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May 15, 2004

ACTION ALERT on Video Relay Service

From: NVRC News - May 15, 2004

By Cheryl Heppner, NVRC

Action Alert on Video Relay Service (VRS)


Do you currently use Video Relay Service (VRS)?

It is very important that you take action by 5 pm on May 24, 2004.

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lowered the rate paid for Video Relay Services. Since then consumers have complained about the deteriorating quality of VRS. This includes a cut back in VRS hours, consumers waiting for a long time before a VRS interpreter becomes available, the insufficient level of improvement in VRS technology, and the quality of VRS interpreters.

Limited funding also makes it it much harder for companies to improve VRS to give us clearer video picture, wireless access, and use with Macintosh computers.

Please go to the FCC’s website and and let the FCC know how much we value VRS and the empowering impact it has on your daily life.

Instructions for sending comments online:

- Type (or click on) this address on your web browser:
- Fill out the form in full (except for those identified as “optional.”) Make sure item number 1 is entered in as 98-67.
- Make sure item number 12 says “comment”. If not, scroll down the menu to get “comment.”
- Jump down to the second option, “Send a Brief Comment to FCC (typed-in).”
- Type in your comments inside the box under “Send a Brief Comment to FCC (typed-in).” Be sure to hit enter to move down to the next line after about 70 characters. The box does not have word-wrap. See below for samples.
- Click on “Send Brief Comment to FCC.”
You are welcome to use any of the following samples for your comments
(instruction i):

Sample 1:

Please adopt VRS reimbursement rates that will cover costs for the recruitment and training of qualified interpreters for the VRS environment. Rates should also be adequate to cover further research and development efforts to improve the quality and access of VRS including on how to make VRS satisfy the need of sign language users while making emergency calls.

Sample 2:
VRS is wonderful to use. I want to see it become an important real-time communication service. The VRS is for me closer to functional equivalency than other telecommunications services. Please adopt the appropriate rate and regulatory requirements to ensure the continued development of technology and multi-vendoring of VRS.

Sample 3:
I have seen a decrease in VRS quality and availability. I need VRS to be able to have full telecommunication access at home and at work. Please adopt the appropriate rate and regulatory requirements to ensure full access and quality services to VRS.

Sample 4:
Please do whatever is necessary in order to allow me to access qualified VRS interpreting personnel, thus ensuring language translation accuracy and ability to capture in appropriate visual format the vocal/speech nuances of the hearing party. It is important to have seamless, barrier-free communications with minimal or no lag time, and easy navigation of interactive voice menu systems without need for multiple callbacks.

Sample 5:
Please adopt the appropriate rate and regulatory requirements to ensure full access and quality services to VRS. Research is very important, because sometimes we see choppy video while we use VRS. If we can get clear, smooth transmission, this would save us a lot of time because this would reduce unnecessary repetition and misunderstanding. Thanks.

Please send your email to the FCC by close of business (5 pm) on May 24, 2004. Thank you in advance, your support for this important consumer effort is very much appreciated!

From the National Video Relay Service Coalition
About the National Video Relay Service Coalition: This ad-hoc coalition was formed in response to consumer concerns about the quality of VRS.
Representatives on this coalition include: American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf (CCASD), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Government (DHHIG), National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Telecommunications for the Deaf (TDI).

NVRC News, May15, 2004