Accessible Emergency Notification and Communication:
Research and Policy Recommendations
work is funded by the National Institute on Disability and
Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education,
under grant number H133E040013.
opinions and content are those of the grantees and do not necessarily
represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education
to reproduce in whole or in part with acknowledgment is provided.
and PDF versions of this report can be found at http://tap.gallaudet.edu/emergency/nov05conference/emergency-research.asp
2006 Copyright Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on
University and University of Wisconsin-Madison
faculty and staff of the RERC on Telecommunications Access express
their appreciation to the conference presenters, advisors, and
Our conference presenters:
Colwell, Ultratec, Inc.
DuBois, Combustion Science and Engineering, Inc.
K. Fernandes, Gallaudet University
Harkins, Gallaudet University
Heppner, Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of
Hlibok, Federal Communications Commission
Maddix, Sorenson Communications
Marzolf, Virginia Information Technologies Agency
Mather, U.S. Department of Justice
Morton, Gallaudet University
Pramuk, Gallaudet University
Putkovich, U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
Sajka, Capital Accessibility, Inc.
Singleton, U.S. Dept. of Defense
Starling, National Public Radio
W. Sutherland, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
Vanderheiden, Trace Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Bart, Senior Vice President for Standards and Special Projects,
Telecommunications Industry Association
Goldberg, Director, Media Access Group, WGBH
Heppner, Executive Director, Northern Virginia Resource Center
for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons
Mitchell, Director, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
on Wireless Technologies, Georgia Centers for Advanced
National Organization on Disability and TVWorldWide video-recorded
the conference and made the web archive available at http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/nod/051102/default.cfm.
conference was sponsored by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research
Center on Telecommunications Access, a partnership between the
Technology Access Program of Gallaudet University and the Trace
Center of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This work is
funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research (NIDRR) in the U.S. Department of Education, under grant
number H133E040013. However, the opinions and content are those of
the grantees; they do not necessarily represent the policy of the
U.S. Department of Education, and endorsement by the Federal
government should not be assumed.
Harkins, Director, Technology Access Program, Gallaudet
Co-PI, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
(RERC) on Telecommunications Access
Trace R & D Center, University of
Wisconsin–Madison Co-PI, Rehabilitation Engineering Research
Center (RERC) on Telecommunications Access
E. Tucker, Research Associate, Technology Access Program,
The “Accessible Emergency
Notification and Communication: State of the Science Conference”
was held at Gallaudet University’s Kellogg Conference Center
Hotel on November 2–3, 2005. The 160 participants came from
state, local and federal government agencies; consumer groups;
communications companies; telecommunications relay service providers;
and research and consulting groups. The conference was video-recorded
courtesy of the National Organization on Disability and TVWorldWide.
The captioned video archive can currently be found at http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/nod/051102/default.cfm.
The print materials from the conference, including speakers’
remarks or written summaries, can be found at: http://tap.gallaudet.edu/emergency/nov05conference/emergency-research.asp.
A resource page containing reports of other organizations regarding
emergency communications and disability can be found at: http://tap.gallaudet.edu/emergency/nov05conference/emergency-resources.asp.
conference program was designed to cover as many issues as possible
pertaining to technology and emergency communications for people with
disabilities. Topics of sessions of the conference were:
- Accessibility tools and gaps
- Government activities on accessible
- Broadcast media notification
- Alerting and communication in
facilities and campuses
communication—interfaces and networks
- Policy and technology for access to
- Relay services in emergency
- Emergency alerting through email,
wireless devices, the Emergency Alert System, and emergency
telephone notification systems
- Coping with severe communications
infrastructure loss in times of disaster
Guiding the development of the program
were documents on consumer needs, suggestions from an expert advisory
group, and a framework that was developed by the Global Standards
Committee, in which the Telecommunications Industry Association is
the U.S.-designated representative. The GSC partitioned the large and
complex realm of emergency communications into four general areas:
1. Government to government:
Intra- and inter-governmental
communications for the purpose of emergency management.
2. Government to individual (or organization):
Official government sources
communicating with the public. This includes government-initiated
alerting to an emergency, recovery information, and other urgent
communications and one-way information from official sources.
3. Individual to government:
Requesting help or information from
official government sources, agencies; reporting problems. Examples
include 9–1–1 and toll free numbers advertised by FEMA.
4. Individual to individual:
Private communications between and
among individuals and groups for the purpose of helping each other;
finding children or other family members (or persons in one’s
care); providing egress information to people at work, in stores, and
other public places; and many other types of communications.
State of the Science Conference addressed areas 2, 3, and 4 as having
the greatest impact on people with disabilities. These three
categories are used as a basis for organizing the research, training,
and policy recommendations presented here.
of the goals of the conference was to develop a list of research
topics that can be helpful to funding agencies and businesses that
are considering how to use research dollars to improve access to
emergency communications. This document lists research topics that
were specifically mentioned at the conference, provided as written
comments by participants, or derived from the information and issues
raised. A list of suggestions for information and training projects
as well as policy recommendations based on conference information are
also included. The recommendations do reflect the authors’
judgments and attempts to summarize; therefore this should not be
considered a consensus document from the conference. The
recommendations are geared toward accessibility issues. We did not
include other research topics that have general application to
emergency communications, although some of these would also benefit
people with disabilities along with everyone else.
Accessibility of Mainstream Personal Technologies
Used for Communications and Information
Development of techniques to make mainstream technologies used for
notification and communication usable by people with disabilities. Problems include inability to use without vision, lack of text
communication features and phone complexity. Technology accessibility
affects the ability of people with disabilities to be notified of
important information prior to and during an emergency and during
recovery; and to engage in emergency communications. If the basic
technologies are not accessible, then emergency and recovery messages
will be missed and people will be prevented from communicating in
order to seek help or give help to others.
Inclusion of disability access in research on next generation
emergency notification technologies. Researchers that are specializing in projects on emergency
communications have an obligation to coordinate with researchers
working on the broader accessibility issues, as sometimes these two
Development of accessible communications devices for persons who are
deaf-blind. At our conference, the limitations in accessibility of current
technology vis-à-vis deaf-blind persons were a particular
concern. Most in this group have visual and hearing impairments that
prevent them from being able to use television, radio, or cell
phones. Thus they cannot use typical visual or auditory warning and
communication devices. This group is growing in size as the U.S.
Research, Development, Evaluation, and Technical
Assistance Targeted at Accessible Emergency Communication Systems
Conduct a systems engineering analysis to determine:
- Needs regarding emergency
communications, including coverage at various times of day and for
various types of emergency situations.
- Capabilities assessment, including
evaluation of performance under load.
- Requirements analysis and
assumptions, including requirements matrix (specifications which can
be realized in solutions/products).
- Long-term solutions and not merely
Assess accessibility of current and proposed/planned emergency
notification and communications, particularly during situations where people with disabilities are
disproportionately vulnerable to missing alerts or information, and
target research and standards development there. Some examples of
situations where individuals with disabilities would be particularly
vulnerable in emergencies:
- while driving if unable to listen to
radio or call 9–1–1;
- while sleeping if unable to hear
- while out in a public place if unable
to see what others are doing or hear what they are saying;
- in a power outage if dependent mainly
or solely on a computer for communications and information;
- in any situation if deaf-blind.
Gather information, using regional expertise of both consumers and
emergency management personnel, on successfully providing accessible
and timely communications during various types of emergencies. Document best practices and recommend models for federal, state and
local governments to follow.
R–7. Sponsor participation of accessibility
technical experts in emergency communications standards and guideline
development, and in industry and government advisory groups.
- wireless technology consortia
developing specifications for location-based notification
- government’s integrated Public
Alert and Warning System (iPAWS)
- 9–1–1 government/industry
partnerships addressing technology migration
Development of methods to apply advanced technologies such as
intelligent agents to automatically ensure emergency information
generated in one format is available in all formats. Such technologies could also be applied to simplify complex messages
to reduce cognitive load.
Conduct lab and field tests of promising technologies for improved
accessibility of emergency communications, working with partners in
the public and private sectors and involving people with
disabilities. In particular, assessments need to be made to determine the extent to
which the various methods of information delivery being considered in
projects being coordinated by FEMA as well as local governments’
systems, will achieve accessibility.
Government to Individual Communications and
Broadcast Coverage of Emergencies
Research the concept of streaming text over radio data channels to
deliver emergency text messages through radio displays. Radio is frequently depended upon by the public for emergency and
recovery information, particularly when driving or when there is an
extended power outage. Radio is inaccessible to people who are deaf
and some who are hard of hearing.
