1401 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC, and can be entered on 14th Street between Pennsylvania Avenue and Constitution Avenue NW. Wheelchair accessibility is via the Aquarium entrance, which is just a few feet from the Main Foyer, also on 14th Street, NW.
On June 28, 2010, the Commission released an Order, FCC 10-115, in the above captioned proceeding. This Erratum corrects the per-minute reimbursement rate of "$2.256" for traditional Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) for the 2010-2011 Fund year that appears in the last sentence of paragraph 1 and paragraph 35 by replacing it with the correct rate of "$2.0256."
Sorenson Communications, Inc. filed a motion seeking a stay of the effect of interim rates for Video Relay Service (VRS) adopted by the Commission in a recent order. Although Sorenson nominally seeks a "stay," it asks not just that the Commission stay they interim rates, but also that the Commission take affirmative steps to re-institute the former VRS rate that expired o June 30, 2010. For the reasons set forth, the Commission denied the request.
Washington, DC- On July 19, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission will be kicking off its year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The day's festivities will begin at 11 AM, with a Technology Showcase which will run until 3 PM at the Commerce Department Main Foyer. More than 50 exhibitors have been invited to demonstrate their accessible technologies. (This program had originally been scheduled to be held at the FCC.)
From 1 PM to 2 PM, an ADA Celebration Program in the Commerce Department Auditorium will include welcoming remarks from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the launch of a new FCC Accessibility and Innovation Forum, presentation of an original video chronicling personal stories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities, performances by Gallaudet University performers, and a reception.
Washington, DC - In a day-long program held July 19, 2010, titled "Empowering Americans with Disabilities Through Technology," the Federal Communications Commission, in conjunction with other government agencies, kicked off a year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The day included a Technology Showcase at which more than 40 exhibitors demonstrated their accessible technologies, a celebration program which included remarks from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, presentation of an original video chronicling personal stories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities, performances by Gallaudet University and other deaf performers, and a brainstorming discussion by technology developers and persons with disabilities to identify and prioritize technology barriers to people with disabilities and explore possible solutions to those barriers.
Among the announcements at the celebration was the launch of the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative which will be a means to promote collaborative problem-solving among a wide variety of stakeholders, including the disability community, industry, academics, government representatives, third-party developers, innovators, students, and assistive technology vendors. It will have its own website that will include a problem-solving commons - a place where everyone with an interest in communications access can meet to share creative ideas. It is at http://www.broadband.gov/accessibilityandinnovation.
The FCC also announced the "Chairman's AAA Awards," -- Awards for Advancements in Accessibility. The first of these awards will be given out on the next anniversary of the ADA to recognize efforts in the private and public sector -- as well as public-private partnerships -- that advance accessibility.
In addition to the Technology Showcase and Celebration, the Commission is also moving forward on implementation of a number of recommendations of the National Broadband Plan and other related accessibility items, including release on July 19 of a Public Notice seeking public input on specific features needed to make wireless devices - including smart phones -accessible to people who are blind or have low vision, including those who are both deaf and blind. In October, the FCC will also be working with the Coleman Institute and Silicon Flatirons to launch a special challenge on cloud-computing solutions for accessibility by people with disabilities.
In the Order, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Wireline Competition Bureau (the Bureaus) grant a six-month extension of the waiver regarding treatment of toll free numbers in the Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS) numbering directory (iTRS Directory), in response to the TDI Coalition's request for a further extension. The waiver extension will ensure that calls to users of Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay continue to be routed without disruption while the Commission further considers issues regarding the use of toll free numbers for iTRS services.
On June 28, 2010, the Commission released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the above captioned matter seeking comments on issues concerning video relay service. Comments are due on August 18, 2010; reply comments are due on September 2, 2010. On July 26, 2010, CSDVRS, LLC, Convo Communications, LLC, Purple Communications, Inc. and Snap Telecommunications, Inc. (Petitioners) filed a motion to extend the comment period to ninety days after publication in the Federal Register and to extend the reply comment period to forty-five days after the comments are due.
It is the policy of the Commission that extensions of time shall not be routinely granted. The Commission finds that Petitioners have not stated sufficient grounds for departure from Commission policy. The Commission points out that the Commission released the NOI three weeks before publication in the Federal Register, effectively adding that period to the time within which parties could prepare their comments. In addition, because this is a Notice of Inquiry, parties will have an additional comment cycle after release of a notice of proposed rulemaking that will enable more focused discussion.
In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission seeks comment on steps it should take to improve assignment of telephone numbers associated with Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS), specifically, Video Relay Service (VRS) and IP Relay. The Commission also seeks to encourage use of geographically appropriate local numbers, and ensure that the deaf and hard-of-hearing community has access to toll free telephone numbers that is equivalent to access enjoyed by the hearing community.