Joint Statement from TDI and Sister Consumer Groups/Advocates on Imminent Regulatory Changes for Net Neutrality from the Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will have its open meeting in the morning of Thursday, December 14. A three-to-two Republican majority vote is anticipated from the five-member Commission under Chairman Ajit Pai to issue a Declaratory Ruling, a Report and Order, and an Order to repeal the current Commission rules, except for the transparency requirement, for Net Neutrality.
In recent weeks, TDI and its partnering sister consumer groups/special group representatives have received a substantial number of calls, emails, tweets, and Facebook postings from their members and other stakeholders in the deaf and hard of hearing community. They have expressed some concerns on whatever adverse impact the upcoming FCC action on December 14 may create on their every day access on the Internet, and the pricing/structural features from their internet service providers that may ensue as a result.
The sister consumer groups and other interested parties fully participate today with TDI to issue the joint statement as follows:
Organizations behind the Joint Statement:
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI)
National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
Association for Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)
Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO)
California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH)
National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NASADHH)
Gallaudet Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (Gallaudet RERC)
The Trace Center, University of Maryland – College Park (Trace Center)
Clayton H. Lewis (an advocate for individuals with cognitive disabilities)
The Joint Statement
Net neutrality has become a hot topic across the country this past week. What does it mean for the deaf and hard of hearing community?
In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up rules to require net neutrality. These rules require all internet service providers (ISPs) to treat equally everything you do on the Internet, including videophone (VP) relay programs, captioned telephone services (IP-CTS), video calling services like FaceTime and Skype, or videos with closed captions. Right now, you can use your internet connection for anything you want to do.
But this might change!
The FCC meets on December 14, 2017 to vote on dropping the net neutrality rules that the FCC set up in 2015. This means, for example, ISPs could block you from using FaceTime. This really did happen before 2015, and could happen again. The ISPs could also block, intentionally slow down, or charge more to use search engines, download or upload videos (including calling people via video), or checking emails.
But relay services and other protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal accessibility laws will not go away just because net neutrality goes away. Also, even if net neutrality is removed, the FCC will continue to require ISPs to tell you what services they will limit so you can choose to buy services from the ISP that will give you what you need. The FCC plans to keep this requirement.
But the repeal of net neutrality is too risky and may block Internet applications and programs that deaf and hard of hearing people need. That’s why we have supported and continue to support net neutrality. We are asking the FCC to keep the net neutrality rules.
The Commission has shared with the public its tentative plans for Net Neutrality as part of a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding. TDI encourages its members and other stakeholders to send their feedback on this topic by December 7 to the Commission by email or calls to its ASL Consumer Support Line. Be sure to send your input online under WC Docket No. 17-108, via the Electronic Comment Filing System (https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/). Or any of you who is deaf or hard of hearing and using sign language can call ASL Consumer Support Line by calling 844-4-FCC-ASL (844-432-2275) or 202-810-0444. The ASL Consumer Support Line hours of operation are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday.
If you like to know more about the Commission’s work on this topic, here below is a link to its press release: