May 102010
 

A Message from the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to the VRS Community

You may have seen claims that the video relay service (VRS) program is threatened.  This is not true.  The FCC is committed to ensuring the provision of high quality VRS to all individuals who need this service.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires telecommunications access that is functionally equivalent to voice telephone services for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities.  The FCC continues to believe that VRS is the most functionally equivalent form of relay for people who communicate using American Sign Language (ASL).  We stand ready to meet our obligation to preserve and protect the VRS program so that ASL users and hearing people can communicate with each other over distances.  This was the goal of Congress in passing the ADA and it continues to be our goal.

Here are the facts:  On April 30th, the FCC released a Public Notice (DA-10-761A1.doc) asking the general public for feedback on what VRS providers should be paid to handle VRS calls for the next year.  The Public Notice seeks comment on reimbursing providers based on the actual costs that VRS providers themselves claim to have incurred over the past few years to provide VRS.  The only way to safeguard the VRS program is to adopt reasonable rates for all forms of relay services.  Thus, it is our goal to adopt rates that are rationally based on the reasonable costs of actually providing VRS.  We welcome all comments on our Public Notice, and will take all feedback into account to determine the next VRS rates.  The VRS program will continue to provide the excellent communication service that you need.

Joel Gurin, Bureau Chief
Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Bureau Chief

– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax