Video Relay Service: Program Funding and Reform [March 10, 2014]   [open pdf - 447KB]

"The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates a number of disability-related telecommunications services, including video relay service (VRS). VRS is a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS). The service allows persons with hearing disabilities, using American Sign Language (ASL), to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text. Video equipment links the VRS user with a 'communications assistant' (CA) so that the VRS user and the CA can see and communicate with each other in signed conversation (see Figure 1). VRS has quickly become a very popular service. It offers several features not available with the text-based TRS: [1] People with hearing disabilities can communicate using ASL rather than typing what they want to say. This allows them to incorporate facial expressions and body language into their conversations, which cannot be done using text. [2] A VRS call is more like a telephone conversation between two hearing persons. For example, the parties can interrupt each other. The parties cannot interrupt each other during a traditional TRS call because the parties have to take turns communicating with the CA. [3] Conversation flows more naturally between the parties, so the conversation may take place more quickly than with TRS. [4] VRS calls may be made between ASL users and hearing persons speaking either English or Spanish."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R42830
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