Develop technology for conversion of text-based information to
auditory information, such as text displayed on television screens
during emergencies (e.g., school closing information and local telephone numbers to call
for help). (Note: This area of research is being funded by NIDRR
through a Field Initiated Research grant to WGBH.)
Assess commercial products that perform emergency telephone
notification functions (“reverse
9–1–1”) against a list of accessibility features
needed for people with disabilities and publish the information in an
accessible format on the web and promote its availability to local
and state governments, professional associations, industry trade
associations, and disability organizations.
Determine the most effective way of making EAS television alerts
accessible to people who are blind. Current methods provide only an audio alert squawk, and not spoken
information, when the television distributor sends the message in
text only. The audio alert is sometimes accompanied by a spoken
direction to tune to another channel, but the emergency information
is not necessarily provided on that other channel. (Note: This issue
is being considered by the FCC at this time, although no research is
being carried out. Policy recommendations regarding the EAS can be
found in the next section of this report.)
Evaluate speech recognition technology for the specific application
of automatically and accurately transcribing audio messages when
spoken announcements are made, e.g., in public places such as airports and for automated telephone
notification systems. If the additional step of separately typing in
messages is required during an emergency, there is a greater
likelihood that it will not happen and a text version will not be
Address technical problems in timeliness of message delivery, spam
filters terminating emergency messages, and other issues that can
affect whether people with disabilities obtain emergency information. Although these problems are shared by non-disabled people, mobile
email is more relied upon by people with hearing disabilities than
those without disabilities.
Research liability issues with non-emergency service providers that
are in the path between the alerting organization and the public. Examples:
wireless carriers, other servers of information. Liability issues may
hamper the ability of local governments to work with carriers to
provide highly localized alerts (e.g., chemical spill, road closure)
to wireless users. If legal barriers would present problems, these
would need to be addressed.
If national and satellite radio takes over much of the broadcast
radio market, research techniques for getting local alerts while
listening to national/satellite radio. Radio is often the first place people who are blind will seek
information. Competition from national radio sources may change the
marketplace for radio. The accessibility implication is that local
emergency information may be harder to come by via radio.
R–18. Research use of streaming video to
mobile devices that can support video for sign language alert and
Assess accessibility of NOAA Weather Radios on the market to people with visual disabilities including deaf-blind
Individual to Government Communications
Study technologies and operational procedures for network security
and control during emergencies that can hamper access to useful technologies such as video and text.
For example, email alerts are already losing effectiveness due to
spam control procedures and a lack of priority setting for email.
Video and instant messaging are often disallowed or blocked by
firewalls in many organizations. Recommend solutions to these
Build in accessibility to planned changes in 9–1–1
architectures. The migration of the nation’s Public Safety Answering Points
(PSAPs) to packet-switched technologies is a wonderful opportunity
for better accessibility. But if accessibility concerns are not
considered, it could be a missed opportunity. In this endeavor, NIDRR
could coordinate and perhaps co-fund projects with the U.S.
Department of Transportation, which has been designated the point
agency for the development and testing of next-generation technology
for 9–1–1.) PSAPs need to be able to receive voice, data
or video transmissions in real-time, and then be able to pass along
the information received to specific emergency responder networks.
Technology coordination is needed so that accessibility occurs
shoulder to shoulder with upgrades to 9–1–1, without
repeated changes to PSAP requirements overtime.
Study methods for TTY functionality in wireless PDAs and other methods that may be short term solutions to E9–1–1
access with mobile location-finding and coverage equal to that of
voice users. The TTY devices on the market are quite large and not
really mobile devices, so they are not being used by deaf people. In
contrast, wireless PDAs using Internet-based services are widely
used. Companies should build TTY functionality into phone devices
that have QWERTY keyboards so that direct calls to 9–1–1
are possible without any specialized equipment. The networks already
support TTY; this is a last step to achieving direct 9–1–1
access in the short term.
Study and demonstrate options and issues for relay services’
9–1–1 calls. Research in this area could provide informed decisions for call
handling in the future and may enable improved handling of relayed
calls to 9–1–1. Recent FCC rules indicate that new forms
of relay services will soon be required to handle 9–1–1
calls. Research investment is needed to move this area ahead quickly,
as many text users have abandoned the PSTN and TTY due to the
availability of text and video over broadband. IP-based and video
relay centers need to be able to determine the correct PSAP, based on
the caller’s locations, and be capable of exchanging
information with PSAPs. IP-based forms of speech-to-speech relay
service and CapTel are forthcoming; these also will need to be
compatible with 9–1–1. Tests of this concept, as well as
one-step calling might include the use of one or more specialized
relay centers for routing and relaying these calls.
