D R A F T Commission Recommendations for Discussion Purposes (February 4, 1998)
Please review the recommendations below and consider whether you feel they should be included in the Commission’s report; and, if so, whether they should be a short-term or long-term recommendation:
I. Access to Telecommunications Equipment
1. The State shall review and revise the Telecommunications Equipment Fund and Telecommunications Equipment Plan to ensure that all Maine citizens have access to telecommunications products and customer premises equipment in accordance with the requirements of Title IV of the Federal ADA and the Section 255 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (as reauthorized). A task force consisting of representatives from the several State agencies (DOL, DOE, DMHMRSAS), advisory bodies, and interested parties shall conduct a review of the existing State fund and plan and report their findings, along with any recommended legislation to the Judiciary Committee. The task force shall use the U. S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board "guidelines" for telecommunications products and customer premises equipment in their review.
2. As part of their review, the task force shall review the cost effectiveness of the present telecommunications distribution programs and compare the present model with alternative approaches that may involve statewide and/or local telephone companies in coordinating community-based volunteers across the state in providing outreach and training for Maine’s disabled citizens.
3. The DOE / DOL shall collaborate to ensure that Maine school children have access to TTY, other TDD, and other augmentative communication devices. The DOE / GBSD / Maine CITE / Maine Center on Deafness, shall biennially conduct a survey of the public schools regarding the: (1) number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students and their needs for telecommunications equipment, (2) availability of TTY, other TDD, and other augmentative communication devices, (3) number of requests made for TTY and TDD equipment, and (4) status of staff training and use by teachers and report their findings to the Labor Committee.
4. The DOL / DMHMRSAS, together with other appropriate public or private entities shall review the needs of citizens in community-based group homes, psychiatric centers, and elderly care centers to determine the appropriate telecommunications equipment (e.g., Facsimile machines, two-way video phones) that should be available as part of the State Telecommunications Equipment Fund and Telecommunications Equipment Plan.
II. Awareness, outreach and training programs
1. The DOL Division of Deafness, in concert with Maine Association for the Deaf, Bell Atlantic, Telecommunications Relay Services Advisory Council, Maine Center on Deafness, GBSD, DOE, Maine CITE and other appropriate public or private entities shall review current awareness, outreach and training programs and incorporate effective elements of present efforts with an aggressive outreach program and systemic training initiatives that should include, at minimum, the following elements: statewide volunteer network, TTY / TDD listings in the regular statewide and/or local telephone companies’ phone books, information and trained personnel at the relevant public agency or telephone company regional service centers, (particularly in rural areas of the State), etc.
III. Funding mechanisms / subsidy practices
Telecommunications products and services for eligible disabled individuals should be funded utilizing a combination of:
1. General Fund appropriations to support the State’s Telecommunications Equipment Fund and Telecommunications Equipment Plan;
2. An “implicit” subsidy mechanism that is competitively-neutral, jurisdictionally-neutral, and technologically-neutral and that applies a surcharge to the inter- and intra-state revenues of local exchange carriers on all business and residential customers for calls originating in-state or 800 calls terminating in Maine. The surcharge should also apply to cellular customers and other telecommunications equipment; and.
3. A modest surcharge on all business and residential customer directory assistance calls originating in-state shall be dedicated to providing TTY / TDD accommodations to public payphones ion the State; all customers shall have three (3) free directory assistance calls per month and the surcharge will apply on the fourth and each succeeding directory assistance call in the month.
Any proposed funding mechanism shall be reviewed by the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee and shall also be subject to Public Utilities Commission review and regulation.
IV. Re-convening the study commission
1. Duties, membership, technical assistance and staffing, and reporting requirements (deadline, authorization to submit legislation, etc.)
Return to TTY Study Page