From the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), December 12, 2013
Washington, D.C. – Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler and the National Institute on
Aging (NIA) Deputy Director Dr. Marie A. Bernard signed an agreement today to partner on research into
the use of modern IP technology to improve and make more accessible phone service to Americans who
are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing.
Under the joint agreement, the FCC will collaborate with the NIA to develop and support research plans
for assessing Internet Protocol (IP) technologies that can benefit older adults with hearing disabilities or
deafness. Such benefits could be incorporated into the FCC’s Interstate Telecommunications Relay
Services (TRS) program, which enables people with disabilities to do what most Americans take for
granted: make a simple phone call.
"The IP transitions are upon us and so is the obligation for the FCC to invite a diverse set of experiments
that will allow the Commission and the public to understand how the IP transitions can further important
social goals, including access for all Americans," said Chairman Wheeler. "Today’s Memorandum of
Understanding will allow the FCC to work with other expert agencies to increase knowledge on how
next-generation networks can best serve the needs of older Americans and those with disabilities."
Deputy Director Bernard added, "This effort addresses a critical need to leverage expertise and resources
in a world of rapidly changing technologies where we have a unique opportunity to find and use the best
technologies to improve the lives of older people and those with special needs. NIA is pleased to be
involved with this initiative."
The interagency Memorandum of Understanding establishes guidelines for the two agencies to work
together on objective, rigorous research into the current and anticipated use of IP-based relay technologies
to provide service to people who are deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing. Specifically, the research plans
will assess and evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency and consumer response to current and future
approaches to delivering TRS, including automated speech-to-text and video plus automated speech-to-text