Demonstrate and evaluate methods of connection and call handling to
9–1–1 using IP text and IP-based relay services. For direct calling to 9–1–1 by people who cannot use the
voice phone, continued support of standard, reliable and
interoperable real-time text communication will be needed. However,
the antiquated TTY technology of the PSTN should not be perpetuated
in new systems that operate over IP networks.
(including residential situations and
communications within facilities and campuses)
Research effective and accessible methods of communicating egress or
shelter instructions in buildings and building complexes. There are basically two situations: one in which the person being
alerted has some relationship to the building, such as an employee or
a student, and the building management can to some degree control the
situation; and one in which people are transient, such as stores,
restaurants, rail stations, or airports. One concern is that with
more threats of terrorism and biohazard incidents, we do not have
ways to communicate directions to people with disabilities in an
emergency: exit, shelter in place, move to another area, etc. Another
concern is that, even for routine egress, better use of technology
could be made to signal the direction to exit if a person cannot see,
as a result of blindness or smoke in the building.
Study and evaluate technologies for finding people with hearing
and/or speech disabilities in a collapsed structure or other rescue
situations where speech and hearing would routinely be used to communicate
between rescuer and rescuee, for example, after an earthquake or bomb
Study methods of awakening people with hearing disabilities while
sleeping. Recent research involving awakening people from sleep indicates that
guidelines for accessibility are inadequate for awakening a large
percentage of people who cannot hear or cannot hear well. Further
study should include additional signals (such as low or variable
frequency sounds); and specific products and technologies should be
evaluated against these requirements. The possibility that some
persons could sleep through vibrations or other signals after
habituation should be studied. Guidelines may need to be changed as a
result of this research.
Improve alerting interfaces; Implement standard connections in
emergency systems for external flashing/loud audio/vibrating devices. Develop and transfer to the private sector a portable vibrating
alerting device with standard connector and battery backup. This
simple type of device would permit people who cannot be alerted by an
auditory signal to move from location to location and plug in a
vibrating device to an alarm.
Study human factors issues related to audio alerting and hard of
hearing people while awake. For example, people who have progressive hearing loss and who may not
be attuned to seeking visual information, due to age or late onset of
disability. What are the most effective forms of audio alerts?
Study human factors issues around alerting people who are deaf-blind. Deaf-blind people are not served by most technologies that are on the
market. Special attention needs to be paid to emergency
communications access for people who are deaf-blind, and for whom
most communications technologies are inaccessible.
Study information needs and communication specific to certain
disability groups and identify effective practices for peer-oriented
communications and help. Networking and self-help within disability groups has been an
important recovery tool during severe and widespread disasters such
as hurricanes Katrina and Rita. What specialized emergency
information is needed by people with various disabilities in an
emergency? How and by whom does such information get produced now and
how should it be produced in the future? How can such information
best be delivered? What role should non-profit relief organizations
have, and how can they coordinate and work with disability-specific
groups? Should institutions serving specific groups effectively
(e.g., state schools for deaf children) have official roles as
Demonstrate and test the use of IVR (Interactive Voice Response – telephone menus) to make
emergency information on the web more accessible to people when not
in the presence of a computer or smartphone, and to make the
information more easily and universally accessible to people who are
blind. For example, a blind person could dial a phone number, listen
to a list of categories and chose the topic of interest to receive
the State of the Science Conference did not explicitly address
non-research initiatives, several recommendations were raised during
the conference. Implicit in all recommendations is that people with
disabilities must be involved in the planning, training, and
implementation of these initiatives.
Develop recommendations for technical and production strategies for
local television stations to make emergency information accessible; promote these to the television industry as guidelines. Examples:
making advance arrangements for remote real-time captioning and
equipment; and promoting methods of providing on-screen information
in audio format for access by people who are blind.
Train emergency management personnel in
emergency communications involving people with disabilities.
