The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved the 2007-2008 budget for the Florida Relay Service (FRS). The FRS provides critical access to basic telecommunications services for Florida’s deaf, hard of hearing, deaf/blind and speech impaired citizens by using specialized telephone equipment and a communications assistance operator to relay information.
“The Commission remains committed to ensuring that all Floridians have meaningful access to telecommunications services,” said PSC Chairman Lisa Polak Edgar. “Without the Florida Relay Service, Floridians with hearing and speech disabilities would be unable to access the telecommunications services that are so central to the ability to communicate and to participate in today's information-driven society.”
As a result of projected reduced costs for FRS operations, the PSC lowered the monthly surcharge all Florida telephone customers pay to finance the program from 15 cents to 11 cents for the fiscal year 2007-2008, saving ratepayers more than $4.6 million. The approved budget of nearly $12.4 million will continue to fund the superior resources and services Floridians with hearing and speech disabilities rely on.
The FRS is the communications link for people who are hearing or speech impaired. The service is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Through FRS, people who use specialized telephone equipment can communicate with people who use standard telephone equipment.
The FRS uses operators, called communications assistants, to facilitate telephone calls between people with hearing and speech disabilities and other individuals. A Relay call may be initiated by either a person with a hearing or speech disability, or a person without such disability. The hearing or speech impaired person uses a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf which includes a keyboard and screen. The consumer types a message to a communications assistance operator, who then voices the message to the receiving party. The reverse of this process completes messages to the hearing impaired person.
To call FRS, dial 7-1-1, or use the appropriate toll free numbers:
• 1-800-955-8771 (Text Telephone/TTY)
• 1-800-955-8770 (Voice)
• 1-800-955-1339 (ASCII)
• 1-877-955-8260 (Voice Carry Over-Direct)
• 1-877-955-5334 (Speech to Speech)
• 1-877-955-8773 (Spanish)
• 1-877-955-8707 (French Creole)
Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI) is the statewide non profit organization that administers the Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program for those Florida citizens who are hearing or speech impaired. The specialized telephone equipment and ring signaling devices provided through the program are loaned to all qualified permanent Florida residents for as long as they need it, 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.
The PSC is committed to making sure that Florida's consumers receive their electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater services in a safe, affordable, and reliable manner. The PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in the areas of rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitoring of safety, reliability, and service.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com.