Since the age of 12, when I learned the alphabet in sign language, I knew working with the deaf and hard of hearing community was where I wanted to be. This community hit even closer to home when my mother lost her hearing completely in one ear due to a hereditary hearing loss. I have had the privilege of being a sign language interpreter for 15 years as well as working for a company that provides captioning telephone services for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Currently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who governs and funds the services of communication for this community, is proposing new regulations that will severely impact their primary means of communication with family, friends, and loved ones. Furthermore, these proposed regulations will negatively impact their daily activities of communication, a right granted to all through the Constitution. If the proposals being considered by the FCC are enacted, the vast majority of hard-of-hearing customers will lose the ability to receive captioning for their telephone calls. These proposals are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the functional equivalency portion of the Act that the FCC is required to provide.
You should be aware that the FCC is proposing additional difficult regulations for Captioned Telephone Services customers, and any individuals who have not yet discovered IP CTS. As someone with a vested interest in the deaf and hard of hearing community, I am asking for your help to protect this valuable service.
By signing this petition, you agree that the proposed regulations are not in the best interest of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Below is a brief summary of the current FCC proposals:
Please express your concern regarding three new FCC proposed regulations regarding Captioned Telephone Service that are not in the best interest of people with hearing loss:
First, the FCC would like to prevent anyone from receiving a captioning telephone for free. History has shown that the deaf and hard of hearing community has never had to pay for the phone that provides them with the functional equivalency of communication. Instead, everyone would be required to pay a minimum of $75 to receive a captioning telephone and participate in this service. IP CTS customers are already required to pay for long distance telephone services and broadband Internet access in order to use the captioning service, as well as for any non-captioning phones they already have. As the community for Captioning Services, on average, is elderly and living on a fixed income, the $75 fee will be an additional tax and burden, especially because you cannot use captioning without a special phone. It will definitely be a barrier for many who need it to participate in this valuable service.
Secondly, the FCC is still requiring captions to be set to the “OFF” position at the beginning of each call, even when a hard-of-hearing consumer lives alone or only with other hard-of-hearing people. This means that any time they want to communicate on the phone, specifically made for captioning, they have to push a button to turn the captioning on. This additional step, that is not required of hearing individuals when using a phone, is directly in violation of the ADA. It is an extra step that can prevent the captioning, they rely on, to be delayed or not work at all if they forget or are unable to push the button. This could be detrimental as they communicate to family, friends or authorities in an emergency situation. Individuals who use this service should be able to pick up their phone and use as designed. Therefore, the captioning should be set to default “ON”.
Lastly, the FCC would also require any CaptionCall customers who have already received a CaptionCall phone at no cost, to provide certification of hearing loss from a hearing care professional or other medical professional in order to continue using it. This will confuse, frustrate, and alienate many seniors who are enjoying captioned telephone service today.