Further Comments : DWCC (Intervenor 754)

Document Name: 2015-134.223984.2537707.Further Comments (1$#3v01!).html

Please see the attached document for comments.Raisons pour comparaitre / Reasons for appearancePlease note in the attached cover letter, the DWCC members wishes to appear in the hearing to discussion the following topics:1. Survey Results from the DWCC's recent survey work2. **** Data Plans that need to be put in place as per Wireless Code Act2a. Data Caps vs Unlimited Data Plans3. Voice Removed vs. Voice Credit options leading to concerns regarding Text911 accessibility4. Improved Broadband is needed for Video Communications5. Funding mechanism to cover subsidy for ASL/LSQ users with low-incomesOnce the DWCC is invited to the hearing, we will provide names of individuals who could attend the hearing on the Committee's behalf in person and remotely.Please note that we will be requiring sign language interpreters and CART services. I understand that this will be arranged approximately 20 days prior to the date of the hearing.In person: up to 4 peopleRemote locations:- Nova Scotia Office (1 individual)- Alberta Office (1 or 2 individuals)- BC Office (1 or 2 individuals)The reason we would like to appear at the hearing is to present the survey results and provide a summary of analysis on what we have learned through the analysis.We want to ensure we have provided all possible information for the Commission's considerations during the proceedings.Thank you.

Further Comments : DWCC (Intervenor 754)

Document Name: 2015-134.223984.2537708.Further Comments (1$#3w01!).pdf

c/o Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC) 251 Bank ****, Suite 606, Ottawa, ON *** ***

E-Mail: ******@***.com
Mr. John Macri
Director, Policy Framework
Telecommunications Sector
February 8, 2016
Our reference: 8663-C12-201503186
**** Mr. Macri,

Re: Review of basic telecommunications services, Telecom Notice of Consultation 2015-134-31 – Second Phase ****

The purpose of this submission is to review other parties’ interventions that if necessary, we formulate responses to re-emphasize the DWCC position in this area of basic telecommunications services. Our responses are either commentary or in support of some parties’ interventions.

Enclosed below is the summary of our responses to interventions.

DWCC would like to reiterate our intention to have 4 to 6 DWCC members attend the hearing to present survey findings and make recommendations and be available for questioning in **** 2016.

**** Haas, Secretary

on behalf of the Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC-CSSSC) cc: **** Bailey, CRTC, 819-997- 4557, ******@***.com

cc: **** Anderson-Kellett, Chair of Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC-CSSSC) cc: Frank ****, President, Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD-ASC) 1 Review of basic telecommunications services, Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134, 9 **** 2015; as amended by Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-1, 3 **** 2015; and Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-2, 22 http://www.deafwireless.ca/

Intervention for Phase 2:
Responses to other **** in
Telecom Notice of Consultation 2015-134:
Review of Basic Telecommunications Services
Deaf Wireless Canada Committee
February 8, 2016

The key objective of Deaf Wireless Canada Committee is to advocate for fair priced wireless contracts for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers in Canada. Our four key points are:

1 - **** and uniform wireless data plans for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers 2 - Telecommunication Service Providers (wireless/mobile companies) provide fairer options of data plans for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers

3 - Telecommunication Service Providers (wireless/mobile companies) ensure more transparency in advertisement of package offerings specifically for Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers 4 - Decreased disparity but fair competitive prices among different Telecommunication Service Providers (wireless/mobile companies) that Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers have more variety in their choices (for optimal video communications).

With the four goals in mind, we reviewed numerous specific documents to make comments and share our views.

In reference to the Media Access Canada (MAC) group’s submission on July 14, 2015 to the TNC 2015-134 proceeding:

The Deaf Wireless Canada Committee is pleased with several MAC’s comments and points, as many of their points align with our Committee’s values as follows:

5) Consequently, from a technological perspective, it is increasingly feasible for providers to offer retail services that incorporate minimum service quality guarantees (versus the current best effort standard). Even if operators continue to offer most of their plans based on a best effort/maximum link speed basis, the Commission could require them to offer one plan that commits operators to specific minimum service quality standards the Commission deems to be appropriate (i.e. in terms up/down load speeds, latency, etc.)


• Canadians with disabilities should not have to pay for services they cannot use due to their disability.

• Canadians with disabilities have unique broadband needs that differ from other Canadians which must be recognized in extending basic service standards and or obligations to Internet access services.

• Basic Internet access services must be provided at prices that are affordable relative to average income of Canadians with disabilities. To ensure that Canadians with disabilities can afford connectivity, the Commission and Industry Canada should develop a program for subsidies broadband access to Canadians with disabilities whom cannot work or have low incomes.


