Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaking news... CRTC has reached the final decision about Video Relay Service in Canada!

Hello everyone,

Breaking news... Good news CRTC made the decision to have VRS in Canada !! It will be happening in Fall 2015. Please see the information below which I copy & paste from CRTC website:

The CRTC held a week long public hearing to determine whether Video Relay Service (VRS) for Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired should be offered. Today, the CRTC has issued its decision that VRS must be made available throughout Canada, starting as early as the fall of 2015.
During the public hearing, which involved the telecommunications industry, potential VRS users and representatives of the VRS industry, a number of participants suggested that rather than require telecommunications service providers to create and provide their own VRS service, to best serve Canadians, an independent administrative body should be set up to oversee the implementation of VRS.
The CRTC has decided in favour of this approach and is inviting comments on the administrative body’s structure and mandate.  This public consultation, which was launched by a Telecom Notice of Consultation, will lead to the creation of a VRS administrator with a Board of Directors that draws its members from all VRS stakeholders, including both American Sign Language (ASL) users,Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) users, telecommunications service providers and others. For more information or to participate, please visit the CRTC website (www.crtc.gc.ca).
VRS must be available for users of both ASL and LSQ and it will be funded by the National Contribution Fund. The fund was created in 2001 to subsidize local telephone service in areas where the cost of providing this service is higher. A maximum of $30 million from the fund will be allocated annually to support VRS once it is in operation.
The administrator will have the authority to make important decisions about how VRS is implemented within the requirements established by the CRTC.
The administrator is required, among other things, to:
·         Build a VRS model that meets the criteria set out by the CRTC in its decision, including targeted hours of operation and technical requirements with respect to the VRS platform and technology;
·         Ensure that VRS is delivered efficiently across Canada;
·         Develop the VRS service quality standards, privacy and confidentiality policies, and a process for monitoring VRS implementation, including dealing with complaints and collecting data;
·         Develop an education and outreach campaign to make Canadians aware of when VRS will be available and how it works; and
·         Report to the CRTC as required.
For a more detailed description of the roles and responsibilities of the administrator, please see the decision, available on the CRTC’s website at www.crtc.gc.ca.
The CRTC will ensure that both LSQ and ASL services launch on the same day, and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that the quality and availability of the service in both languages is comparable.
Once VRS launches, telephone numbers will be issued to Canadians who require this service due to a hearing or speech disability. All telephone users will be able to contact VRS subscribers simply by calling their telephone number. In order to receive a telephone number, VRS users will need to sign a user agreement that certifies they have a hearing or speech disability, and that outlines privacy and confidentiality policies, fair usage policies and information on 9-1-1 access. A user agreement is required so that the roles and responsibilities of the user and the provider are understood.
Access to basic VRS will be offered at no additional charge. Those who sign up for this service will need to obtain and pay for their own high-speed Internet service and an Internet-connected device needed for VRS, such as a computer, smartphone, tablet or videophone. The CRTC has decided that no special VRS basic Internet packages will be mandated.
VRS may not initially be offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The CRTC has directed the administrator to prioritize high-traffic times and to aim to provide at least 72 hours of VRS per week, with some service being provided every day of the week by the end of the first year of operations. Individuals will only be able to call 9-1-1 through VRS during these hours of operation.
VRS users will be required to pay for any additional services, such as call waiting, call display, video mail and long-distance calls. Where available, these services are to be offered to a registered VRS user at rates similar to those of corresponding voice telephone services. Long-distance services are to be charged based on conversation minutes.
To ensure that the system continues to meet the needs of all Canadians, the CRTC will review the VRS system at the end of three years following its implementation.  By making the provision of VRS mandatory, the CRTC has taken an important step towards improving access to the telecommunications system for all Canadians, including those with hearing or speech disabilities.
We hope that this information has been helpful. It is intended to summarize the key elements of the decision and to serve as a quick reference for consumers. For more information, please consult the decision, which is the authoritative document setting out the CRTC’s determinations about VRS.
If you’d like more information about VRS, including a list of frequently asked questions and details about how you can participate in the next consultation, please visit the CRTC online at www.crtc.gc.ca


Sheila Montney