Sunday, March 7, 2010

When do we shift from Abnormal to Normal? and Who Decides?

The New FCC Ruling has brought a fear to employees and employers who use or want to use VRS for reasonable accomodation. Will they be next?

1) Summary of Important topics of Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA)
2) Original Purpose of TRS and Advancement of VRS
3) Jobs - When do we shift from Abnormal to Normal?

Summary of important topics on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed by President Bush on July 26, 1990, is landmark legislation to extend civil rights protection to people with disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government services, public transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications.

Title I (Employment) requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others.

Public accommodations covered by Title III of the ADA must remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, including communication barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily achievable. The ADA generally defines readily achievable as "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - Telecommunications services for hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals codified at 47 U.S.C. § 225. The FCC is required by law to carry out the purposes established under section 151 of this title, to make available to all individuals in the United States a rapid, efficient nationwide communication service, and to increase the utility of the telephone system of the Nation, the Commission shall ensure that interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, to hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals in the United States.

Original Purpose of TRS and Advancement of VRS

The original purpose of TRS Fund is simply provide a two-way communication between deaf, hard of hearing, and speech-disabled individuals to leverage a functional equivalence experience.

According to the TRS Rules; § 64.601 Definitions and provisions of general applicability; Section (15) it is noted that " that enable two-way communication between an individual who uses a text telephone or other nonvoice terminal device and an individual who does not use such a device, speech-to-speech services, video relay services and non-English relay services". The underlying concept of TRS is to provide a true telephone conversation between the caller and called parties (deaf/hoh/speech-disabled and hearing persons)……The Commission shall ensure that regulations prescribed to implement this section encourage, consistent with section 157(a) of this title, the use of existing technology and do not discourage or impair the development of improved technology.

Video Relay Service (VRS) was first recognized as a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) in 2000 …..allows a person with a hearing or speech disability to communicate in American Sign Language, the natural language of many individuals with hearing and speech disabilities. …..connected with a communications assistant (CA) who can see the user via a camera built into the user’s computer…..relays the user’s signed messages into speech for the other party and vice-versa. This incredible innovation allows a conversation to flow in near real-time, a great advancement over other forms of TRS.

It is important to understand that Video Relay is not government funded. It is not an appropriation and it is not a tax. Each telephone company is required to make their services accessible to individuals with disabilities. This has been defined to be relay in the various forms (Traditional, VRS, STS, IP Relay, et. al). Each common carrier contributes 0.01137% of their telephone service revenue. They do this because not all common carriers provide relay individually. There had to be a way to pay those that provided relay for those that did not, therefore the interstate relay fund started. Stating the contribution factor in a different way; it is one thousand one hundred thirty seven hundred thousandths of one percent. You would not be able to see the penny if sliced to the proportion a private telephone company contributes.

Jobs - When do we shift from Abnormal to Normal?

Living the last 50 years has allowed this author to witness change, change for the good and bad. One important note is all of us go through that change in different ways. Many of us use terms like Normal and Abnormal to help define where we are in that change.

Have you ever notice when we see or communicate something that is “out of the ordinary” or abnormal? You will see different responses based upon each person’s life experiences. What makes it so abnormal? Is it because it's not customary in their culture? Perhaps some of us just lack the drive for adventure and remain submerged in the pool of common events. Perhaps new technology that can advance people’s lives is initially abnormal and over time becomes normal. Perhaps the application of the new technology is faced with resistance to change. Perhaps the new technology and application of that technology is so new, that ignorance is a barrier, therefore labeled abnormal.

So we are all aware of the Recent FCC Ruling (February 25, 2010) where the FCC retroactively applied a new ruling affecting VRS Company’s on an attempt to reduce FRAUD and this author wishes to point out an important concerns potentially steming from the FCC Declaratory Ruling.

This author, once again, supports the importance to prevent Fraud - never tolerate “manufactured minutes” and also supports the establishment of new rules to ensure integrity in the VRS industry.

What this author does fear is our Government Regulators and Congress' capability to ensuring due process in establishing rules and regulations, proper clarity in detail of those rules disclosed in the process before stipulation/determination coupled with proper education and implementation that is consistent with the ADA and Civil Rights of our people.

