by Eric Bridges

I am quite pleased to report another small but important victory for individuals with disabilities at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). For well over a year, ACB has worked with the Disability Rights Office at the FCC to formulate a report that would detail complaints by the disability community. As some of you know, the FCC collects reporting data on complaints ranging from indecent content on TV and radio to broadcast rights.

Historically, however, the FCC has not published a report detailing complaints by the disability community. I know that many of you have completed informal complaints on inaccessible cell phones and access to televised emergency information. These types of complaints are precisely what this report will collect. Below is a notice announcing this report. In the notice there is a link that will take you to a page that will let you file an informal complaint. Now that we have this report, which will be made available for the public to view, it is imperative that ACB members help to populate the relevant categories with many complaints.   

This report will give the blind community solid data to utilize when working with Congress and industry on issues pertaining to telecommunications. Please let me know if you require assistance in completing an informal complaint.

Report On Informal Consumer Complaints Regarding Access To Telecommunications For People With Disabilities

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2009 – The Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) announces information regarding informal consumer complaints processed by the Disability Rights Office (DRO) during the fourth quarter of the calendar year 2008.  DRO processes informal complaints in the following five categories:  (1) access to telecommunications services and equipment (Section 255) (47 U.S.C. § 255), (2) telecommunications relay services (TRS) (47 U.S.C. § 225), (3) closed captioning (47 C.F.R. § 79.1), (4) accessibility of video programming providing emergency information (47 C.F.R. § 79.2), (5) and hearing aid compatibility (47 U.S.C. § 610).                For the fourth quarter of 2008 (Oct. 1, 2008-Dec. 31, 2008), DRO received the following number of informal complaints, by subject matter, implicating the Commission’s disability access rules: 30 informal complaints raised Section 255 issues; 38 informal complaints raised TRS issues; 80 informal complaints raised closed captioning issues; 4 informal complaints raised accessibility of video programming providing emergency information issues; and 2 informal complaints raised hearing aid compatibility issues.                On Feb. 1, 2008, CGB launched a new database tracking system for informal complaints, the Consumer Complaint Management System (CCMS).  CCMS utilizes the Form 2000C for all disability access informal complaints regarding the five categories listed above.  Consumers can access this complaint form at www.fcc.gov/cgb/form2000c.html.   

The Commission receives many inquiries and complaints that do not involve violations of the Communications Act, a Commission rule, or a Commission order.  The existence of a complaint does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing by the company at issue.  For more information regarding access to telecommunications for people with disabilities and other related matters, visit the DRO web site at www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro. 

A copy of this document will be available during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th St. S.W., Room CY-A257, Washington, D.C. 20554.  This document and copies of subsequently filed documents in this matter may also be purchased from the Commission’s duplicating contractor at Portals II, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room CY-B402, Washington, D.C. 20554.  Customers may contact the Commission’s duplicating contractor at their web site, www.bcpiweb.com, or call 1-800-378-3160 or (202) 488-5300.

To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), or (202) 418-0432 (TTY).  This news release can also be downloaded in Word and Portable Document Format (PDF) at www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/. 

For further information regarding this informal complaint information, contact Cheryl King, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office: (202) 418-2284 (voice), (202) 418-0416 (TTY), or e-mail [email protected]

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