More than 1.07 million calls were handled in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 by Florida’s Relay Service (FRS), according to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) report on the Status of the Telecommunications Access System. FRS provides deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech impaired citizens critical access to basic telecommunications services.
Florida, the nation’s fourth largest state, ranks second in the percentage of residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech impaired, with nearly three million citizens affected. The FRS system, established in 1991, provides equitable telecommunications access for eligible citizens who can use the system to place a call anytime.
“The FRS system provides a vital communications link for those needing it,” said PSC Chairman Ronald A. Brisé. “This convenient and reliable program enables eligible residents to access telephone service to connect with family, friends, and emergency services.”
The PSC’s report also shows that 15,078 new deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech impaired individuals were served in Florida, and 31,726 pieces of specialized telecommunications equipment were distributed in FY 2013.
FRS uses specialized telephone equipment and communications assistance operators to relay information. By using a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, which includes a keyboard and screen, the deaf or hard of hearing consumer types a message to a communications assistance operator, who then voices the message to the receiving party. The reverse process then completes the message.
Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) administers the Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program. FTRI loans the equipment and ring signaling devices to all qualified, permanent Florida residents at no charge. For information on how to obtain the specialized equipment, call FTRI at 1-800-222-3448 (Voice) or 1-888-447-5620 (Text Telephone/TTY) or visit http://www.ftri.org/.
For additional information, visit http://www.floridapsc.com/.
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