Take Action

How can you help preserve access to communication technology? There are a number of ways.

First, if you’re part of an organization committed to ensuring Americans with hearing loss can access the technology they need to communicate, we invite you to join the Clear2Connect Coalition.

Contact your Congressional representatives

To help, you can use the sample language below for calls, letters, or emails. You can also customize it by including your own personal message or story about how IP CTS helps you.

My name is [your full name], and I’m from [city]. I’m [calling/writing] to ask [Representative (name)] to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement policies to ensure that Americans with hearing loss have access to quality, accurate communications technology services, including Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) and Video Relay Service (VRS)—as is their right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the ADA requires that people with hearing loss have access to communications technology that is “functionally equivalent” to what people without hearing loss use.

Regarding captioned telephone service, the FCC has conditionally certified vendors that offer automatic speech recognition (ASR)-only solutions for captioned telephone service. While ASR technology is progressively improving, the FCC has not yet implemented the rigorous quality standards needed to ensure its accuracy. Without a proper testing process and metrics requirements in place, ASR-only captioned telephone service could pose risks to its users. IP CTS has been a critical life-changing service for older Americans, veterans, and others with hearing loss.

Regarding VRS, In recent years, the technology has not kept pace with the advancements we’ve seen in telecommunications for hearing Americans and the quality of service has diminished significantly. For instance, the wait time between entering a phone number and being connected to an interpreter has increased, while the quality of interpreting has decreased. This isn’t just an inconvenience for VRS users; it can be potentially dangerous. VRS—and the quality of its service—can be critical, even lifesaving, when it comes to communication for health care and emergency situations.

Can I count on [Representative (name)] to be an advocate before the FCC to protect the quality of these essential services by advocating that the FCC must put rigorous quality measures and standards in place?

Members of the U.S. Congress – Contact Information

 

Contact the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

To help, you can use the sample language below for calls, letters, or emails. You can also customize it by including your own personal message or story about how IP CTS helps you.

My name is [your full name], and I’m from [city]. I’m [calling/writing] to ask [Chairman (name)/Commissioner (name)] to heed the urgency of implementing policies to ensure that Americans with hearing loss have access to quality, accurate communications technology services, including Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) and Video Relay Service (VRS)—as is their right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, I am asking that the FCC put rigorous quality standards and metrics in place for both services. IP CTS and VRS have been critical, life-changing services for deaf and hard of hearing Americans and we must continue to ensure that they are accurate and accessible to all. Can I count on [Chairman (name)/Commissioner (name)] to protect access to these essential services?

FCC Contact Information

 

Share information about this issue on social media

To help, you can use the sample language below or share your own post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn using the hashtag #Clear2Connect.

  •  I am urging the @FCC to implement policies to ensure that Americans with hearing loss have access to quality, accurate communications technology services—as is their right under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Learn more from @Clear2Connect at Clear2Connect.org.
  • Captioned telephone service is life-changing for people with hearing loss. The @FCC must implement policies for quality standards to ensure that the service is accurate and accessible to all. Connect with @Clear2Connect and visit Clear2Connect.org to learn more.
  • A lack of Video Relay Service innovation furthers the “digital divide” for Americans with hearing disabilities. @FCC must implement VRS reform that provides for modernization to ensure quality service. Connect with @Clear2Connect and visit Clear2Connect.org to learn more.

Include information about this issue in your organization’s newsletter

To help, you can use the sample language below:

Are you familiar with Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), also known as captioned telephone service, and Video Relay Service (VRS)? These life-changing services are vital tools for people with hearing disabilities to communicate.

Captioned telephone service enables people with hearing loss to use their residual hearing by speaking during a phone call and then reading captions on a specialized telephone or app when the other person responds. VRS enables a person who uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with a hearing person using a telephone.

Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Americans who experience a hearing and/or speech disability have a right to access telecommunications services that are “functionally equivalent” to those used by consumers without these types of disabilities. It is vitally important that captioned telephone service and Video Relay Service be accurate, especially when users are speaking with health care providers, emergency responders, or others sharing critical information. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which oversees both CTS and VRS, must take action to protect the quality and accuracy of these communications services. Given the critical importance of these services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge the FCC to adopt new service quality standards for communications services and ensure continual modernization of these services for deaf and hard of hearing consumers. 

Learn more about how you can advocate for the FCC to implement policies to ensure that Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing have access to quality, accurate communications technology services, including IP CTS and VRS by visiting Clear2Connect.org.

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