Net neutrality has become a hot topic across the country this past week.  What does it mean for the deaf and hard of hearing community?

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up rules to require net neutrality. These rules require all internet service providers (ISPs) to treat equally everything you do on the Internet, including videophone (VP) relay programs, captioned telephone services (IP-CTS), video calling services like FaceTime and Skype, or videos with closed captions.  Right now, you can use your internet connection for anything you want to do.

But this might change!

The FCC meets on December 14, 2017 to vote on dropping the net neutrality rules that the FCC set up in 2015.  This means, for example, ISPs could block you from using FaceTime.  This really did happen before 2015, and could happen again.  The ISPs could also block, intentionally slow down, or charge more to use search engines, download or upload videos (including calling people via video), or checking emails.

However, relay services and other protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal accessibility laws will not go away just because net neutrality goes away.  Also, even if net neutrality is removed, the FCC will continue to require ISPs to tell you what services they will limit so you can choose to buy services from the ISP that will give you what you need.  The FCC plans to keep this requirement.

The repeal of net neutrality is too risky and may block Internet applications and programs that deaf and hard of hearing people need.  That’s why we have supported and continue to support net neutrality. We are asking the FCC to keep the net neutrality rules.

Share your questions and concerns with the FCC by December 7, 2017:

  • File your comments online in the Wireline Competition Docket #17-108
  • Call the ASL Consumer Support Number: 844-4-FCC-ASL (844-432-2275)

Organizations behind this Joint Statement:

  • National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
  • Association for Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)
  • Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO)
  • California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH)
  • Clayton H. Lewis (an advocate for individuals with cognitive disabilities)
  • Deaf Seniors of America (DSA)
  • Gallaudet Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Gallaudet RERC)
  • Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
  • National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NASADHH)
  • Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI)
  • The Trace Center, University of Maryland – College Park (Trace Center)