Telephone and telecommunications carriers must provide access to individuals with hearing and speech disabilities through the use of special equipment and software. The access must be equivalent to the ability of the nondisabled person to use the service. Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) allow the disabled individual to have such access anywhere in the United States through the use of relay operators who handle the call or other electronic means.

Sidebar: Federal law requires that television stations receiving public funds broadcast public service announcements with closed captioning.

How do I access relay services?

Relay services are accessed through dialing 711.

Are relay services in Spanish required?

Yes. Speech-to-speech relay service and interstate Spanish language relay service must be available.

Can I sue the phone company for failing to provide proper access?

No. The federal law governing discrimination in communications does not allow for a "private right of action." The Federal Communications Commission enforces the statute.

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