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.
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
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.
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.
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:
Hearing Loss Association of America along with 11 other organizations recently filed a supplement to our 2005 petition requesting the FCC mandate captioned telephones. Captioned phones, such as CapTel, provide people with hearing loss who can use their voice an opportunity to enjoy the use of telephone services in a way that is very nearly the same as those with no hearing loss. We would like to see many consumers add their comments to the proceedings. Watch the HLAA home page for an upcoming action alert on how to file comments in support of mandating captioned telephone services. Or contact the Advocacy Department directly to see what you can do to make captioned telephone service a reality in all 50 states!
“Beginning on December 31, 2008, persons with hearing and/or speech disabilities who use Video Relay Service (VRS) or Internet Protocol Relay (IP Relay) – two forms of Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) – will be able to obtain ten digit telephone numbers from their VRS or IP Relay provider. These are the ten-digit telephone numbers used by voice telephone users.