Carceral Communications and Accessibility

Carceral Communications and Accessibility. HEARD, with the assistance of TDI’s legal representation, filed a Comment to the Federal Communications Commission concerning the communication accessibility for the Deaf and other incarcerated people with disabilities in correctional facilities.

We asked the FCC to require the inmate calling service (ICS) providers to provide modern communication services. These include TTY (text telephone devices)-based telecommunications relay services, the Video Relay Services (VRS), Internet Protocol captioned telephone service (IP CTS) or captioned telephone service (CTS), Internet Protocol relay service (IP Relay), and speech-to-speech relay service (STS), as well as direct video and text communications services, including direct video calling and real-time text (RTT) in all correctional facilities for Deaf individuals.

According to certain provisions under Communication Acts and the FCC’s legal authority under certain provisions under that Act as well, the FCC has the authority to require the ICS providers to provide access to TRS services. Also, the FCC should require these providers not to charge for any TRS calls. This includes the provision of direct video and text communication with no charge.

Modern and Updated Carceral Communication and Accessibility

Therefore, the correctional facilities must provide modern and updated communication services for these incarcerated individuals with disabilities. This grants them equal and proper communication access, in addition, to reintegrate them successfully back into society. Not only that, the proper and equitable communication services will ensure that Deaf individuals have an improved quality of life, mental and physical well-being, and access to information.

Finally, the FCC should expand the annual reporting requirements to include all TRS and direct video and text communications. The FCC acknowledges that it previously “found the burdens of reporting TTY-based calls to be far outweighed by the benefits of greater transparency and heightened accountability on the part of inmate calling services providers.”

For more information about TDI’s filing addressing Accessibility Coalition Carceral Comms Fifth FNPRM, visit the filing and full list of signatories at the following link:

Carceral Communications and Accessibility


WC 12-375 — Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services;

Special Thanks to:

Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic (TLPC), Colorado Law

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American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB), American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA), Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH), Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO), Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD), HEARD, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), National Cued Speech Association (NCSA), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Hispanic Latino Association of the Deaf (NHLAD), Northern Virginia Resource Center (NVRC), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH-RERC), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Interface & Information Technology Access (IT-RERC), TDI