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AZ-NM Rural Tour

The FCC's Rural Tour program is designed to engage consumers, grassroots community leaders, and local officials in a series of informative public-facing events. Tours also provide a chance to build outreach and education partnerships with local community-focused institutions. The FCC's team provides awareness and education sessions on issues such as robocalls and spoofing; communicating during emergencies; mobile device security; and other consumer communications topics.

AZ NM Road Team
Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, Lyle Ishida, and Alma Hughes pack consumer tip cards. Seven boxes were sent for this trip.
AZ NM Rural Tour Team at Sunday Dinner
Pictured left to right NaShid Dickerson- Department of Veterans Affairs, Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa – FCC, Alma Hughes - FCC

Preparing for a Rural Tour

The preparation time for a tour runs between 60 and 90 days, with much of that effort focused on coordination with local contacts on the ground in the areas we plan to visit. The planning team also coordinates with other federal agencies and internal offices of the FCC to develop opportunities to discuss important consumer matters. During this tour, leadership and staff of the FCC's Disability Rights Office will brief local Arizona leaders and participate via video conference call in a public-facing New Mexico event on accessibility matters.

As the date of our tour draws near, staff of the FCC's Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division finalize the agenda, print and ship materials for distribution at events, and make final travel arrangements.

While on tour, we invite comments and opportunities to engage with community leaders for unscheduled meetings and engagements. We welcome local consumers to please join us at any public-facing event.

Sunday night dinner on the Rural Tour. Every meal is a working meal, where Rural Tour team members coordinate details for upcoming events. On this tour, a Department of Veterans Affairs representative will join the FCC for a number of public events. The VA and FCC have an established, cooperative outreach partnership.

Oro Valley Event
The FCC's Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa briefs an overflow crowd at the Oro Valley library on FCC consumer-related matters issues on January 28, 2020.
NaShid Dickerson, Department of Veterans Affairs
NaShid Dickerson of the Department of Veteran Affairs discusses VA benefits with a consumer at a public forum hosted by the Benson (AZ) Public Library.

Jan. 27-28, 2020: Accessibility Matters

The first two days of the tour in Arizona and New Mexico have demonstrated the FCC's commitment to making communications accessible.

On Monday, Jan. 27, FCC team members facilitated a video conference between the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Phoenix and the FCC's Disability Rights Office in Washington. The DRO team is responsible for FCC policy work to ensure telecommunications and media are accessible to Americans with hearing and vision disabilities. Working with state and local officials focused on improving accessibility informs and strengthens FCC efforts. We look forward to building on the relationships forged this week.

At the meeting, the FCC provided helpful consumer tips in braille and large print, which consumers may request at any time through our website or toll-free or ASL numbers.

Also in Phoenix on Monday, Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, Associate Chief of the FCC's Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division, led a partnership development meeting with the Economic Development Team of Chicanos por la Causa and delivered a consumer education and outreach presentation at Casa de Primavera Senior Center in English and Spanish. As a fluent Spanish speaker, Keyla highlighted the FCC's consumer education translations program, which provides consumer-facing materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, and other languages as needed.

The FCC team also met with the General Manager of Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. one of eight Tribally owned and operated telecommunications companies in the nation. We discussed working together to build awareness and educate Tribal members across the Gila River Indian Community about robocalls, spoofing, and telephone fraud. We thank the Gila River Indian Community for its hospitality and look forward to continued collaboration through the FCC's Office of Native Affairs and Policy.

Accessibility matters to the FCC in its outreach – for people with disabilities, those who speak other languages, and members of a Native Nation – we seek to ensure that all consumers benefit from our efforts.

Finally, the Department of Veteran Affairs – a close outreach partner with the FCC – joined the Rural Tour, with the VA's NaShid Dickerson providing important benefits information to local veterans and their families. We invite consumers who are joining us in future events to bring their questions or requests for VA assistance to NaShid.

A full house awaits the start of the FCC's consumer presentation Thursday at the Deming-Luna County Senior Citizens Center, in Deming, NM.
A full house awaits the start of the FCC's consumer presentation Thursday at the Deming-Luna County Senior Citizens Center, in Deming, NM.
FCC Consumer Outreach Specialist Alma Hughes prepares to drop off consumer tip cards at the public library in Truth or Consequences, NM on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
FCC Consumer Outreach Specialist Alma Hughes prepares to drop off consumer tip cards at the public library in Truth or Consequences, NM on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.

