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June 15, 2007

Video Relay Services Consumer Association (VRSCA) Spurs Large Response from Deaf Community to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Proposed VRS Rate Cuts

Tens of Thousands of Comments Sent to the FCC Since Mid-May as a Result of the VRSCA Organization and Regional Coordinators

Washington, D.C. and 15, 2007–Currently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reviewing proposals to severely reduce Video Relay Service (VRS) funding. In response, volunteer regional managers and coordinators from the Video Relay Services Consumer Association (VRSCA) have organized community meetings across the United States and rallied Deaf individuals, VRS consumers, and other VRS supporters to send a clear message to the FCC: Do not cut VRS funding! Since mid-May, tens of thousan of comments have been sent to the FCC via letters and postcards, which were also made available at the VRSCA events.

Annually, the FCC, the government body that regulates VRS, reviews the reimbursement rate to VRS providers. This year's proposed cuts to VRS funding would severely limit funding for outreach and education, interpreter training, and technological research--all necessary to provide VRS for the overwhelming majority of the Deaf individuals who still lack VRS access.

"VRS provides individuals who are Deaf with functionally equivalent telecommunications services. In essence, VRS makes it possible for any Deaf individual with VRS access to place phone calls to hearing individuals in their native American Sign Language (ASL)," said Donalda Ammons, the VRSCA Eastern Regional Manager.

Ammons went on to explain, "The VRSCA organization has banded together to let the FCC know that the proposed rate cuts are not acceptable and that the reductions will harm the Deaf community. It is because of the efforts of the regional representatives, who have spent countless hours explaining the current VRS issue and gathering support to keep the VRS rate stable, that the FCC has received this large response."

"Consumers and other supporters of VRS have done a great job," said Ammons. "But we need to keep up the effort because this issue is not yet decided at the FCC. We need to make sure the FCC knows how important VRS service is to the Deaf community."

Supporters of VRS who are interested in contacting the FCC on this issue need to submit comments by June 30th. Correspondence may be sent via e-mail through the VRSCA Web site.

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