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Transition from TTY to Real-Time Text Technology

NVRC Board Members Tom Dowling, Gary Viall, and Alexa Schriempf, and staff member Debbie Jones attended this morning's FCC Open Meeting   There was a great turn out of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Speech Disability consumer organizations!  There were representatives from Gallaudet University, TDI, HLAA, and NAD, to name just a few.

The first item on the agenda for this morning's meeting was the Transition from TTY to Real-Time Text Technology:

The Commission will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to help achieve the transition from TTY technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time text communication over wireless Internet protocol-enabled networks and services.


Real-Time Text Technology (RTT) would replace the old TTY technology for communication over telephone lines and wireless systems, providing real-time, as you type it, text communications for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Speech Disabled consumers.  RTT would be flexible to work on all internet protocol systems and devices, as well as being retro compatible with older TTY devices, until they phase out.  It would also be compatible with 911 systems for emergency calls.

The FCC heard the report  on Real-Time Text Technology, as well as remarks from Bobbi Cordano, President of Gallaudet University. The Commissioners voted to adopt the Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

This means that, moving forward, industries will not limited to making devices compatible with the old TTY technology, and can focus on making RTT interoperable across all devices and IP networks.

(See attached press release)

DOWNLOAD (PDF) - FCC Press Release DOC-342624A1

See pictures of meeting on facebook




On September 29, 2016, the FCC adopted rules to update and strengthen Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), which are alerts that are sent to wireless phones.  The updated rules are intended to promote the wider use and effectiveness of WEA and to make such messages more accessible for individuals with disabilities.

Highlights of the updated rules include: 

  • Increase the maximum length of WEA messages (from 90 to 360 characters) for 4G LTE and future networks;
  • Require participating wireless providers to support inclusion of embedded phone numbers and URLs in all WEA alerts;
  • Require participating wireless providers to deliver the alerts to more specifically targeted geographic areas to avoid “over-alerting”;
  • Create a new class of alerts (“Public Safety Messages”) to convey essential, recommended actions that can save lives or property (e.g. emergency shelter locations or a boil water order);
  • Require participating wireless providers to support transmission of Spanish-language alerts; and
  • Make it easier for state and local authorities to test WEA, train personnel, and raise public awareness about the service.

    The FCC also released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to invite public comment on:






The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the FCC, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on:
September 28, 2016, at 2:20 PM EDT. 

If rescheduling is necessary, the alternate test date is October 5, 2016.

The EAS test is going to be broadcast through these ways:

•             Radio broadcast stations;
•             Television broadcast stations:
•             Cable systems;
•             Wireline video systems;
•             Direct broadcast satellite service providers; and
•             Digital audio radio service providers.

The EAS test will gauge the reliability, accessibility, and effectiveness of the EAS. The emergency test message will be transmitted in English and Spanish via audio and text, which can be used to create an accessible video crawl to ensure that all members of the public will be able to access this emergency test.

The FCC Public Safety Support Center welcomes feedback on the accessibility of this test.  If you observe any problems about this test, or have feedback about the test, please submit your comments at:



On August 4, 2016, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), seeking comment on strengthening the Commission's requirements for the interoperability and portability of video relay services (VRS). 

The Bureau set the deadline for filing comments 21 days after publication of the FNPRM in the Federal Register.  A summary of the FNPRM was published in the Federal Register on August 24, 2016, which established a deadline of September 14, 2016.  The Bureau announced this deadline by Public Notice released on August 25, 2016.

Links to the Public Notice:


Links to the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (corrected):


For more information, contact:  Eliot Greenwald, Disability Rights Office, CGB, at 202-418-2235 or, or Robert Aldrich, CGB, at 202-418-0996  For those using videophones and fluent in American Sign Language, you may call the ASL Consumer Support Line at 844-432-2275.



The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifted the suspension of the conditional certification of InnoCaption to provide Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS).