Jan. 29-30, 2020: Community Matters

The FCC's Rural Tour though Arizona and New Mexico continued through southern Arizona and New Mexico on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 29-30, 2020, with a busy slate of meetings with  local officials and community leaders.

Meetings in Bisbee, AZ and Wilcox, AZ were well-attended by consumers who had a wide range of questions and opinions on topics such as robocalls, spoofing, and phone scams; bill cramming; and the FCC's ongoing efforts to spur broadband development in rural areas.

The Rural Tour events also gave FCC staff an opportunity to listen. Local officials, community leaders, and telecom providers shared background on the state of broadband deployment and volunteered to form local groups to work with the FCC on consumer awareness campaigns.

Consumers at a public forum on Thursday in Deming, NM asked a number of questions about the ongoing broadcast television transition. Meanwhile, a meeting with the Luna County Health Council resulted in exciting opportunities to work with council members representing grassroots entities that assist seniors and members of the local disability community.

Throughout our travels, we've been struck by the dedication of local leaders who support their communities – particularly those impacted by robocall scams. Local government officials, business leaders, community-serving telecoms, social workers and others share a common mission working to educate consumers in their communities about scams to avoid becoming victims.

At one of the tour stops, community leaders shared how they work together to raise consumer awareness and prevent phone scams targeting seniors:

  • The mayor explained how he protects his aging mother's finances, sharing a personal story to help educate community members.
  • Representatives of a local credit union relayed how tellers are trained to detect when large cash withdrawals, by seniors or others, may be tied to consumer fraud.
  • The sheriff pledged to have officers intervene to counsel seniors when possible scam-related activity is flagged for them.

The community's commitment to cooperative deterrence tactics and harmonized education is a model to emulate.

Suzy Rosen Singleton, Chief of the FCC’s Disability Rights Office, video-conferenced into a Rural Tour presentation for the New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Albuquerque on Friday, Jan. 30.
Suzy Rosen Singleton, Chief of the FCC’s Disability Rights Office, video-conferenced into a Rural Tour presentation for the New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Albuquerque on Friday, Jan. 30.
FCC Consumer Outreach Specialist Alma Hughes answers questions from an attendee after a HELP New Mexico consumer education event in Albuquerque on Friday.
FCC Consumer Outreach Specialist Alma Hughes answers questions from an attendee after a HELP New Mexico consumer education event in Albuquerque on Friday.

 

Jan. 31, 2020: A Strong Finish Is Only the Beginning

The FCC Rural Tour through Arizona and New Mexico finished Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, with a public presentation at the Socorro Senior Center. Local residents were enthusiastic about preventing robocall-related fraud from succeeding in their community.

Friday also included a public forum with the New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the FCC's Disability Rights Office via video-link from Washington. DRO is the Commission's lead group for developing policies to ensure telecommunications and media are accessible to the nation's disability community.

Finally, a public presentation at HELP New Mexico gave the FCC team an opportunity to build an important outreach relationship with a locally trusted partner, and that is one of the most important and lasting benefits of the FCC Rural Tour.

In our travels throughout this trip we have established many new outreach relationships that will, ultimately, provide opportunities to reach people at the community and neighborhood level with important consumer information.

Our sincere thanks to all the local officials, community leaders, and consumers with whom we interacted last week. We returned to Washington with a lot of follow-on work to do and look forward to getting started.

Here are just a few highlights from our week on the road:    

  • Seeing the commitment of a Tribal telecommunications official who talked about preventing fraud and creating a better world for the Tribe's members.
  • Experiencing the kindness of the many people who have attended our public forums and presentations. (And thanks, Miss Evelyn, for noticing that Lyle was looking a little tired and sharing a cool, crisp apple with him).
  • Meeting diverse groups of people in small town forums, where everyone, regardless of what their day job was, asked, "What can I do to help my community?"
  • Appreciating the dedication of a rural telecom whose service and roots in the community not only includes keeping people connected, but also means sponsoring the town's little league uniforms.

We will soon be announcing our next rural tour. If you have any questions, suggests, or other feedback, please email outreach@fcc.gov.

It's been an honor to serve on the FCC Rural Tour team. Thanks for following us during our travels. Until next time,

-Alma, Keyla, and Lyle

See itineraries for the FCC’s rural tours:

 

 

   

 

 

Updated:
Friday, April 8, 2022