NAD and Consumer Groups Develop a Telecommunications Relay Policy Statement
The National Association of the Deaf along with other consumer groups representing individuals with hearing or speech disabilities developed a Telecommunications Relay Service Policy Statement defining "functional equivalency." Functional equivalency is a cornerstone of Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act and requires that Telecommunication Relay Services provided for individuals with hearing and speech disabilities be functionally equivalent to voice telephone services. This policy statement will be used by Consumer Groups as the standard filter through which every TRS program action proposed or taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and TRS providers is assessed. We also urge the FCC to use this important document to help evaluate its past, pending, and future decisions that impact telecommunications relay services. The Consumer Groups define functional equivalency in the context of using relay service as follows:
“Persons receiving or making relay calls are able to participate equally in the entire conversation with the other party or parties and they experience the same activity, emotional context, purpose, operation, work, service, or role (function) within the call as if the call is between individuals who are not using relay services on any end of the call.”
The Consumer Groups submitted a list of ten core functional equivalency principles to the FCC that represent their expectations for high quality, empowering telecommunications relay services:
“While we have made much progress over the years, there is still much work to do before we achieve true functional equivalency in the context of using relay service. The NAD hopes that this Consumer Groups’ policy statement will serve as a guide for everyone involved with this important mission” said NAD Presidnet Bobbie Beth Scoggins.
Click here to download the full Consumer Groups Telecommunications Relay Service Policy Statement.