Instead of picking apart the different section of the February 25, 2010 Declaratory Ruling, this author has chosen to address the abnormal and normal issues the Deaf/HH need to understand for their OWN RIGHTS. With unemployment of nearly 60% of these individuals, it is clear, even with ADA, has prevented them from entering into the work force. With the new technology of VRS and the ability to integrate at a reasonably low cost into their facilities, there is now new opportunities that will become NORMAL expectation. Recruiting, hiring and training will integrate Deaf/HH into many positions.

There are ADA organizations and Diversity Directors and Leading Companies that are charged to find new ways to provide reasonable accommodation to the Deaf/HH. Some companies may even integrate Deaf/HH into their workforce simply to become more aware of the Deaf/HH needs. MOST, if not all, of these jobs require the use of VRS. When will this become NORMAL in our society? What rules could be created to prevent it versus reward it?

The FCC February 25, 2010 Declaratory Ruling stipulates that VRS Providers Deaf/HH “Employees/Contractors” are to be treated differently than the rest of the Deaf/HH community by declaring their minutes as non-reimbursable, it is not an expense either since 90% of their VRS minutes are not allowed in the FCC expense worksheet to determine rates.

THERFORE, This author warns the PUBLIC (Hearing, Deaf/HH and Corporate America) that this ruling better not infect the small and large companies and corporations of America and directly compete with the purpose of ADA.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

FCC Ruling - VRS and the Freedom of Speech

The new FCC Ruling appears to directly infringe on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Freedom of Speech by limiting the their primary ACCESS to their FUNCTIONAL EQUIVALENT vehicle(VRS) to Communicate. Much of the discussion appears to be around Conference Calls and the content of those calls to prevent fraud. When does fraud prevention rules cross the line into civil liberties?

Click here first to read more about the FCC, VRS and the FCC Ruling before commenting on this blog.

1) Freedom of Speech - Fist Amendment and Bill of Rights
2) Conference Calls (VRS versus Video Conferencing)
3) FCC Ruling and Conference Calls
4) Why do I care?

Freedom of Speech - First Amendment and Bill of Rights

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech and infringing on the freedom of the press. In the 20th century, the Supreme Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to each state, including any local government.

The legal protections of the First Amendment are some of the broadest of any industrialized nation, and remain a critical, and occasionally controversial, component of American jurisprudence.

Our Court system acknowledges that the 1st Amendment freedoms of speech and press were tied fundamentally to the ideas of liberty and due process in the 14th Amendment. Thus, the rights of free speech and press were viewed as part of an individual's liberty that, according to the 14th Amendment, could not be taken from any person without due process of law.

Our Freedom of Speech can be and has been regulated (e.g. criminalizing hate speech, prohibiting speech that presents a clear and present danger, establishing safe harbor time periods on TV, clamping down on speech that threatens the national security)

Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws.

Conference Calls (VRS versus Video Conferencing)

Video Relay Service (VRS) Conference Calls utilize an Communication Assistant(Interpreter) for those participating on the conference call that are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. All parties (Hearing and Deaf/HH) dial into a common BRIDGE PHONE NUMBER (Conference Call Number) that Hearing people have been using in the work place for years. FCC regulations are clear that a valid VRS conference call must have both a Hearing and Deaf/HH participants. The purpose is to facilitate the communication between multiple Hearing and Deaf participants so the Deaf participants (Functional Equivalence through VRS) can communicate with the Hearing. The minutes where Deaf and Hard of Hearing participants are using VRS to dial into the Hearing Bridge number are reimbursable by NECA through FCC rules. The minutes by Hearing people who dial into the bridge are not reimbursable through NECA and are paid directly to the telecommunications carrier. Until Video Conferencing, VRS Conference calls was the only mechanism for Deaf/HH to have a productive group meeting, especially when the participants are located in various locations throughout the United States.

Video Conferencing is a new and very expensive technology to communicate. This new technology is used by VRS companies in the last year. Some very large corporations have been testing and implementing this new technology for the last few years. Bottom line, the difference between this technology and VRS Conference Calls is the ability to host a video conference that allows people to speak/Sign(ASL) in a group without using VRS. The majority of the costs of this technology is through the Internet bandwidth, hardware and software to enable each participant. Remember watching the "Brady Bunch" - the show displayed the whole family on the TV screen all at once. Just imagine 2 to 20 people on each of the participants video screen (monitor). If their is a hearing party on the video conference, then VRI services (Not Reimbursable by the FCC) can be used to bridge the communication betweeen the hearing participants and the deaf/HH participants.