16) MAC stakeholders recognize access to reliable and affordable Internet access services of a high quality to be critical to the ability of Canadians with disabilities to learn to overcome their unique challenges, build social network and participate fully in the digital economy.

DWCC’s Response: We are in support of the Media Access Canada and their points and comments, numbered 3, 5, 8, 15, 17, 20, 22, 35, 42, and 43-49.

It is the Committee’s view that the CRTC needs to address the costs for people with disabilities with lower incomes.

The Committee believes that providers could offer retail broadband or wireless services in specialized packages that are reasonable accommodations for ASL/LSQ users. As well, the Committee believes a funding mechanism needs to be put into place to subsidize equipment costs and wireless plans (smartphone such as iPhone, etc.) necessary for video communications for the ASL/LSQ users, with lower incomes.

The Committee proposes “Telecommunications Accessibility Fund (TAF)” that supports such subsidy programs, or what the MAC suggested: “National Disabilities Subsidy Fund (NDSF)” (point 42 in MAC document) to address their concerns (MAC point 35). The Committee is in agreement with MAC, that ASL/LSQ users require advanced information technologies to improve their accessibility to telecommunications system. ASL/LSQ users will have a functionally equivalency of telecommunications access once requirements are raised to support video communications.

The DWCC encourages CRTC to be clearer and firm in its policy framework to recognize the unique and basic needs of all Canadians with disabilities for reliable and affordable Internet connectivity (MAC point 16). With a formal recognition by the CRTC, this will be instrumental in motivating service providers to consider and respond to the needs for Canadians with disabilities for high-speed, symmetric, and affordable connectivity (MAC point 17). ASL/LSQ users tend to have higher than usual demand for advanced communications (MAC point 20), and do not use audio on video. Their needs are different than hearing Canadians. A Canadian, who uses ASL/LSQ, needs video relay services to have equivalent communication (MAC point 36). With this point taken into account, ASL/LSQ users may feel they are being punished for their needs in order to function in everyday life by paying higher costs for what could have been reasonable accommodations.

The Committee learned during their review of FCC documents for January 13th RFI that Canada has substaintially lower download and upload speeds in comparison with other countries. Therefore, the committee agrees with MAC point 22. Canada needs to play catch up to meet the needs of its own citizens. In many instances, ASL/LSQ users must pay for voice as part of bundled packages because individual selection is more expensive, the accessory that they do not even use (MAC point 37).

CRTC should take into consideration all the previous rulings it has made with decisions in relation to people with disabilities and actually make it apply in this proceeding (MAC point 39). Such as, mandating a disabilities discount, the Commission determined that such a requirement would help 5

to meet the objectives of paragraph 7(h) of the Act by responding to the economic and social requirements of telecommunications service users (MAC point 39).

The DWCC would like to support all the parties, in the 2013-155 proceeding who brought up the concern, including individuals and groups, such as the BCVRS, OVRSC, OAD, TAD, CAD (July 14, 2015 item number 4 on page 3), CHS (item number 29), and MAC’s document (points 43-49). This is high time that the CRTC listens to all the parties who have recommended a mechanism for managing telecommunications and broadcasting issues for people with disabilities within the CRTC and federal departments such as Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage. A recommended mechanism was a Disability Rights Office (DRO), or the more positive term, Accessibility Office.

The United States has made so much more progress in that direction compared to Canada. They even have a Deaf person in the Oval office, and the FCC has a direct videophone line to call in and field any telecommunications related questions, and other inquiries. The United States Government has taken great strides to meet the communication needs of the ASL/LSQ users; why is Canada continuing to fall behind in these kinds of initiatives.

The DWCC has still yet to learn whether or not people of disabilities are staffed by the CRTC, or CCTS, or on the Accessibility Advisory Committee of the CWTA. Today is the time that such an Accessibility Office exist to ensure standards are established with skilled, qualified people with the personal experience (deaf, blind, mobility challenges) to who can best do the tasks. This Accessibility Office would be vital to recognizing the needs of all people with disabilities with telecommunications or broadcasting issues and to addressing the issues accordingly. Having a Social Policy staff personnel does not fit with the wide variety of persons with disabilities and such a job should be filled by a person with a disability. Who better can advise on these issues than a person with personal experience with these everyday barriers, and have an empathy with those who contact them for inquiries or support. This aligns with CHS view in this topic: Portrayal and Employment of Persons with Disabilities (points 28 & 29 July 14, 2015 TNC 2015-134 response) The DWCC is in agreement that there needs to be more of an effort to hire experienced and skilled Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees in the positions that require customer communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing consumers in telecommunications industry. It would make sense to provide video communication in sign language as a part of customer services for ASL/LSQ users.

