During Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) month in July, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) is celebrating ADA’s 25 years of removing barriers and empowering people. The PSC recognizes Florida’s Relay Service (FRS) for embracing ADA’s spirit to bring “communications freedom” to the state’s deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind, or speech disabled residents.
To raise awareness about FRS assistance and celebrate the unique communications link between the deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled, and the hearing, the PSC and the Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc. (FTRI) produced a video, with closed captioning, highlighting the specialized service. The video can be accessed here in the PSC’s quarterly Consumer Connection Newsletter and is also available on PSC’s website, http://www.floridapsc.com/, under Consumer Assistance.
“July 26 marks the 25 year anniversary of the signing of the ADA, assuring equal opportunity and access for individuals with disabilities to businesses, employment, transportation, government services, and telecommunications,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “We’re proud to recognize this important milestone by highlighting the daily impact FRS has on thousands of Florida residents who are able to obtain employment, call relatives and friends, and make other calls many of us take for granted.”
FTRI, a non-profit corporation formed at the PSC’s direction, administers the statewide FRS system. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, FRS facilitates telephone calls between people with hearing loss or speech disabilities and other individuals by using special equipment and a communications assistance operator to facilitate the telephone conversation.
“Since the beginning of the FTRI program in 1991, more than 515,000 residents have been given specialized telecommunications equipment and support services,” said FTRI Executive Director James Forstall. “Both users and end users appreciate the communications freedom FTRI brings to their lives, an important intent of the ADA.”
One FRS method uses a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, which includes a keyboard and screen to contact a communications assistant, who then voices the message to the receiving party. The reverse process completes the message. The current surcharge of $.12 per landline access line per month funds the distribution of specialized telecommunications devices and relay service.
For information on how to obtain specialized equipment, call FTRI at 1-800-222-3448 (Voice) or 1-888-447-5620 (TTY) or visit http://www.ftri.org.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.