Recently, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. We have monitored this legislation’s progress closely at Virginia Relay, as it will have many positive effects on Relay services nationwide.
The Act is the result of years of tireless effort from the Coalition for Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), a coalition of over 300 disability organizations that advocates for full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed, broadband, wireless and other Internet Protocol (IP) technologies.
COAT continues to work closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement the new law and related accessible and affordable technology policy. One of the most immediate ways this law will impact Relay services is that is amends the definition of “relay services” to not just include a phone call between a “non-disabled” person and a user of a Relay service (such as STS, HCO, VCO, etc.), but will now also include a call between two people who are using difference forms of Relay service. For example, a STS user will now be able to call a CapTel user, or a VRS user will be able to call an HCO user, and so on. This is a definite step forward, as it acknowledges all of the new technologies that are now part of Relay service.
Other positive provisions of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act include:
It will take time for all of the benefits of the new law to be implemented and take full effect, but Virginia Relay is looking forward to working closely with COAT and the FCC to help with this process. A more complete summary of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act can be found here: http://www.coataccess.org/node/9776.