USA and Telecommunications for the Deaf

fcclogowords.gifThe Federal Communications Commission

In the USA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a federal government agency, oversees the telecommunication and television industries at our federal level. They issue Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in a variety of matters.

Telecommunication Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities

On Wednesday, September 1, 2004, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the following topics:

*Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service
*Video Relay Service (VRS)
* possible mechanisms to determine which IP Relay and VRS calls are intrastate and which are interstate for purposes of reimbursement
*whether IP Relay and VRS should become mandatory Telecommunication Relay Services (TRS)
*whether IP Relay and VRS should be required to be offered 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
*whether, when and how the FCC should apply the speed of answer rule to the provision of VRS
*the FCC also seeks comment on redefining the responsibilities of TRS Advisory Council
* and on issues relating to the abuse of Communication Assistants (CAs) by persons using TRS.

This FNPRM can be downloaded in Word and Portable Document format (PDF) at:

I will discuss what some of the above are over the next few days.


The Commission uses proceedings such as these to elicit written input from the public. Comments are due on or before October 18, 2004, and reply comments are due on or before November 15, 2004.

How can comments be submitted?

Commenters can choose one of the following ways to send in comments to the above proceeding:

1. Email comments by sending to;
2. use the postal service or overnight courier to send in comments;
3. submit by hand to the FCC in Washington, D.C.

Interestingly enough, the NPRM states that all hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners and any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.

The Notice very firmly states if parties are submitting hard paper copies, they must also submit a diskette, on a 3.5 inch diskette using IBM compatible format using Word 97 or compatible software. After reading all the intructions related to submitting hard paper copies, it would appear to be much easier to simply submit electronic email comments to the FCC.