In April of 2015, CGB suspended InnoCaption’s conditional certification to provide IP CTS because InnoCaption failed to provide 911 calling to emergency services as required by the FCC’s rules.  During the period of suspension, InnoCaption took steps to fix its service so it could handle 911 calls.  In the Order adopted today, CGB concludes that InnoCaption is now capable of handling 911 calls through its IP CTS service in compliance with the FCC’s rules.  As a result, InnoCaption is permitted to resume providing IP CTS.

The link(s) for the document are as follows:

For further information contact Eliot Greenwald at or 202-418-2235.



The FCC’s Media Bureau Announces Comment and Reply Deadlines for Video Navigation Choices NPRM and Establishes Schedule for Ex Parte Meetings

On February 18, 2016, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on proposed rules that will let consumers choose how they wish to access cable and other multichannel video programming.  The NPRM asks about allowing independent consumer electronics manufacturers, innovators, and other developers to build devices (i.e., set-top boxes) or software solutions that can navigate the universe of multichannel video programming.   Among other things, the NPRM seeks comment on implications of these actions for accessibility obligations, such as closed captioning, video description, and accessible user interfaces on set-top boxes that consumers would be able to acquire separately from their cable providers.

The comment dates for this proceeding have now been set:
Comments Due:  April 22, 2016
Reply Comments Due:  May 23, 2016

In addition, the Media Bureau is making the following dates available to meet with interested parties to discuss issues raised in the NPRM as follows:

Dates Set Aside for Ex Parte Meetings with Bureau: June 6-10, 2016

Links to the Public Notice:  


Links to the Video Navigation Choices NPRM:

For more information contact, Brendan Murray,, or Lyle Elder,, of the Media Bureau, Policy Division, (202) 418-2120.



By Chance Miller

Apple recently has filed a new document with the Federal Communications Commission in which it argues that Made for iPhone, or MFi, accessories should be acknowledged by the organization as alternatives for hearing aid compatibility compliance. Recently, the FCC has proposed that all phones and consumer wireless devices must be compatible with hearing aids.

In response to the new proposal from the FCC, Apple says that all products that fall under its MFi hearing aid standards already comply with the FCC’s hearing aid compliance regulations. Apple argues that Made for iPhone hearing aids are already available to consumers everywhere, thus making them a valid alternative to the hearing aid compatibility requirement (via MacReports).

Read more  . . . Apple

Other Related Links
See FCC Filling by APPLE
Apple urges FCC to spike rules for universal compliance with hearing aids
Apple asks FCC to have its Made for iPhone accessories recognized as hearing aid alternatives



Nov 4, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a longstanding commitment to ensuring that Americans with hearing loss are able to access wireline and wireless communications services through a wide array of phones, including voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) telephones and wireless handsets that use advanced mobile technologies. The Commission’s actions in this area have helped enable the millions of Americans with hearing loss to have greater access to and more fully benefit from wireline and wireless communications services and emerging technologies.

In FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), they propose to amend the Commission’s hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules for wireline handsets. Specifically, they propose to take the following actions:

(1) incorporate into the rules a revised industry standard developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) – ANSI/TIA-4965-2012 (2012 ANSI Wireline Volume Control Standard) – that appears likely to improve the ability of people with hearing loss to select wireline telephones with sufficient volume control to meet their communication needs and provide greater regulatory certainty for the industry; and



By Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content
September 25, 2015

Sprint now owes the FCC a hefty chunk of change following the agency’s decision to hit it with a $1.2 million fine. The FCC announced today that it has fined Sprint because the big yellow carrier messed up 911 calls for hearing-impaired citizens for a six-month period.

From March 28 through September 18 of 2014, Sprint customers using the Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) were unable to make calls to 911. If they tried using the service, which provides a sort of closed captioning to . . .

Read More  . . . Sprint


Initiative to Ease ASL Users' Communication With Government

Multichannel News
By: John Eggerton
August 20,2015

WASHINGTON -- Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler wants to give people with disabilities a hand. Make that two hands, and in the process, a stronger voice.

Wheeler plans to announce today at the TDI Conference in Baltimore that the FCC is making available an open-source video platform to make it easier for the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind community to communicate with federal agencies and businesses in American Sign Language (ASL).   “It is time for people who speak with their hands and hear with their eyes to enjoy modern advancements in communications technologies,” Wheeler planned to tell the conference, according to the commission, which announced the initiative in tandem with the speech.

