More than 1.5 million calls were handled in Fiscal Year 2009 by Florida’s Relay Service (FRS), according to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) recent report on the Status of the Telecommunications Access System. FRS provides hearing 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 PSC’s report also shows that 17,170 new speech and/or hearing impaired individuals were served in Florida, and 36,044 pieces of specialized telecommunications equipment were distributed for FY 2009.
“Using FTRI equipment helps impaired citizens be telephone independent,” said PSC Chairman Matthew M. Carter II. “We encourage eligible residents to sign up for the program, since it’s easy to receive the specialized equipment.”
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 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 to the hearing impaired person.
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 when needed, 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.