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2016 Florida NENA Fall Conference

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Video & IP Relay Service / PSAP Interaction
Full Name:
NENA Video Relay Service & IP Relay Service PSAP Interaction
Document Type: Information
Number: NENA-INF-013.2-2015 (originally 52-502)

This NENA Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay) PSAP Interaction Information Document is intended to provide guidelines for PSAPs and recommendations to the FCC regarding:

  • Emergency calls to 9‑1‑1 via Video Relay and IP Relay Services (or similar third party entity)
  • Effective relay of such calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)
  • Interaction between the caller, the Communication Assistants (CAs) and the PSAP Telecommunicators

The original VRS and IP Relay Services PSAP Interaction Operations Information Document disseminated in 2008 has become outdated.  The updated document incorporates lessons learned, updated regulatory information affecting VRS and IP Relay Services, and suggestions for long and short-term improvements as well as important considerations.  The intent is to assist all parties involved in emergency communication necessitating the involvement of third parties to become more seamless and successful.

New technology offers many communication options, which individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing and individuals with speech disabilities enjoy along with the general public.  Many people have migrated from traditional TTY to Internet based telecommunications, and have terminated landline telephone services altogether.  Just as many in the general population rely solely on mobile telephony, individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing or have a speech disability often rely exclusively on Internet based (Video Relay and/or IP Relay) services for communication access.

It is important to keep in mind that prior to the inception of VRS & IP relay services (which began emerging in 2002) people with hearing and speech disabilities were generally limited to communicating via TTYs connected to landlines.  With the advent of VRS & IP relay, people began to use their antiquated TTYs less, both for point to point and relay calling purposes.  Now, many have made the transition to mobile and internet-based telephony (just as their hearing peers have) and have terminated their landline services, assuming that relay service providers are accessible for emergency calling.  In the early days of the industry, prior to the Ten Digit Numbering (TDN) requirements, relay providers were not equipped to connect 9-1-1 calls.  Although providers cautioned customers and encouraged them to continue to use their TTY for 9-1-1, consumers still called 9-1-1 through VRS or IP relay service. CAs, faced with a person in crisis, attempted to connect callers with the correct emergency provider even though the system infrastructure was not stable or ready.  Due to the obvious need for Internet relay services to be accessible for 9-1-1 calls, the FCC eventually established the current set of requirements.  

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony is generally chock full of challenges for the emergency services industry.  These challenges are further complicated when adding the nature of relayed calls – involving a third party (and sometimes a fourth) in the call flow.  Developing uniform operational guidelines for PSAPs and offering recommendations for relay or other third party providers, along with suggestions for the FCC, is very important.

Committee Name(s): Accessibility

Created: 02/12/2008

Video Relay Service & IP Relay Service PSAP Interaction
(c) 2013-14 NENA - National Emergency Number Association, Alexandria, VA
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