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Customers to Again Receive Phones at No Cost

SALT LAKE CITY (June 26, 2014) –Last week, CaptionCall® achieved a legal victory for people with hearing loss when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the captioned telephone service. The ruling nullified all of the rules put forward in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) January 2013 order because the FCC failed to follow due process. The court also reversed two rules put in place in August 2013. The first required those with hearing loss to demonstrate eligibility for the service by paying at least $75 for CaptionCall equipment; the second required equipment be delivered with captions defaulted “off.” The court called these rules “arbitrary and capricious.”

The court’s ruling is significant because according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), there are millions of Americans with hearing loss, and many of them need captions to fully understand telephone conversations. 

“Since its inception in 2010, CaptionCall has advocated giving access to its phone at no cost, ensuring that all those who need the service get it, regardless of their ability to pay,” says Bruce Peterson, CaptionCall Senior Director of Marketing. “CaptionCall is committed to empowering consumers with hearing loss to communicate by phone with the functional equivalency of a hearing person.”

Peterson notes that CaptionCall was the only Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) provider who challenged the FCC’s orders in court, arguing that the FCC regulations violated the rights of those with hearing loss. By contrast, other IP CTS providers advocated that consumers should demonstrate eligibility for the equipment and service by paying for it.

CaptionCall’s challenge to the FCC’s rules was supported by HLAA and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), which together submitted a friend-of-the-court brief supporting CaptionCall, and by thousands of consumers who submitted comments to the FCC. The court sighted these consumers as a voice the FCC must address in its rule-making process.
“CaptionCall is pleased with the court’s ruling and looks forward to working with the FCC to continue to provide access to this empowering communication technology for those with hearing loss,” Peterson says. “This is their right as mandated through the Americans with Disabilities Act. We intend to make it a reality for all those entitled to it.”

Changes to the FCC’s current rules are anticipated to become effective mid-August.