FCC issues stronger standards for disability phone service

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According to the FCC, the changes were necessary "to improve the experience for persons with a speech disability who need the service in order to make telephone calls using their own voice or an assistive voice device."

Under the “speech-to-speech” programs, operators who can understand a variety of speech disorders act as go-betweens on phone calls, relaying conversations back and forth between the individual with the speech disorder and the other person on the line.

The new standards announced on Friday increase the minimum amount of time an operator has to stay on a call before transferring it to someone else, and require that a user of the service have an option to be heard by only the operator, not the person on the other end of the line.

In addition to the new standards, the FCC also issued a notice on Friday asking for comments from the public on whether the agency should contract for a national outreach coordinator for the service, require verification and other recommendations.