What is Captioned Telephone Service?
Captioned telephone service, also known as IP CTS, is a form of telecommunications relay service (TRS) that enables people with hearing loss to speak during a phone call and then read captions on a telephone or app when the other person responds. The IP CTS program is protected by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act and overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
How does Captioned Telephone Service work?
When someone with hearing loss picks up a captioned telephone (or uses a mobile app offered by an IP CTS provider) to make a call, the call is automatically routed through a call center. Once the call is received in the call center, there are two different methods through which the other person’s speech is captioned for the IP CTS user: either through a combination of advanced automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology and a skilled transcriber, or by ASR technology only. Once a call is captioned at the call center, the text is sent back to the IP CTS user’s phone or app in real-time. This service enables Americans with hearing loss to engage in telephone conversations and ensures they understand what the other party is saying.
How is Captioned Telephone Service funded?
Captioned telephone service is funded by a small charge on American consumer phone bills and is available at no extra cost to Americans with hearing loss.
Who uses Captioned Telephone Service?
Currently, nearly 500,000 Americans with hearing loss use captioned telephone services. While seniors account for the majority of users, younger Americans with hearing loss also benefit from the service. In fact, many captioned telephone users are veterans, among whom hearing loss is now the second most prevalent service-connected disability.
Why is the Clear2Connect Coalition concerned about Captioned Telephone Service?
It is vitally important that captioned telephone service be accurate, especially when users are speaking with health care providers, emergency responders or others sharing critical information. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission has yet to put the necessary rigorous quality metrics and standards in place to ensure accuracy, which is the central focus of the Clear2Connect Coalition’s advocacy.