Eye on Washington
Make Videophones Equal to Telephones
July 26, 2006 — Vol. 5, No. 4
By Kelby N. Brick, Esq.
Director, NAD Law and Advocacy
I hope your summer has been going well. For many, summer is a time of fun, relaxation and a leisurely pace. I wish that was true here at the NAD, but the work for equality never stops. Many things have happened in July, starting with the 2006 NAD Conference. Check out our website for an overview of what happened at the Conference at:
In this email, I want to talk about three things that the NAD has been working hard on-and how you all can help make a difference.
Ten digit phone numbers for all videophone users
The NAD and other consumer organizations strongly believe that all video phone users should be part of the same system as voice phone users. By connecting all devices and services (videophones, voice phones, captioned telephones, and various forms of relay services) to the ten digit phone numbering system and database, all users will be able to connect directly to each other without any extensions or special telephone numbers or IP addresses.
The FCC is seeking comments on the use of a numbering system for Video Relay Services (VRS). The NAD, along with other consumer groups has argued that the FCC should require that all relay service providers provide ten digit geographic telephone numbers to videophone users that are reachable from regular telephone systems. This is a continuation of long-time NAD efforts to get the FCC to connect deaf and hard of hearing users to the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) and make ten digit phone numbers available to such users.
We need to persuade the FCC to agree to set up a system. It is not complicated. We need YOU to tell the FCC to do this! It is easy for you to take action! For more information and to take action, just go to:
I am also excited to announce the first NAD action alert website video. This video will also explain this issue further. You can find the video online at:
Accessibility of videophones and internet videos
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up floor consideration of the Advanced Telecommunications and Opportunity Reform Act (Stevens-Inouye), S. 2686, some time in July or August. The NAD worked closely with other consumer organizations to successfully include disability access legislation into this bill. It would extend Section 255 (accessibility of telecommunications products and services) to Internet-based communications, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Today, Section 255 only applies to traditional landline or wireless phone service. The bill also takes important steps to ensure a good future for the Universal Service Fund (USF) that keeps phone rates low, especially in rural areas. And the bill would outlaw “locking you in” by Video Relay Service (VRS) providers that tie your relay service to their own proprietary equipment and software. In fact, the disability provisions in Senate bill are superior to those in the House bill (HR 5252) that was passe
d a month ago.
Tell your Senators that the disability provisions in the Stevens-Inouye bill are important to you.
If you took action on this telecommuniations action item before July 17, 2006, you supported the House bill and urged the Sentate to propose a bill. Now things have changed and we need you to support the new Senate bill that has been proposed! You can connect directly to your Senators and urge them to support the Senate bill at:
Funding for important programs
Congress will be leaving town soon for summer vacation, returning for a short time to finish work early so that they can campaign for the 2006 elections. The U.S. House has completed action on 10 of its 11 appropriations bills for Federal Fiscal Year 2007 (which begins October 1, 2006) — except for the Education/Labor/HHS appropriations bill. The Senate has finished six of its bills — and the Education/Labor/HHS is also one of the bills not yet acted upon.
The Education/Labor/HHS appropriations bills are very important to the NAD. These bills appropriate funds for the programs most important to our community — IDEA (special education), Rehabilitation, Gallaudet, NTID, and much more.
Tell your elected officials that disability programs need to be adequately funded. You can contact your elected officials and tell them to finish their work now before they go on vacation at:
The NAD will continue to work hard on those three issues and many other areas of importance to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. However, we can’t do it alone. We need your help. You can make a difference. Please join us in making a difference!
Thank you for caring!
Onwards and Upwards!
About the NAD
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), founded in 1880, safeguards the civil rights of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. As a national federation of state association, organizational and corporate affiliates, the advocacy work of the NAD encompasses a broad spectrum of areas including, but not limited to, accessibility, education, employment, healthcare, mental health, rehabilitation, technology, telecommunications, and transportation.
National Association of the Deaf
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819
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