Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Captioned Telephone Update

Captioned phones are not available to everyone who needs that service. HLAA recently heard from consumers in Delaware who were distressed that they live in the last state to adopt captioned phone services.

Pictured: Ultratec's CapTel 200

HLAA is working to ensure that everyone who needs the service gets it. We have joined with other consumer organizations, Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), Telecommunications for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (TDI), Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), National Association of the Deaf (NAD) as well as audiologists in several meetings with staff and Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). We believe a mandate for captioned telephones will bring the kind of standards and consistency we need across the country, and more captioned phones into the hands of the people who need them.

We also hope to see more competition, more providers entering the market, once a mandate is in place. We have seen more than one provider Internet-based captioned phones.

American Network’s Phone Caption with Cisco 7960


Ultratec’s 800i

We would always be happy to see more options, more choices for consumers, whether via standard landline phones or Internet-based phones.

We will continue to hold meetings to provide a consumer perspective to the staff and Commissioners at the FCC. If you have had good or bad experiences with captioned telephone services or if you know people who would like captioned telephone service but have had trouble getting it in your state, please do let us know. We will take your stories to the FCC.

Note: It has been brought to our attention that an error was made in the March 3 posting of this blog. In that posting, we mentioned that a consumer in Maryland was unable to use the captioned telephone service to reach Canada. That was correct, but we erroneously chalked that up to yet another restriction on state services. We have since learned that it was not Maryland Relay that prevented that call from being completed. The phone that was being used was the 800i, which uses broadband technology to allow for both incoming and outgoing calls. It was not clear to the providers of captioned phone services that the FCC would allow reimbursement for international captioned telephone calls on broadband. Its our understanding that they are seeking clarification on that issue. There is no such question about standard captioned phone services – you should be able to make international calls, no matter which state you live in via standard captioned telephone services.

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