Train people with disabilities on preparedness, and also on emergency management and sharing of best practices for
advocates at state and local levels. Special efforts should be made
to train deaf-blind individuals, who remain largely without any
Develop special information and training projects addressing
deaf-blind access to emergency communications as well as other aspects of emergency
Develop more/sustained information projects on emergency management
and preparedness for people with disabilities including information on specific technologies to provide accessible
communications during emergencies, updated on a regular basis.
People with disabilities must be represented in any working groups addressing emergency communications.
Companies need to make greater efforts to ensure that their user
interfaces are accessible to all people with disabilities. Although this is already required for telecommunications products and
services (under Section 255 of the Communications Act), the
proliferation of soft buttons and on-screen menus on wireless and
other telecommunications devices, without accessibility provisions,
shows that this mandate is often disregarded. In addition, policy
changes are needed to require accessible interfaces on televisions,
computers, radios, and Web-enabled devices, which may not be
presently covered by federal law.
P–3. Funding for both emergency
communications and accessible telecommunications access has
historically been tied to universal-type funding mechanisms that are
supported by telephone companies. As our nation transitions away from
traditional telephone networks and toward Internet-based
communication systems, funding
to support these emergency and accessibility programs must come from
VoIP providers and other companies that provide services over the
should be handled in the main proceedings or projects of an agency
regarding emergency communications, not after the fact. In some cases requiring technology coordination, there may need to be
an integrated proceeding to fix accessibility problems.
Individual Communications and Broadcast Coverage of Emergencies
Fund NOAA Weather Radio infrastructure upgrade to provide text servers that will allow full text messages to be
displayed on accessible NOAA Weather Radios. Currently the NOAA
Weather Radio system provides full information in audio format but
very limited information in text format, because the infrastructure
is lacking to take the original message (which was produced in text)
and broadcast it as text as well as in synthetic speech.
P–6. The Common Alerting
Protocol (CAP), although not an assurance of message accessibility in
itself, provides a needed framework for multi-modal messages that are
essential for accessibility. The
CAP should be acquired in implementation of all systems used by
federal, state, and local governments for alerting.
P–7. The Emergency Alert System
(EAS) is currently used only to deliver emergency information through
broadcast (TV and radio) and cable service media. New rules will
extend EAS obligations to digital television and radio, satellite
television and radio, and digital cable. The
FCC needs to complete its recently released further notice of
proposed rulemaking to ascertain how this system can also be used to deliver content via
other transmission protocols, including the Internet, relay services,
and wireless based systems.
The integrated Public Alert and Warning System (iPAWS) should have
specific guidelines for implementation that include accessibility
provisions. Testing of all technologies must include people with disabilities as
recipients of messages.
The FCC’s current rules on the provision of emergency
information to people who are blind and visually disabled only
require an audible tone, designed to alert individuals that an emergency exists. Those
individuals are then expected to obtain additional information
elsewhere (e.g., via a radio broadcast). The FCC needs to improve
these rules to ensure that access by this population of individuals
is equal to what is afforded individuals without vision disabilities.
One possibility is to send audio emergency alerts over the second
P–10. Although the Decoder
Circuitry Act of 1990 requires captioning capability on all
televisions with screens larger than 13 inches, and on any television
receiver (of any size) that provides digital programming, newer
devices, including battery-operated TVs, cell phones and PDAs that
have not traditionally been defined as “television apparatus”
are now beginning to receive television signals. These PDAs,
cellphones, etc., have the ability to clearly present text and need
to be capable of receiving and displaying captions, especially in the
event of an emergency. A legislative change may be needed to make this possible.
The FCC has to take a more proactive role in enforcing its rules on
visual access to televised emergency programming (contained at 47 C.F.R. [[section]]79.2). While enforcement has
improved over the past year, compliance remains inadequate. One
option is for the FCC to conduct regular compliance reviews of local
stations around the country. Similarly, the FCC needs to improve
enforcement of its digital captioning rules. Although these rules now
require all new digital programming to have captions, consumers
report that most programming providers are not fulfilling this
The Department of Justice (DOJ) should clarify that where emergency
telephone notification systems (“reverse 9–1–1”)
are used by local and state governments, these must be capable of contacting people with disabilities,
including people with hearing loss, either by TTY or other means that
have yet to be determined under Title II of the ADA.
