With the release of this Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  the FCC has raised the standards for providers of Speech-to-Speech (STS) Relay Service in order to improve the experience for persons with a speech disability who need the service in order to make telephone calls using their own voice or an assistive voice device. Improvements of "Speech-to-Speech" relay service in the Order will increase user satisfaction while the Further Notice explores changes to improve efficiency of service.
Speech-to-speech uses specially trained operators - Communications Assistants, or "CAs" - to relay the conversation back and forth between the individual with the speech disability and the other party to the call. Communications Assistants are trained to understand a variety of speech disorders, which enables them to repeat what the caller says in a manner that makes the caller's words clear and understandable to the called party.
The order amends certain mandatory minimum standards to improve Speech-to-Speech TRS, including: increasing the time a CA must stay with a call, a muting option and dialing 711 to initiate STS calls. The new requirements will go into effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.
In addition to the order, the FCC issued a further notice of proposed rulemaking, seeking comments on: