On September 30, 2022, the FCC released a Fourth Report and Order and Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to improve access to communications for incarcerated people with disabilities.
The Fourth Report and Order:
- Requires providers to provide access to all relay services eligible for Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund support, as well as American Sign Language (ASL) point-to-point video communication, in any correctional facility where broadband is available, in a jurisdiction with an average daily population of 50 or more incarcerated persons;
- Clarifies and expands the scope of the restrictions on inmate calling services providers assessing charges for TRS calls;
- Expands the scope of the required inmate calling services providers’ Annual Reports to reflect the above changes; and
- Modifies TRS user registration requirements to facilitate the use of TRS by eligible incarcerated persons.
The Sixth Further Notice seeks comment on:
- Whether to allow enterprise registration for Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) in correctional facilities;
- Whether to adopt the FCC’s proposal to extend inmate calling services providers’ TRS-related access obligations to include VRS, IP Relay, and IP CTS as well as ASL point-to-point video calling, where broadband is available, and CTS where broadband is not available, with average daily populations of fewer than 50 incarcerated persons; and
- Whether charges for any inmate calling services for incarcerated people with disabilities should be disclosed in accessible formats.
Comments will be due 30 days, and replies will be due 60 days, after the proposed rules’ summary is published in the Federal Register. We will release a separate AccessInfo with the due dates after such publication. Interested parties may file comments by accessing the Electronic Comment Filing System at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings. All filings must reference WC Docket No. 12-375. People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments online may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov.
Fourth Report and Order and Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:
For general information about TRS, visit www.fcc.gov/trs. For specific questions, contact Michael Scott, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at (202) 418-1264 or Michael.Scott@fcc.gov. Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in ASL may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).