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On Thursday, February 25, 2010, the FCC sent out a release reaffirming Rules and Policies of Video Relay Service The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Declaratory Ruling to reaffirm FCC's rules and policies for VRS reimbursement.
Here is the statement from FCC:
“Washington, D.C. -- Today, as a step toward comprehensive reform of Video Relay Service (VRS), the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Declaratory Ruling to reaffirm the FCC’s rules and policies concerning VRS reimbursement and calling practices, and maximize efficiency and effectiveness of this program to ensure that the communications needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers are met.
Bureau Chief Joel Gurin said: “Today’s action is a first step in fixing a system that is broken. It is essential to keep VRS on a sound footing. Consumers who are deaf or hard of hearing have come to rely on VRS as a service that lets them communicate easily, fluently, and expressively. The Telecommunications Relay Service Fund was established to support exactly that kind of communication. But the Fund can’t be used to support practices that are designed only to increase payments to VRS providers, rather than providing a necessary service for people who need it. We’re taking a strong first step today to stop these practices and ensure that the Fund is always used to benefit the deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers it was designed to help.”
VRS is a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) that enables deaf and hard-ofhearing persons who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text. Video equipment links the VRS user with an operator who understands ASL and can serve as an intermediary between a person using ASL and a hearing person using his or her voice. Because the conversation between the VRS user and the operator flows much more quickly than with a text-based TRS call, VRS has become an enormously popular form of TRS.
Today’s action emphasized that VRS calls made or arranged to generate per-minute fees for the providers are not and have never been compensable from the TRS Fund, which funds all forms of relay service. This includes a number of calls initiated by or on behalf of VRS providers, including calls made to podcasts or recorded messages.
In the Declaratory Ruling, the Bureau addressed three specific reimbursement and calling practices. Specifically, the Bureau emphasized that:
Action by the Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, February 25, 2010 by Declaratory Ruling (DA 10-314).”