This is very important bill as it will help to prevent cuts to the TAP program from the budgets being made to the general funds in the state of Virginia. It is important to contact your Senator now to support this. This does not involve any more money. With people with hearing loss not being able to afford hearing aids at least they will have access to the phone lines in the state of Virginia with 615,000. They will be able to get the equipment which is so needed to use the phone.
This will help Outreach throughout the state to continue to deliver and serve people of Virginia with important equipment for use on the phone and contacting 911. Most important understanding their family and health care providers.
SENATE BILL NO. 316
Offered January 13, 2010
Prefiled January 12, 2010
A BILL to amend and reenact § 51.5-115 of the Code of Virginia, relating to telecommunications relay service; funding.
Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. That § 51.5-115 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:
§ 51.5-115. Telecommunications relay service; standards; funding.
A. As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise, the term:
“End-user equipment” means any communications device that enables or assists a person with a disability to communicate with others through the public-switched telephone network or internet protocol-enabled communication services.
“Operation” means those functions reasonably and directly necessary for the provision of telecommunications relay service, including contract procurement and administration and public education and information regarding telecommunications relay service.
“Telecommunications relay service” means a facility whereby a person who has a hearing or speech disability using a text telephone and a person using a conventional telephone device can communicate with each other via telephone.
“VITA” means the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.
“Voice carry over” means technology that will enable a deaf or hard-of-hearing person with good speech to use his voice, instead of the text telephone, to communicate back to the hearing person.
B. The Department, with the assistance of VITA, shall be responsible for the provision and operation of telecommunications relay service for all text telephones within the Commonwealth. Telecommunications relay service shall include at a minimum:
1. Twenty-four-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week statewide access with no limitations or restrictions that are not applicable to voice users of the telephone network;
2. An answer rate that ensures that at least 85% of the incoming calls are operator-answered within 20 seconds and at least 99% of incoming calls are answered within 60 seconds;
3. Technological advances, including the capability of voice carryover; and
4. Adequate facilities and personnel to ensure that calls are interpreted accurately; notwithstanding this provision, unless miscommunication on a call is caused by the willful misconduct of the telecommunications relay service provider, liability of the telecommunications relay service provider shall be limited to the charges imposed on users for the call.
C. All costs associated with the establishment and operation of the telecommunications relay service, including but not limited to the costs associated with the purchase and distribution of end-user equipment and personnel costs incurred by the Department for administering the service, shall be funded through a distribution made to the Department in accordance with the provisions of § 58.1-662 and any money transferred from the Department as provided for in subsection D. Such distributions, when appropriate, may be zero. The distributions shall be based on projected costs and special interim distributions may be made if actual costs exceed projections. No distribution shall be made and no funds shall be expended to support any activities that are not reasonably and directly necessary for the operation of the telecommunications relay service as defined in this section.
D. The Department shall transfer any funds received from the National Exchange Carrier Association, or other funding sources for purposes of operating telecommunications relay services, to VITA for costs associated with telecommunications relay service.
– Thanks to AP