A few VRS companies, have invested into Video Conferencing technology to enable their Deaf/HH employees to communicate ever since the September, 2009 FCC Ruling that All Deaf calls are non-reimbursable through VRS. This new tool allows video display of all the deaf participants to use ASL to communicate with each other. Through these advancement and learning from the traditional VRS Conference call with a bridge number, Deaf and Hard of Hearing along with Hearing individual have "formally" acquired a communication etiquette that now transfers directly to the Video Conference technology.

Now, through the two technology, business managers can now determine the best method to communicate based upon the participants and subject matter.

FCC Ruling and Conference Calls

VRS Conference Calls were a subject of large discussion on the determination to make Employee/Contractors non-reimbursable through the TRS funds.

Much of the discussion surrounding this decision appears to be on two major points:

1) There are a limited supply of interpreters. The fact that small VRS companies had to plan such calls to ensure they did not affect their customer ASA and subsequent Service Level Rules by the FCC (80% of all calls answered must be answered in less than 120 seconds - all calls offered include those abandon calls that could be less than 5 seconds) which could cause all minutes to be non-reimbursable.

2) The fact that the subject matter pertaining to Conference Calls may not have been business related.

Regarding number 1, this is an issue for smaller VRS company's with a small amount of interpreters while larger VRS company's with more than 75% of the market and a massive amount of interpreters along with large fluctuation's in call volume can easy absorb without planning. The fact that these small companies had to plan and execute under a schedule can be easily justified.

Regarding number 2, this is a in-direct attack on Deaf and Hard of Hearing ACCESS (ADA) to Freedom of Speech. To review call content and RESTRICT ACCESS by declaring what is reimbursable based upon employment is a in-direct violation of their rights. The whole purpose of the TRS fund that WE pay pennies at the end contributor level conflicts with this NEW FCC RULING. Many Hearing individuals talk about their lives, what is going on personally with work/home or just having a conversation of sharing and caring to build relationships in their environment AND IS NORMAL. To in-directly infringe on this right through restriction of use (non-reimbursable segregation) where interrogation or causing an interpreter to break their ethics in their occupation is unjust and inviolable.

Why do I care?

For Hearing People: Starting with Interpreters, we should recognize the importance of these individuals responsibility to maintain confidentiality of the people they serve. To put these important people in a position to even compromise the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is unethical. Turning an Interpreter into a JUDGE lacks good judgement by those who create policy and rules. Hearing individuals must realize that depending on the subject and participation of any conference call, the appropriate technology should be used and understood and applied. Hearing people will learn the frustrations that Deaf/HH have been experiencing for years by ensuring that the participants appropriately allow for proper dialog and rules in dialog.

For Deaf People: Do not be afraid to Speek and be heard through your common language of American Sign Language (ASL). Do not worry that you discussed football, basketball, volleyball or what is going on with your family when communicating with ANYONE ANYTIME. Hearing people, for many years, have discussed personal matters before business matters. Sharing jokes and other information that may not be ONLY business allow you to interact and belong to a community. By sharing more with your hearing friends, family and co-workers, you bring awareness and appreciation of your needs and our society in general.

For Society in General: By no means does this author believe that conference calls should be allowed to manufacture VRS minutes to purely bill the TRS Fund. It is important to understand this industry and the new technologies that have been created and provide ACCESS to communicate to advance our citizenship. This author also recognizes the importance of "NO TOLERANCE" for any infringement on Deaf and Hard of Hearing RIGHT to speek and speek freely through their FUNCTIONAL EQUIVALENT vehicle of VRS in their language of ASL to the Hearing.


Furthermore, the First Amendment does not say that VRS calls generated by the providers' employees and independent contractors have to be reimbursed by the Interstate TRS Fund. IT IS RECOGNIZED by this author to be a Reasonable Accommodation through ADA which is the very reason the TRS fund was established and WHY these calls should be reimbursed.

And finally, CONTROL LEADS TO FEAR. Employees are willing to perform their job well. It is fairly standard in all businesses/government to limit calls to work/business matters. Instead of worring about what calls they make they should be managed by objectives and goals along with improving their work. This should be no different with our Deaf and Hard of Hearing and is already imbedded in the culture.

