TLPC Files Comments on Behalf of Disability Rights Advocates to Enforce Carceral Communications Accessibility

TLPC student attorneys Caitlin League, Michael Obregon, and Brandon Ward worked over the last month with a coalition of incarcerated deaf/disabled people and their advocates, consumer groups, including our client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and accessibility researchers to file comments in response to a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) soliciting input on rates charged to incarcerated people for the use of telecommunication devices. Carceral facilities, including prisons and jails, have long denied incarcerated people with communications disabilities access to functionally equivalent communications services and equipment and charged exorbitant rates to maintain crucial connections between incarcerated people and their families, loved ones, and legal representatives.

Because the transition of the phone system from analog to Internet Protocol networks has largely broken compatibility with teletypewriters (TTYs), many carceral facilities essentially provide no accessible services or equipment. Among other remedies, the comments urge the FCC to require that inmate calling services (ICS) facilitate the provision of accessible services, including video relay service and Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) and equipment, including videophones and captioned telephones, to carceral facilities.