If you or a loved one uses a telephone captioning system like CaptionCall or CapTel, you should know about an FCC Order on internet protocol caption telephone services (IP CTS). IP CTS refers to the use of an internet connection to provide captions on live phone calls. Effective September 30, the following is in place:

  • Captions will not appear on the phone until the consumer turns the captions on, with exceptions made for people with documented physical or cognitive disabilities
  • Consumers are required to pay $75 or more for a captioned phone, unless the consumer receives the phone from a state equipment distribution program
  • Apps (software applications) for mobile phones will cost $75 or more, unless the consumer already has an IP CTS phone
  • Consumers must register with the provider of the phone
  • Consumers must certify under penalty of perjury that they have a hearing loss that requires the use of a captioned phone
  • Consumers must certify that they will not permit anyone who is not registered to use their captioned phone
  • Audiologists, or any hearing health professional, would no longer be allowed to receive any rewards or incentives, financial or otherwise,  for signing up consumers to receive IP CTS phones,

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) wrote a declaration submitted to the FCC specific to the problem that not everyone in need of captioned telephone service can afford to pay $75, which CHC’s executive director in New York has signed.

For those who already own a captioned telephone, it seems you may at some point the FCC may request certification of your hearing loss, but you won’t have to pay a fee.

I looked to the FCC website for more information, but the site is offline due to this week’s government shutdown.

There is a change.org petition created by an employee of CaptionCall, one of the private companies that provides captioned phones and services. It argues that the FCC ruling is not in line with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. As of this posting, the petition has 1,984 of the 2,500 online signatures needed.

What do you think? Is the new ruling discriminatory?