Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.
As we work together to develop a national broadband plan, it is critical to incorporate the needs of Americans with disabilities across the country so all members of society have an equal opportunity to reap the benefits of broadband. In particular, deaf and hard of hearing consumers use broadband to communicate, gather information and access services just like everyone else. In addition, these consumers use broadband to access Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) and Video Relay Services (VRS). Not only do these services allow consumers to communicate, they can mean the difference between life and death in times of emergency. Other broadband-enabled video/audio tools are also critical to help this special population communicate and gain access to employment and educational opportunities.
There are so many ways broadband is improving the lives of people with hearing loss that we must focus on reaching out to those who do not take advantage of broadband technology. Increasing adoption rates is an important element to our broadband strategy, and we need to better understand why certain consumers choose not to adopt broadband.
The development of a national broadband plan is an exciting opportunity to expand the reach of high-speed Internet to new consumers, including those who are deaf and hard of hearing. We should seize this moment to help ensure that this special population can also be full participants in the broadband future.
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