Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS)

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Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS)

According to the FCC, Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) is a telephone service that allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls. TRS is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories for local and/or long distance calls. TRS providers – generally telephone companies – are compensated for the costs of providing TRS from either a state or a federal fund. There is no cost to the TRS user.

To learn more about TRS, visit the FCC’s website: www.fcc.gov



Equal Rights Center Uncovers Discrimination Against TRS Users

Aug 27 2012

The Equal Rights Center recently published the report titled, Disconnected: Housing Discrimination Against the Deaf & Hard of Hearing.

The report’s Executive Summary:
In the United States, more than nine million individuals identify as Deaf or hard of hearing, and approximately 2.1 million individuals identify as having a speech impairment. Many of these individuals rely on a Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) to communicate by telephone. TRS is a term that encompasses a variety of technologies that facilitate telephone conversations for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities, including internet, video, and sign language systems. For many such individuals, TRS is a lifeline to government services, medical care, employment, and housing. TRS is a particularly useful tool when seeking rental housing, in that many prospective tenants contact housing providers by telephone to obtain critical threshold information about apartment availability, rental rates, and the application process.

FCC Issues Report and Order to Curb IP Relay Fraud

Jul 3 2012

In their Report and Order released June 29, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that prohibit the temporary authorization of IP Relay users, other than emergency callers. All new users must have a verified registration and eligibility information on file before a service provider may issue a 10-digit number providing access to IP Relay.

HLAA Calls on States to Ensure Integrity of Relay Services Funds

May 17 2011

Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is concerned about an alarming trend among state legislatures. Some states are redirecting money collected for the state telecommunications relay services (TRS or Relay Services) fund for purposes other than supporting Relay Services. These funds are collected via a surcharge on the phone bills of state residents. The stated purpose for that surcharge is to support captioned telephone services, Voice Carry Over, TTY and Hearing Carry-Over services provided by the state Relay Service. (Internet-Protocol (IP) Relay and Video Relay Services (VRS) are not covered under this fund.)

FCC Moves Forward with Comprehensive Reforms to Eliminate Abuses and Ensure Viability of Video Relay Service

Apr 18 2011

Washington, D.C. – As part of its ongoing efforts to ensure that the video relay service (VRS) continues to provide a crucial telecommunications link for people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, the Commission today adopted rules designed to eliminate the waste, fraud and abuse that has plagued the VRS program and had threatened its ability to continue serving Americans who use it and its long-term viability.

FCC Acts to Ensure that Deaf-Blind Individuals Have Access to 21st Century Communications Technologies

Apr 18 2011

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Commission established a National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to enable low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st Century communications services. The pilot program will help ensure that qualified individuals have access to the Internet, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services.

Captioned Telephone Update

Apr 2 2010

Captioned phones are not available to everyone who needs that service. HLAA recently heard from consumers in Delaware who were distressed that they live in the last state to adopt captioned phone services.

Read more on the Public Policy and Advocacy blog

FBI Arrests 26 in Nationwide Scheme to Defraud VRS Program

Nov 23 2009

Indictments were unsealed today against 26 people charged with engaging in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Video Relay Service (VRS) program, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Joseph Persichini Jr., Deputy Chief Postal Inspector Zane Hill, and FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus.

Consumer Advocates Urge Federal Mandate for Captioned Telephone Services

Nov 13 2009

Led by Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), representatives of consumer organizations joined together to support a federal mandate of captioned telephone services. Joining HLAA at the meeting were American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), Telecommunications for the Deaf and hard of Hearing (TDI), and via phone, California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH). We met with an FCC representative in FCC Chairman Genachowski's office on November 5.

HLAA Position Statement on Captioned Telephones in California

Oct 27 2009

Hearing Loss Association of America recently learned that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) included a provision in its Request for Proposals (RFP) for Captioned Telephone Services (CTS) that would require the CTS Caller Assistant (CA) to inform all of the parties on any CTS relay call (that originates from or terminates in California) of the presence of the CTS CA on the call. This requirement is alleged to assure compliance with California state law that prohibits monitoring, recording, or transcribing of telephone conversations unless all parties to the conversation give their express prior consent or have received notice that such monitoring, recording or transcribing is occurring.

IP Relay and 10-digit Numbering

Oct 2 2009

On September 25, the FCC held a workshop to talk about the need for consumers to get 10 digit numbers for their Video Relay Service (VRS) and their IP (Internet) Relay. At the meeting it became clear that many consumers are registering for VRS, but others who are using IP Relay have NOT registered for 10 digit phone numbers for IP.

Do you use IP Relay? If you do, be sure to register with your provider (Sprint, Hamilton, etc) to be sure you can still use IP smoothly after November 12, 2009.

From the FCC:

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