Led by Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), representatives of consumer organizations joined together to support a federal mandate of captioned telephone services. Joining HLAA at the meeting were American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), Telecommunications for the Deaf and hard of Hearing (TDI), and via phone, California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH). We met with an FCC representative in FCC Chairman Genachowski's office on November 5.
HLAA and others present pointed out that people with hearing loss who use captioned telephones find them to be almost equivalent to traditional telephones. We have heard from some people that it links them once again to friends and family in a way no other relay service can do. However, HLAA expressed frustration at the current system that is dependent on a patchwork of rules and the vagaries of state budgetary and legislative processes. For example, some states significantly limit the number of captioned phones distributed in state and some states will not allow a consumer to use their phone out of state. Consumers who commute out of state for work, or who travel out of state for vacation are unable to use the phone out of their home state. Consumer representatives requested the FCC initiate and complete a rulemaking to mandate captioned telephone relay service nationwide over the public switched telephone network. Consumer representatives left the meeting feeling encouraged about the possibility of a favorable response from the FCC.