On June 30, 2022, the FCC released a multi-part document concerning Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS). In a Report and Order, the FCC amended its rules to allow VRS and IP CTS consumers who are registering for service for the first time, or changing their service provider, to begin using the service without delay for up to two weeks, pending completion of the user registration process.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC proposes to modify or eliminate several VRS rules to:
- Increase from 50% to 80% the portion of monthly VRS minutes that may be handled by communications assistants (CAs) working from home;
- Eliminate or modify the requirement that to work at home, a VRS CA must have at least three years of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting experience;
- Allow VRS providers to use contract CAs for up to 30% of their monthly call minutes; and,
- Allow Interstate TRS Fund compensation of calls placed by registered VRS users to the United States from outside the country, for up to one year after leaving the country, as long as the users notify their provider of such travel at any time prior to the first such call.
In the Order, the FCC temporarily waived certain rules for up to one year pending the outcome of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. These include:
- The current 50% cap on at-home call minutes;
- The three-year experience requirement for at-home CAs; and,
- The prohibition on contracting for VRS CAs.
Finally, in a Declaratory Ruling, the FCC increases—from four weeks to one year—the maximum period of time for which the TRS Fund will support a registered VRS user’s calls to the United States from abroad.
Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order, and Declaratory Ruling:
General information about VRS is available at www.fcc.gov/vrs and for IP CTS at www.fcc.gov/ipcts. For further information, please contact William Wallace, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at (202) 418-2716, or William.Wallace@fcc.gov. Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).