Latest VRS News
May 12, 2010

Future of Video Relay Service in Jeopardy

On April 30, 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent out a Public Notice about the new compensation formula to calculate the rate for Video Relay Service (VRS) providers. If this new rate is adopted, most VRS providers would lose money when handling VRS calls and some may go out of business.

FUTURE OF VIDEO RELAY
SERVICE IN JEOPARDY
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What Does This Mean to You?

The FCC needs to prepare for the future of VRS and consider the costs inherent in future technological improvements to provide the best VRS available - this includes funding for research and development. Only through continued funding can VRS providers meet the mandate of functional equivalency required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

We must act. Technological advancements for hearing individuals continue daily. Deaf individuals have a right to the same level of technological advancement. The FCC has a responsibility to ensure that VRS continues to provide Deaf individuals with the best communication access available. We, the Deaf community, will hold the FCC accountable if VRS progress and services become stagnant or limited.

Many individuals in the Deaf community, as well as several VRS providers, are unhappy with the proposed VRS compensation rates noted in the FCC's recent Public Notice. There are also some individuals who have made vlog comments regarding the proposed rate, stating that it is sufficient. It is important to note that the FCC does not include all of the business expenses incurred by VRS companies in its proposal. Drastic cuts to the rate will have a huge impact on the VRS industry if adopted. Many VRS providers would be forced to cut the quality of services they provide, reduce their service offerings or go out of business. The FCC's proposed rates are not reasonable or logical.

We want the FCC to know that VRS is a very vital part of Deaf communication. It is also important to note that half of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people who use ASL to communicate still do not have VRS access. This means we have a long way to go to reach functional equivalency!

We Must Join Together to Let the FCC Know the Importance of VRS

The FCC must set a fair and equitable rate to encourage VRS providers to fund:

  • Improved quality of VRS and better training of VRS interpreters
  • Continued research and development for improved Video Phone technology
  • Maintain outreach program to inform and educate Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Hearing consumers about VRS

What You Can do Now:

The VRSCA encourages you to file your comments with the FCC before the May 21 deadline. You can use the sample petition letter below, or write your own letter to the FCC. Time is short. Send your comments to the FCC now. Your support is needed to empower all VRS providers to continue to provide the best services possible to the Deaf community.

  • Send an email to the FCC

    Use the suggested letter or write your own.

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    I understand that the information I provide will be sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and will be available for viewing by the general public.


    THANK YOU!

    Thank you for letting the FCC know how you feel about VRS. Your involvement is important and could help the deaf community keep VRS technology. We need everyone who uses VRS, both deaf and hearing, to contact the FCC today. Click below to spread the word to your friends and family.

    SEND TO A FRIEND

    Tell your friends to take action. Fill out the form below to have an email sent to them explaining what is happening with VRS and how they can help.

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  • Forward This Information to a Friend

    Click here to help spread the word and forward to a friend. Simply type a short message and send them a link to this Web page.

  • Go to the FCC Website

    To submit comments on the FCC website, follow these steps:

    Step 1.
    Go to http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/begin?procName=03-123&filedFrom=X

    Step 2.
    Complete the form with your personal information (all fields with an asterisk are required).

    Step 3.
    Enter your comments. (You can type them in Word first and then cut and paste the comment.)

    Step 4.
    Select the "Continue" button.

    Step 5.
    You will be presented with a confirmation page to review your comment before submitting comment. Select the "Confirm" button and your comment will be submitted.

    Some Things You May Want to Consider Including Are:

    The rates for VRS proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its April 30 Public Notice could put some VRS in jeopardy because:

    • The rates are so low that it could minimize VRS service as we know it today. No provider would seek to provide VRS at the low rates proposed by the FCC.
    • A better option would be a multi-year VRS rate, which would allow VRS providers to continue to invest in their offerings for the deaf.
    • VRS and the improvements made to it over the years have moved us closer to the goal of "function equivalence" mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The FCC rate proposal would destroy that progress and move us further from achieving the goals of the ADA.
    • Some providers could minimize offering their service or close their doors, leaving their deaf customers without the vital VRS service they have come to expect.

Get Involved

Would you like to have a town hall presentation in your area? Contact your Region Manager.

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