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Eliminating Abuse in VRS: New Rules from FCC

Eliminating Abuse in Video Relay Services: New Rules from FCC

Last week, in a slew of orders issued by the FCC, one Order focused on
comprehensive reform of the rules for video relay services (VRS). The Order
will eliminate some of the waste, fraud and abuse that has plagued this
valuable form of relay service used extensively by people who are deaf and
hard-of-hearing. In the Order, the FCC adopted rules and also issued a
further notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments on proposed
additional modifications to the certification procedure. Highlights of the
new Report & Order & FNPRM:

* Requires VRS providers to submit a statement describing the location and
staffing of their call centers twice a year, and a notification at least 30
days prior to any change in the location of such centers;

* Prohibits VRS Communications Assistants from relaying calls from their
homes;

* Prohibits VRS providers from tying minutes or calls processed by a
Communicatons Assistant to compensation provided;

* Prohibits compensation for VRS calls that originate from IP addresses that
indicate the individual initiating the call is located outside of the United
States (exception for callers who pre-register with their default provider
for a specified time and location of travel);

* Prohibits compensation for VRS calls for remote training when the service
provider is involved in any way with such training (e.g., sponsors, promotes
or hosts such training);

* Prohibit VRS Communications Assistants from using visual privacy screens;

* Requires that Communications Assistants terminate a VRS call after
providing a warning announcement, if either party to the call: (1) enables a
privacy screen or similar feature for more than five minutes, or (2) is
unresponsive or unengaged for more than five minutes, unless the call is to
9-1-1 or one of the parties is on hold;

* Requires automated recordkeeping of relay services minutes submitted to
the Fund;

* Requires that VRS be offered to the public only in the name of the
provider eligible for compensation from the Fund and, when sub-brands are
used, that these identify such eligible provider;

* Requires that calls to any brand or sub-brand of VRS be routed through a
single URL address for that brand or sub-brand;

* Prohibits revenue sharing agreements for Communications Assistants or call
center functions between entities eligible for compensation from the Fund
and non-eligible entities;

* Prohibits compensation on a per-minute basis for marketing and outreach
costs performed through a subcontractor where such services utilize VRS;

* Adopts whistleblower protection rules for current and former employees and
contractors of TRS providers.

The FCC proposes and seeks comment on the following topics in the Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

* Require that all Internet-based TRS providers be certified by the
Commission to become eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund;

* Require new and renewing certification applicant providers to provide
specific documentary evidence of their ability to comply with the TRS rules;

* As part of certification, FCC could conduct on-site visits as part of the
certification process;

* Revise the provider’s annual report filings to the Commission to require
further documentation that providers are in compliance with the Commission’s
TRS rules;

* Clarify what types of changes trigger a provider’s obligation to notify
the Commission that substantive changes in its TRS program have occurred;

* Require providers to seek approval from the FCC for voluntary interruption
of their Internet-enabled relay service and to promptly notify the FCC
after-the-fact when unforeseen service interruptions occur.

When we learn the due dates for these comments, they will be posted on
coataccess.org

Source: http://www.coataccess.org/node/9988

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