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“TRS.” Although it might look like a typo, this simple acronym (spelled out as “Telecommunications Relay Service”) bears the good news of accessibility in communication for all of us. It matters to you because it helps deliver phone call captioning service to you, where you need it, when you need it. Take a moment to understand TRS, how it’s funded and, more importantly, how it benefits you.
What is the TRS Fund?
The TRS Fund is managed and maintained by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and was established in 1990 with then-President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (and amended in 2008). The Act, commonly referred to as the “ADA,” put in place policies and provisions that determined all U.S. citizens should have equal access to services and opportunities regardless of any disabilities. Specifically, Title IV of the ADA addresses telecommunication services that ensure hearing-impaired individuals have easy access to assisting services that enable them to communicate in a similar fashion as people who do not have hearing impairments. ADA Title IV, then, ensures compensation (that is, funding) to providers who offer services that help those with hearing loss.
That’s a lot there but, boiled down, it means that call captioning service providers like ClearCaptions can securely and sustainably offer technology and solutions that help those who require captions to comfortably communicate using the phone.
Where does the TRS funding come from?
The TRS funding comes from each phone service provider; that is, the carrier that you pay each month for phone connection. Every carrier pays into the fund and, often, they’ll offset their contribution by charging a very tiny fee on your bill (it could be a “Universal Service Fee,” “Regulatory Charge,” or something similar). If your carrier charges such a fee on your regular billing, then you have been paying your part to help maintain the funding.
How does the TRS Fund help me?
Now here’s the best part: your use of the services (like call captioning) that the fund enables is yours to claim at no cost to you! No, that’s no sales pitch; if you develop physician-certified hearing loss that requires captions to effectively use the phone, then it’s your civil right to claim the service. Whether or not you’ve paid into the fund, you can consider it a nest egg that has been nurtured for decades, now ready for your use if and when you need it.
(Of course, there are other simple requirements you must meet to gain access to the call captioning service. Read more about how it works or contact a ClearCaptions representative for further details by calling 866-246-7850.)
So now you know. If you want to learn more about the FCC, the ADA, and the TRS Fund, visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/trs.