“It’s time for you to be able to have your video products work together, so you can call whomever you wish, whenever you wish, from anywhere. The platform we are launching has tremendous potential to ensure that you will be able to do this.”

The FCC already has a direct video system -- it was the first federal agency to use interactive video to give the deaf and hard-of-hearing access to ASL consumer support, an agency spokesperson said -- as does the Small Business Administration. The Census Bureau, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the City of New York have all announced plans to use such a system.

Read more   . . . 



by Joshua Guyan

AT&T submitted a Petition for Rulemaking to the FCC, requesting that the Commission update its rules requiring support for text telephone (TTY) technology.  The petition asks the FCC to launch a proceeding to recognize real-time text (RTT) as an acceptable alternative to TTY under the Commission’s accessibility rules and, in the interim, AT&T is seeking a waiver to allow it to deploy IP (Internet protocol)-based voice services without support for TTY.

TTY technology has long been used to enable individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate by typing messages on TTY devices that are transmitted over telephone lines to TTY devices at the receiving end.  Currently, TTY compatibility is required for a variety of communications services under the FCC’s accessibility rules.  The petition argues that TTY technology is outdated and incompatible with increasingly prevalent Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.  Newer RTT communication has the advantages of interoperability with IP networks and instantaneous transmission that allows for interactive conversations.

By developing RTT so that it is interoperable with TTY, and permitting RTT to be used as an acceptable alternative to TTY, the petition argues that service providers and device manufacturers would be able to choose the accessibility method that works best for their service.  The petition posits that ultimately, RTT will fully replace the use TTY.


Original Article

Related resources:


On June 22, 2015, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released a Public Notice announcing the funding allocations for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for the 2015-2016 Fund year.  The NDBEDP is a program mandated by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that provides up to $10 million annually for the distribution of communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.

Links to the Public Notice:

For further information, contact the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office:  Jackie Ellington at 202-418-1153; or Rosaline Crawford at 202-418-2075 or



May 29, 2015
Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Institute for the Deaf has been tapped for its expertise by the Federal Communications Commission, RIT leaders said.

The Center on Access Technology Innovation Lab at NTID has been named the major technical subcontractor in a partnership with VTCSecure LLC.

The team will develop a video access technology reference platform, designed to advance telecommunications access for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled populations in the United States. NTID will provide technology support as well as alpha and beta testing.




CONTACT: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Markey Applauds FCC Extension of iCanConnect

Program brings free 21st century communications technologies to low income Americans with combined vision and hearing loss

Washington (May 21, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today praised the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) for extending iCanConnect, a pilot program that provides free access to 21st century communication technologies to low-income Americans with significant combined hearing and vision loss. Senator Markey is the House author of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that established the iCanConnect program.

“Today’s decision by the FCC is an important step forward so that all Americans can participate in our increasingly interconnected world,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Deaf-blind Americans face unique communications challenges, and iCanConnect ensures that they are able to utilize communications services and equipment fully. I look forward to working with the FCC to make iCanConnect permanent so that all Americans can access the opportunities that come from 21st century communications technologies.”

iCanConnect ensures access to tools such as specialized keyboards and computer monitors, braille devices, phones with amplified speakers and software that enables screen readers and braille displays.

Passed in 2010, the CVAA mandates accessibility of devices and services for the 54 million Americans with disabilities and enabled the use of a wide range of devices and services needed in the digital era, including smart phones for accessing the Internet, closed captioning for online video, audio descriptions of television programming, audible emergency alerts and other technologies.




Washington, D.C. – In honor of Older Americans Month, the Federal Communications Commission is launching a series of webinars to help seniors fully engage in using broadband-enabled communications technology to improve their quality of life. The first webinar - titled “Get into the Act…Online” - will be held Thursday, May 28, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EDT). Upcoming webinars will address digital literacy, broadband adoption and other issues affecting older Americans.