FCC Proposes Rule Requiring Real-Time Text Capability
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a proposed rule on May 25, 2016 that would require wireless phones and other communications devices to support real-time text services so that people with disabilities have equal access to wireless phone communication. The proposal would recognize real-time text as a replacement technology for text telephones (or TTYs) on wireless phone networks and seeks information on applying this requirement to IP-based landline phone networks as well.
Real-time text functionality improves access for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments by allowing text messages to display immediately as they are typed instead of after a message is sent. This instant display provides the immediacy common to most forms of communication and is especially important during 911 and other emergency calls. The FCC has waived, upon request, its requirements for TTY support capabilities for wireless carriers that provide real-time text services on their wireless IP networks. The proposed rule would authorize the industry-wide substitution of real-time text for TTY technology to meet accessibility requirements on wireless networks while ensuring that real-time text interfaces effectively with TTYs. In addition, the proposed rule addresses interoperability measures to integrate real-time text services across communications systems, essential functionalities that must be supported, full support of 911 emergency communications, and compatibility with screen readers and other assistive technologies.
The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is July 11, 2016 and reply comments are due July 25, 2016. For further information, visit the FCC’s website or contact Suzy Rosen Singleton at (202) 510-9446, [email protected] or Robert Aldrich at (202) 418-0996, [email protected]