Ensuring captioned telephone services for people with hearing loss


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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently approved a change to the Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) to ensure that this communications service remains available for people with hearing loss, reports the Telecom Reseller.

IP CTS is a form of telecommunications relay service (TRS) that enables people who have hearing loss to both read captions and use their residual hearing to understand telephone conversations. IP CTS is described as a combination of two other forms of TRS: IP Relay and Captioned Telephone Service (CTS). CTS allows a person with hearing loss who can use his or her own voice, and who has some residual hearing, to speak directly to the person they call and then listen to the other party and simultaneously read captions of what is said, when hearing isn’t sufficient to understand meaning.

The relay costs associated with IP CTS are not paid directly by users of the service. Instead, they are paid for entirely by the FCC’s TRS Fund. In recent years, the contribution base supporting the fund has been decreasing, while use of the service has grown exponentially.

To address the problem and ensure that this service remains viable, the FCC set new provider compensation rates to bring rates closer to actual average provider costs. In addition, the commission adopted new rules to limit unnecessary IP CTS use and waste of the TRS Fund. This included setting up a general prohibition on providing IP CTS to ineligible users.

Source: Telecom Reseller; FCC