[Video description can be found below. If you use a screen reader and need to access the caption file transcript, go to “More…” and click on “Transcript”]
NAD Public Policy Counsel Zainab Alkebsi explains two recent significant decisions from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — one about TTY compatibility and the other about prison communications.
Video description and transcript:
Video fades to a gradient background with dark blue to light blue, a grey National Association of the Deaf (NAD) logo is centered. Video fades to NAD Public Policy Counsel Zainab Alkebsi, in the NAD Headquarters lobby. A small white NAD logo appears on the bottom right.
ZAINAB: The FCC recently announced two important decisions: one on TTY compatibility and the other about prison communications. On the first item, the FCC has long had rules requiring TTY compatibility on all voice telephone services to make it possible to call 911 during an emergency. But new technology, such as telephones that use Wi-Fi or Internet based networks, is not compatible with TTYs. AT&T realized this problem and requested from the FCC a temporary waiver to work on improving Wi-FI telephone services to work with TTYs.
The FCC began a public notice and comment proceeding, which gave our community a chance to give feedback. NAD, along with other advocacy organizations, filed comments on this important issue. We supported the waiver but asked for rules that will protect consumers, such as informing customers that TTY calls to 911will not be supported over Internet based wireless services. The FCC agreed that this public information campaign is very important for our public safety.
Other telephone service carriers decided not to request a waiver of TTY rules from the FCC and moved forward with launching Wi-Fi calling services. We believe it is a safety risk to proceed without a formal waiver process and a consumer education campaign. All customers-regardless of which telephone service they use-deserve to be informed of changes that impact their ability to make TTY calls, especially in times of emergency to 911. We encourage the FCC to apply their rules to all telephone service carriers.
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On the second item, the FCC recently released new regulations governing prison telephone calls. These rules include how deaf prisoners are able to make calls and how much they are charged for those calls. The new rules require: 1) prison telephone services cannot charge too much to any inmate, 2) deaf and hard of hearing inmates should be able to use free relay services (they had to pay for it before!), 3) for calls between TTY and TTY, the cost for those calls must be reduced, and 4) the FCC reminds prisons and jails to make all relay services available to deaf and hard of hearing inmates. The NAD advocated for these rules, but the leader of this effort was Helping to Educate and Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD) which advocates for deaf and hard of hearing prisoners. Thank you, HEARD, for your leadership and advocacy!
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