From the FEBRUARY 25, 2010 NEW FCC Ruling, if the employer attempts to limit the calls of its employees to those pertaining to work/business matters, then the FEAR that is created in such a company policy can only build a culture of Fear and NO TRUST. Notwithstanding, the ridiculous attempt to define "work/business substance" (i.e. asking how the other party is doing is not business matters!).

To bring this full circle - FEAR was hand down by a CONTROLLING FCC RULE of ACCESS disguised as Fraud prevention which will then be handed down to VRS company's is the very reason for concern. The controlling nature of this cascading event disregards overall BIG PICTURE PURPOSE and GOALS. The FCC Ruling forces the "Controlling" nature of events causing a cascading limitation of Free Speech and reduction in overall American economy and productivity. The FCC Ruling is to prevent Fraud, not limit Free Speech, BUT the system all works together - VRS, ADA, Purpose of TRS Fund and Free Speech - therefore you must consider the impacts and purpose for all of these systems before creating such a FCC Ruling. Go back to the grass roots, start with Functional Equivalent Access under ADA that we who pay pennies to the Interstate Telecommunication companies would be happy to double, tripple or quadripple to ensure Deaf/HH are employed and productive in our society, have opportunities and seek further education and on and on and on.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

FCC Ruling gives me NO CONFIDENCE in our ability to Manage Health Care in Government...

Today, we all seek some comfort in knowing our government and it’s officials can demonstrate the ability to properly manage their areas of responsibility, we wish for thoughtful decisions that will ultimately improve our world. I want to believe it can come from our Government, but the February 25, 2010 NEW FCC RULING affecting deaf and hard of hearing individuals and VRS companies gives me great doubt.

· Why the comparison to the Telecommunications industry?
· Who is the FCC?
· What are you talking about – Deaf/HH and VRS and especially this ruling?
· Why do I care/what difference does it make?
· Who should I contact to share YOUR CHOICE?

Why the comparison to the Telecommunications industry?

Much like Health Care, Telecommunications has become such a common tool that its use is essential for participation in nearly all aspects of our society. Today, most Americans rely on telecommunications for routine daily activities, such as making doctors' appointments, calling home when they are late for dinner, participating in conference calls at work, and making airline reservations. Moreover, diverse telecommunications tools such as distance learning, telemedicine, telecommuting and video conferencing enable Americans to interface anytime from anywhere.

Telecommunications is a critical tool for employment. If telecommunications technologies are not accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, many qualified individuals will not be able to work or achieve their full potential in the workplace. Congress recognized the importance of creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities with Title I of the ADA, which addresses the employer's responsibilities in making the workplace accessible to employees with disabilities. Many FCC telecommunications access rules complement Title I of the ADA by giving employers expanded tools with which to employ and accommodate persons with disabilities.

Access to telecommunications is essential in bringing a great measure of independence to members of the disability community. Access to telecommunications services also plays a critical role in life-threatening emergencies.

Who is the FCC?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.
The FCC staff is organized by function. There are seven operating Bureaus and ten Staff Offices. The Bureaus’ responsibilities include: processing applications for licenses and other filings; analyzing complaints; conducting investigations; developing and implementing regulatory programs; and taking part in hearings. FCC Offices provide support services. Even though the Bureaus and Offices have their individual functions, they regularly join forces and share expertise in addressing Commission issues.

The Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau educates and informs consumers about telecommunications goods and services and engages their input to help guide the work of the Commission. CGB coordinates telecommunications policy efforts with industry and with other governmental agencies — federal, tribal, state and local — in serving the public interest.

The Disability Rights Office (DRO) of the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau addresses disability-related telecommunications matters, including telecommunications relay service (TRS), access to telecommunications equipment and services by persons with disabilities (Section 255), access to emergency information, and closed captioning. DRO also provides expert advice and assistance, as required, to other Bureaus and Offices, consumers, industry, and others on issues relevant to persons with disabilities. DRO initiates rulemakings, where appropriate, for the development of disability policy; reviews relevant agenda items and other documents and coordinates with Bureaus and Offices to develop recommendations and propose policies to ensure that communications are accessible to persons with disabilities, in conformance with existing disability laws and policies, and that they support the FCC's goal of increasing accessibility of communications services and technologies for persons with disabilities.

