Fall 2013

Welcome new FCC Chairman - Important Information

by Sharon Hayes, VRSCA Director

A new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been appointed recently: Tom Wheeler. His recent appointment gives each of us an opportunity to inform him about what we want for Video Relay Service (VRS) communication.

VRSCA thinks there are three things that the new FCC Chairman should be aware of when making decisions that affect communication access technology for the deaf.

  • First, recent FCC orders run counter to the basic principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and threaten the long-term viability of the most important telecommunication services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • Second, the ADA clearly specifies that the needs of individuals with disabilities be considered first, before the needs of those providing the accommodation. Therefore, there should not be artificial barriers or caps on the amount of money spent on functionally-equivalent access and technologies.
  • And third, the FCC has been talking about fraud in relay services. Combating any fraud is commendable. However, defending fraud cannot be used as an excuse to infringe on the rights and needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. We have waited long enough to have 100 percent functionally-equivalent access.

VRSCA gathered more than 1,200 signatures from U.S. consumers who use VRS. The signatures supported a letter indicating the importance of maintaining VRS as we know it. VRSCA hopes to deliver the letter to Chairman Wheeler in person sometime in January. Let’s all welcome the new FCC Chairman Wheeler by sending him a congratulatory letter or email. Visit for the addresses to write to the FCC.

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