The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is taking further steps to improve telecommunications services for Canadians with hearing and speech disabilities.
Canada’s telecom regulator announced Friday that it is conducting a detailed study into video relay services, which enables people to use sign language rather than typed text, to communicate over the telephone.
“Text relay services available nationwide meet the needs of the vast majority of people with such disabilities. However, people with disabilities who use a sign language as their first or primary language have submitted that video relay, a sign-language service, would better meet their needs,” the CRTC said in a press release.
“The CRTC has decided that further study is required to better understand the different projections regarding use and cost of the service.”
In particular, the CRTC said it is trying clarify “discrepancies” between two reports submitted by BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. “regarding the projected use and cost of video relay service.” BCE and Telus conducted separate studies on the issue.
As part of its assessment, the CRTC also plans to probe international programs, while examining new technologies designed to make telecom services more accessible for consumers with hearing and speech disabilities.
This latest “fact-finding” mission flows from the regulator’s 2009 commitment to make communications services easier to use for the more than four million Canadians living with disabilities.
In February, the CRTC announced it was conducting a three-month trial that will use text messaging to improve the accessibility of 911 emergency services for people with hearing or speech problems.
That trial project was the result of a collaboration by public safety experts, telecom companies and individuals with hearing and speech impairments following the regulator’s accessibility decision in 2009.