National Association of the Deaf

NAD Condemns the Depletion of State TRS Funds by State Legislatures

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is disturbed by a growing trend among state legislatures of taking funds from state telecommunications relay services (TRS) funds and using them for non-TRS purposes. These are intrastate funds that are used for TTY relay services, CapTel, Hearing Carry-Over, and Voice Carry-Over services and not IP-Relay or Video Relay Services. Most recently, the states of Alabama and Montana have passed bills to transfer state TRS funds to other non-TRS funds. These transfers are being made under special circumstances and will not necessarily happen on a regular basis in the future.

Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act, common carriers (telephone companies) are required to establish interstate and intrastate TRS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables deaf and hard of hearing callers to communicate with non-deaf people through a third party communications assistant. To provide this service, common carriers pay into TRS funds which are used to provide this service. These payments are a form of taxation in exchange for the actual provision of  telecommunications services in the United States.

A preliminary review of FCC rules and guidelines has not shown a definitive answer on the propriety of using TRS funds for other purposes, but NAD continues to research this issue. Nevertheless, NAD opposes