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August 4, 2011

Important news information about your toll-free number

On Aug. 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules to improve assignment of telephone numbers for use of Internet-based relay services (iTRS), including Video Relay Service (VRS).   In this Report and Order, the Commission aims to promote the use of geographically-appropriate local numbers and to ensure that the deaf and hard-of-hearing community has access to toll-free telephone numbers that is equivalent to access enjoyed by the hearing community.

For the Report and Order, please see:

What this means is that if you were given a toll-free (i.e.800, 877, 866, etc.) number by your VRS provider, you will have about a year to do the following:

  1. You can keep the toll-free number if you wish, but it will be handled by a private company that will charge you a monthly fee. Or
  2. You can give up your toll-free number and use the 10-digit number you have as your permanent number.

If you choose to give up your toll-free number you will need to contact your family, friends, physicians, dentists, etc. and inform them that you are now using your 10-digit number exclusively. Let them know that you will not be using your toll-free number anymore.

FYI . . . All hearing people use a 10-digit number for their phone number. Those with toll-free numbers are usually businesses or companies that provide toll-free numbers for people to call them. Individuals usually do not have toll-free numbers; this means that we have the same phone service as the hearing community. This new ruling makes the use of ten-digit numbers functionally equivalent to the hearing community.

To read the order in its entirely, click here.

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