The FCC is the regulatory body for Video Relay Service (VRS) in the United States. In addition to overseeing VRS, the FCC also oversees Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), from which the VRS regulatory framework has evolved. The FCC oversees TRS and VRS as a result of their mandate in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) to facilitate the provisions equal access to individuals with disabilities over the telephone network.
Funding for VRS is provided via the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Fund, which was created by the FCC, originally to fund TRS services. Funding for the TRS comes from a CONTRIBUTION FACTOR on the revenue from all telecommunications companies operating in the US. The contribution factor on revenue is set by the FCC yearly and has been steadily increasing as the number of VRS minutes continues to climb. For 2007 the tax is 7.2/100ths of a penny per dollar of revenue, up from 3.8/100th of a penny in 2000. As an example, a revenue tax of .0072 is expected to only generate $553 million against telecommunications industry revenue of $76.8 billion. The fund is managed by National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA), which also administers the much larger Universal Service Fund and publishes the reimbursement rates paid to providers.

The United States citizens should note that Video Relay is not government funded. Our telephone carriers/companies are required to make this service available because of the ADA law. A telecommunications carrier contributes 0.01137% of their telephone service revenue to make these services available. For the the customers of these telecommunication companies, it represents pennies to hearing people to allow this wonderful service for our deaf and hard of hearing.

In addition to regulating the funding of VRS, the FCC regulates the standards that VRS companies and their employees must follow in handling calls. These regulations ensure that VRS calls are handled appropriately and ethically.

What are you talking about – Deaf/HH and VRS and especially this ruling?

Video Relay Service (VRS)
is relatively new, reimbursement by the FCC started in 2002. The Video Relay Service is the FIRST communication advancement for Deaf/HH individuals to have "functional equivalence" in the workplace and home. This basic ability to provide what hearing people call "dial tone" is a break through for ensuring Deaf/HH individuals the ability to speak in their native language ASL.

Traditional jobs that hearing people take for granted are now available through VRS to our Deaf/HH citizens. New innovative technology integration will allow them to attain positions they never before had a chance, thereby meeting Equal Employment Opportunity through this great ADA law. Diversity Managers in large and small corporations no longer have to worry about “additional expenses” OR “company customers satisfaction/experience” when attempting to hire deaf and hard of hearing persons. Many people do not realize that before this wonderful technology (VRS) and all the contributors to improve it (Functional Equivalence) that the cost to hire a deaf/hh person could not be justified. A business simply can not lose money just to be socially responsible – the business will not exist without a profit.

Parents of Deaf and Hard of Hearing along with people who become deaf/hh are learning American Sign Language (ASL). They are becoming productive in traditional jobs hearing people take for granted. Through the innovation and competition of VRS companies, we are becoming a productive society.

February 25, 2010 FCC Ruling:

“In this Declaratory Ruling, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) addresses the compensability from the Interstate TRS Fund (Fund) of certain types of calls made through Video Relay Service (VRS), a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).[1] First, we emphasize that VRS calls made by or to a VRS provider’s employee, or the employee of a provider’s subcontractor, are not eligible for compensation from the TRS Fund on a per-minute basis from the Fund, but rather as business expenses. Second, we emphasize that VRS calls placed for the purpose of generating compensable minutes are not, and never have been, compensable from the Fund. Finally, we emphasize that two categories of calls do not meet the definition of TRS or otherwise are not compensable from the Fund under plain statutory language: (1) VRS Voice Carry Over used to connect two hearing users and (2) VRS calls used to connect two users who are both outside the United States.”

It is the “First” section (bolded by this author) that is not a thoughtful decision (RULING) for several reasons:
1) VRS Employees range from Sales & Marketing, Accounting, Information Technology, Product Development, Payroll, Human Resources, Operations and Legal.

2) Definitions of FCC Expenses only cover a RANGE of Employment categories and therefore NOT a Business Expense and NOT considered in setting Rates according to FCC instructions and worksheet

3) What happened to Functional Equivalence based upon 1 and 2 above?

4) To illustrate the confusions: FCC website mentions the importance of participating on Conference Calls, which their website at recognizes. What sales person has ever worked for a company that did not discuss it’s products, pipeline, quotas, product/service details and goals? Do you realize the way the FCC wrote this, it appears the VRS companies should compute this as a business expense but then denies the ability to treat it as a business expense in the worksheet and instructions. The same thing applies for 90% of the deaf and hard of hearing people working for a VRS company.

