My brother is deaf and has been since he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis when he was 1 1/2 years old. Now at age 34, he is able to take advantage of the wonderful technologies that allow him to communicate with family and friends far easier than ever before.
One of these technologies is the iPhone's FaceTime app which Apple just announced will be available to all iPhone users on the mobile network -- instead of just on Wifi. However, when I heard that AT&T is forcing him and millions of other deaf individuals to pay for an expensive unlimited voice plan (which they will never utilize) just to use the FaceTime app, I was outraged!
The benefits of FaceTime for my brother and other members of the deaf community cannot be overstated. FaceTime allows the use of video chat on the go. In emergency situations where texting isn't an option or there's no Wifi available, mobile FaceTime could be a lifesaver. By forcing their deaf and hard-of-hearing customers to purchase an expensive plan they don't need, AT&T is basically charging customers for being disabled.
Moreover, the Net Neutrality rules of the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) prohibit mobile operators like AT&T from blocking applications that compete with their voice and video telephony services. AT&T's blocking of FaceTime does exactly that.
Please join me in telling AT&T to stop discriminating against the deaf community by making them pay for a service they will never use. This is not about abusing the system, but keeping a fundamental right to be able to communicate with each other at anytime, anywhere.
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