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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.



June 27, 2016

THE PIZZERIA’S PHONE rings, but it doesn’t make a sound.
Instead, on the shelf below, green lights flash. Waiters scurry by. A few paces away, a cook with a big wooden paddle shoves pizzas into a bulbous oven. The lights flash again, and Melody Stein picks up.

“Hi, this is Melody from Mozzeria,” she says. “OK, sure thing. What would you like to order?”

Melody is deaf. As are the waiters and the cooks. Yet any one of them can communicate with a hearing person over the phone.

Call Mozzeria and the system will route you, the hearing person, to an interpreter at a “video relay service.” The interpreter listens to what you say and signs it to Melody, who’s watching on the restaurant’s iPad. Then the interpreter speaks Melody’s response back to you. Back and forth, until you’ve placed your order or made your reservation. And if you don’t find that to be absolutely marvelous, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you.

Read more . . . Watch captioned/ signed Video . . . Mozzeria




Deaf and Hard of Hearing Video Relay Service (VRS) Users Invited to participate in an Online Survey about VRS Phones and Software

Your opinion counts: The Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University, in partnership with the Video Access Technology Reference Platform (VATRP) team is conducting an online survey to learn about your wishes and needs for video relay service (VRS) software.The VATRP project is a contract awarded by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop new VRS software. It is a partnership among VTCSecure, TCS Associates, Gallaudet University, and RIT/NTID.Our goal is to understand what features you would like to see in the new VRS software. To do the best job possible, we also want to understand what you currently like about your videophones, and what you currently dislike.

To take this survey you:
1. must be an adult (18 years or older)
2. must be deaf, hard of hearing, or have another form of hearing loss
3. must use video relay services; and
4. must have access to the Internet in order to complete the survey.

Completing the survey will take up to 20 minutes by reading, and up to 40 minutes by using the available videos, depending on how much you use relay services. If you would like to participate in this online survey, please go to  -

Project Manager Shahzad “Shah” Merchant explains why it is important for you to take this voluntary & anonymous survey.

This study has been approved by the Gallaudet University Institutional Review Board.







Thanks to an Email Request

By Lory | October 27, 2014

Original Article . . .

In 2010, when Apple first provided FaceTime to the world on the iPhone 4 one small company dedicated to bridging the communication gap for hearing people and the deaf and hard of hearing decided that they wanted that for their services.

CSDVRS, dubbed “Z” for short, was recently honored at this year’s Tampa Bay Business 100 awards ceremony. The event highlights the 100 largest private companies in Tampa Bay.

In his speech, CEO Sean Belanger detailed how he went about help from Apple for offering the video relay services (VRS) through Facetime. He was working with the program independently, but was struggling with how to merge the feature with the service.

“I sent an email to Steve Jobs, a very concise email about who I was, what I did and we needed help,” Belanger said. “In four days, I get a call from a guy who said ‘I’ve been told to help you, I don’t know why, I don’t know who you are, I work for Apple and I can’t tell you who told me to call you.’ ”

Shortly thereafter, Apple flew three engineers to the company’s headquarters and helped Z get VRS connected with Facetime so that, for the first time ever, a deaf person could communicate on a mobile phone call.

VRS is a service that connects deaf and hard of hearing persons with a hearing person using video calling. In 2010, video calls were not nearly as common as they are now. Many people did not even have that function on their smartphones. So, VRS would have a middleman, or a relay person, that would communicate with the hearing impaired person via video calling, and transmit the words through a regular phone to the recipient.

Facetime made that possible on mobile devices.

Now, video services like Facetime, Google video hangouts, and Skype are on every smartphone. Communication between the deaf and hard of hearing community and the hearing community is much better than ever before thanks to the work of software engineers who just wanted to bring the future to us.



 Thursday, 6/30/2011 

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Vargas & Stein, LLP and Raymond Marshall of Chason, Rosner, Leary & Marshall filed a lawsuit against BB&T Bank in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of the Virginia Association of the Deaf, Inc. (VAD) and a deaf Virginia resident, Melanie Williams. The lawsuit alleges that BB&T’s policy of refusing relay calls is a violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The lawsuit asks the court to order BB&T to adopt a policy where all incoming relay calls from people who are deaf or hard of hearing must be accepted in same extent that they accept telephone calls from hearing customers.

The VAD has a number of members who are customers of BB&T. Along with Ms. Williams, they are unable to access BB&T’s customer service via telephone because BB&T customer service representatives refuse to accept relay services.


More at:

By Marla Dougherty  6/23/11

The people from The Z had the Z Series videophones on display and ready to try out. The Z Series include the Z-20, their newest product which launched two months ago. It has HD clear quality and you can make and receive voice carry over (VCO) calls. It can also be used with a Bluetooth headset.

If you need a videophone that is simple to move around the house, the light weight Z-340 is wireless and can easily move to any location where there is Wi-Fi.  It can be connected to your television for a really big picture!  The Z-Ojo is a plug and play videophone that is capable of taking video messages. It can be  used at home or the office. For more information on the Z Series, visit their website