5) Another illustration: Deaf/HH individual in Accounting calls a corporation to collect funds owed for a Community Services job, this is now NOT reimbursable just because it is also a VRS company.

6) And on and on and on….

Finally, I understand that ONE VRS COMPANY has been issued a demand for payment of $19 million for previous years based upon this new RULE. I also understand that the FCC/NECA is NOT PAYING the VRS company for previous month minutes. I have always believed that our government and I should always do the “RIGHT THING”. This type of retroactive demand is simply unfair and leads any reader to believe that there must be a hidden agenda. To create a NEW RULE and make this retroactive is crazy. To indicate in the ruling that came out February 25, 2010 and refer to a requirement to fill out Business Expense on February 15, 2010 to determine NECA rates is ridiculous. Besides, as mentioned earlier, the so called Business Expense for these Deaf/HH employees/contractors will not be allowed anyway acccording to the FCC Instructions for the form! This company should take the minutes produced by their employees times the $4.20 and request credit for the so called debt owed.

The ONLY way to make this decision by the FCC “Right” is to implement this decision and adjust the Reimbursable rate at the same time OR allow this company to deduct direct costs for these employee/ contractor minutes at the published FCC VRS costs (approx $4.20 per minute) thereby creating a credited to the FCC debt request. Most importantly, for crying in a bucket, timely pay them for their minutes they already submitted!

Why do I care/what difference does it make?

It is important to evaluate what we allow as a society to “hand over” to the government. With that said, I still would need to break down “why you should care” into two groups so you understand the decisions that need to be made:

For HEARING PEOPLE: Bottom line, this is a simple decision for you. You can pay the insignificant amount our Interstate Telecommunications company’s charge us for this VRS service, in fact you could probably double, triple or quadruple it and care less – it is insignificant and as much less than a penny. If you DISAGREE with the NEW FCC RULING described above then you should find out more, ask questions and know the impact to you indirectly. If you AGREE with the New FCC Ruling (bolded) – then I worry you have not considered the number of Deaf/HH people that will be laid off, unemployment compensation, higher health care costs, foreclosures and other cascading impacts to you indirectly.

For DEAF and HARD OF HEARING PEOPLE: I am so sorry. Someone once told me in the 1960’s that a White man cannot know what is like to be a Black man, because they are not Black. This is the same thing. I am not sure anyone can explain that VRS companies are Corporations, not government. They seek profits. The major employer of Deaf/HH people are VRS, VRI, Text and On-site interpreting companies. To think the major employer for you was just “killed” through this new rule is sickening. Under this NEW FCC Ruling, you must add approximately $50 PER HOUR to every Deaf/HH individual who works outside the defined FCC direct VRS Expense allowance. I am sure this will reduce the deaf and hard of hearing individuals employed to a minimum (i.e. justified by the FCC as a Expense consideration). Again, I am so sorry, I suggest you advocate for higher rates so you are not cheated.

Society in General: Ever since Congress deregulated the telecommunications industry, the majority of telephone customers have benefited from more choices, lower costs and better service. I mentioned earlier, that I fear there is a hidden agenda. The fear stems from the fact that one VRS provider (Sorenson) already owns 80% of the market with no new product improvement. All the new mobile devices and home devices deaf/hh innovations are by other companies. The decisions the FCC are making basically disable/cripple and most likely foreclose on the smaller companies leaving one large giant OR MONOPOLY. This is unacceptable. God forbid the government allow this. I could hypothesis a strategy to get to a single provider who could negotiate an consumer insignificant rate with lower quality thereby the two parties win (FCC and Market Dominant Corporation - Sorenson).

Who should I contact to share YOUR CHOICE?

Go to your Congress Person website, look up your local congress person and tell them what you would like to see happen! to

Write directly to the FCC!
Chairman Julius Genachowski 418 1000
Commissioner Michael Copps 418 2000
Commissioner Robert McDowell 418 2200
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn 418 2100
Commissioner Meredith Attwell

[1] TRS is defined in section 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act or Communications Act). See 47 U.S.C. § 225(a)(3); Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, § 401, 104 Stat. 327, 336-69 (1990) (ADA). See also 47 C.F.R. § 64.601(26) (defining VRS); 47 C.F.R. §§ 64.601 et seq. (implementing regulations).