Improved DOJ enforcement is needed to ensure that emergency
information is available in accessible formats to people with
has been considerable frustration with the fact that 15 years after
the ADA was enacted, many state and local governments are still not
making the information that they disseminate in emergencies
accessible, as is required by Title II of the ADA. Similarly, Section
504 is not always being followed by the federal government, although
in some cases significant work toward equal alerting of employees and
citizens has been done.
Stronger enforcement of requirements that emergency information
posted on the Web be accessible. Increasingly,
people are turning to the Web for information in an emergency. Yet
this is the time when accessibility is often dispensed with. Given
that most other channels are often not accessible, this is a key
resource, and must be made accessible.
Individual to Government Communications
Achieve improved coordination among 9–1–1 PSAPs, perhaps through a quasi-federal 9–1–1 office that would
promote standardized call routing, accurate and consistent 9–1–1
databases and the dissemination of information to local PSAPs to
encourage utilization of upgraded technology.
The Department of Justice needs to conduct a thorough review of its
9–1–1 Title II rules (under
the ADA) to bring these in line with advanced telecommunications
technologies. These rules, while comprehensive for TTY access, do not
impose any obligations on PSAPs to receive IP-based calls, pages, or
calls using other advanced text and video technologies. This review
should be in conjunction with the FCC’s own review of emergency
access by people with disabilities, and should be coordinated with
the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and
Individuals with Disabilities at the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security. Once changes are made to its Title II rules, DOJ should
incorporate any new functional requirements into its Project Civic
Access compliance reviews of state and local governmental programs.
These reviews are conducted to achieve compliance by these
governments with the Title II mandates.
Solutions for the handling of emergency relay calls need to be
developed by Internet and video relay service providers. The FCC needs to consider various options, including possible
registration by all users of these services, consistent with what is
required of VoIP users.
Either Congress or the FCC should extend the requirements of Section
255 of the Telecommunications Act to information service providers,
and more specifically to VoIP providers, so that these entities are
required to provide accessible emergency services to people with
disabilities. As deaf people steadily abandon their TTYs, they are losing their
existing means of directly contacting and having interaction with
9–1–1 services. The provision of real-time text over
wireless devices would resolve this problem. This can be pursued
through voluntary cooperation by the industry or via an FCC mandate.
One option is for the FCC to open a rulemaking proceeding to define
the obligations of VoIP providers as 9–1–1 access by
people with hearing loss migrates from the public switched telephone
network to Internet-based services.
(including residential situations and
communications with facilities and campuses)
The Americans with Disabilities Act’s Architectural Guidelines
do not adequately address the need for both audio and visual
information (e.g., audio beacon, visual displays corresponding to
audio information) during emergencies. Spoken messages and emergency telephone notification systems (phone
calls to the desktop) are increasingly used in facilities and
campuses without a visual counterpart. Public address speaker quality
in these systems is often too low for even people with mild hearing
loss to understand reliably. New guidelines are needed.
The FCC should adopt policy changes to ensure that users of emerging
technologies, such as IP-based text and video technologies, have
identifiable end-user points to enable call-backs from PSAPs and
emergency telephone notifications (“reverse
9–1–1” calls). VoIP systems are now being connected
to the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Connecting text and
video based callers to the NANP (by assigning them end-user numbers)
would be one solution to this problem. (The FCC already has an open
rulemaking proceeding to consider the use of proxy numbers for video
relay users to allow such callbacks.)
P–21. The FCC recently required
interoperability across video relay providers to enable relay users
to place calls through any relay provider regardless of the equipment
that they have. However, competing video protocols, such as SIP and
H.323, continue to raise concerns about the interoperability of both
video relay services and peer-to-peer video services. Similar issues
exist in IP text relay where there are no standards. Basic
technical standards are needed to ensure that video and text users
can access each other, regardless of the transmission protocol that
Federal policy (through regulation or legislation) needs to require
that text and video communications be able to pass-through wherever
voice can pass through. This
policy would eliminate current problems with firewalls and other
technologies that currently block text or video communications.
P–23. At present, universal
service programs subsidize only basic telephone service. Two
universal service programs, Lifeline and Link-up, provide direct
subsidies for low income individuals so that they may hook up their
telephones and receive telephone service at a reduced cost. Insofar
as deaf people are increasingly relying on broadband-based and mobile
services rather than services over the traditional telephone network,
these individuals should be given the option of using funds available
through these programs for these more advanced communication
technologies. This would require a legislative change.
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