Good news for TDI’s members, the national deaf and hard of hearing community, and the general public!

In this Thursday’s open five-member commission meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will consider the need to update its rules in order to transition from TTY technology, which is used on the legacy analog network, to real-time text (RTT) technology, which is recognized as a superior accessibility solution for Internet Protocol (IP) communication networks. The open commission meeting takes place on April 28, 2016, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST, in the Commission’s Meeting Room, 445 12th Street S.W., Washington, D.C. It is open to the public and live streamed starting at 10:30 a.m. EST.

For more information on the meeting and the live webcast, here is the link:

In this meeting, the Commission will be considering adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks comment on proposals to support RTT communications over Internet Protocol communications networks, in order to help ensure the accessibility of these networks for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled. The NPRM gives the opportunity to everyone, including the telecommunications and information technology industries, technical experts, consumer advocacy groups, and technology product manufacturers, to give feedback to FCC before it acts on final regulations for this technology.

Shown above: TTY-style method, requiring turn-by-turn text communication – RTT is intended to replace this by no longer requiring to wait for your turn to type. As soon as you start typing, the other person will see your text in real time.

Real-time text (RTT) is text transmitted instantly as it is typed or created. Recipients can immediately read the message while it is being written, without waiting. Real-time text is used for conversational text. It will also be a natural extension for those who are hearing, to have other real-time, conversational services such as voice telephony, e.g., for use in noisy environments, when they want to communicate during a meeting when voice is not appropriate. It will also be very useful for conveying information where exact spelling is important during a voice call, e.g. booking numbers, street addresses, words that are hard to perceive because of different dialects, etc.

AT&T and Verizon have worked on to ultimately replace TTYS with RTT as a natural successor. They received temporary waivers from the FCC’s TTY rules in order to offer Wi-Fi calling on certain devices. Thanks, AT&T and Verizon!

Claude Stout, Executive Director, TDI said, “TDI salutes the FCC for continuing to fulfill its exemplary commitment for opportunities and access for Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing, and their contacts in the general mainstream to new and emerging technologies such as this week with Real Time Text (RTT). We are extremely pleased with, and appreciative of the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s action-oriented leadership in moving this initiative forward, as well as the support from the four other FCC Commissioners – Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai, and Michael O’Rielly. We also like to express our deep gratitude to the management and staff at the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, particularly Karen Peltz-Strauss, Gregory Hlibok, and others in the Disability Rights Office for their administrative efforts to make this proceeding possible.”