In reference to the Canadian Hearing Society:
Broadband and Data Plan Affordability

16. Concern: The data plans in both residential and on mobile devices are significantly more expensive for Deaf people and Hard of Hearing people who cannot and understand voice telephone.

Forcing them to have voice plan under their mobile device payment plan and needing more data for video calls and so on is an additional cost.


Recommendation: Cost for mobile and residential internet data plans should be the same cost as what most Canadians pay; however, the functional equivalency would be to remove the voice plan and the minutes need to be translated to data. Often mobile providers provide unlimited local minutes and reduce long distance charges. This needs to be reflected in a data plan that would provide unlimited local data, etc.

DWCC’s View & Comment: The Committee is in agreement that there is additional cost for voice payment on wireless phone plans. With this point, the Committee would like to request CRTC re-visit issue where the Text with 911 has a requirement to have a voice plan included in order to access to emergency services. ASL/LSQ users do not use voice minutes allocated on their phone, why pay for something they are not using. **** revisions and accommodations need to be made across the board especially for Text with 911 accessibility. Several ASL/LSQ users successfully had their voice plans removed, but they cannot use the Text with 911 feature, even after they have already registered with their Wireless Service Providers. This lack of emergency accessibility jeopardizes lives.

Wireless packages need to be created that are accommodating to the ASL/LSQ users, who require clear video communications with better qualities. These packages broadband need to be reasonable set prices to accommodate the needs of the ASL/LSQ users in Canada.

In reference to Telus’ response:
4.2.10 Accessibility of Broadband Services for the Disabled

87. TELUS supports fairness in its relationships with all of its customers, including persons with disabilities. A number of parties expressed concern about the suitability of current mobile wireless plans for subscribers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Canadian Association of the Deaf, the Canadian Hearing Society, the Deaf Wireless Canada Committee and Media Access Canada have each raised the issue that mobile wireless data-only plans should be available for deaf and hard of hearing users.

DWCC’s View & Comment: The Deaf Wireless Canada Committee would like to express its gratitude to Telus for being supportive about mobile wireless data-only plans being available to ASL/LSQ users. We do hope that the retail prices will be eventually further packaged fairly to accommodate video communications usage by ASL/LSQ users.

**** 48

89. Other parties separately raise concerns about the data allowance for VRS. In this regard, the Deaf Wireless Canada Committee commented that customers who will be using VRS in Canada will require a monthly wireless plan that includes 8 GB of usage. In response, it is too early to determine how current wireless options may be used by these communities. TELUS is currently analyzing various possibilities to address this issue, including the option of not 7

charging its wireless customers for the data associated with future VRS usage. However, TELUS notes that the VRS platform is not yet selected by the Canadian Administrator of VRS (“CAV”) and that the VRS provider has yet to be identified. Additional information regarding the exact parameters of the VRS service is required before any definitive solution can be developed to address this matter. Therefore, TELUS is not in a position to comment further at this time.

Future collaboration will be required between TELUS, VRS providers and the CAV in order to meet the needs of VRS users.

DWCC’s View & Comment: The Deaf Wireless Canada Committee is requesting consideration of wireless and internet packages in this proceeding in the pre-VRS era, in the hopes to prevent any calamities during the post-VRS era rather than Telus’ wait-and-see approach. This is based on our American colleagues’ experiences. The Committee is very concerned that ASL/LSQ users might end-up overpaying for data wireless packages. Issues have since surfaced due to the introduction of video communication applications like FaceTime and Glide. The Committee predicts that issues could be worse once the VRS is implemented in Canada. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Canadians deserve functionally equivalent communication, anytime, anywhere just like the rest of Canadian population with their voice plans. This is as long as Deaf and Hard of Hearing Canadians are offered reasonable fair priced packages without having to worry about overage charges. The US colleagues have made recommendations that 10GB to 12GB packages are made available to ASL/LSQ users. If unlimited data packages cannot be offered, allowances need to be made for a cushion of 3 GB to 5GB overage without penalty based on a recommendation made by one of our American consultants who assisted the Committee with the CRTC’s January 13 2016 RFI.

Telus suggested future collaboration between CAV, the platform provider, VRS providers, and all broadband and wireless providers – this is encouraging and the Committee supports the Telus’ recommendation.

CCTS & CAD-ASC interventions’ discussion regarding the NCF funds:

In reference to the points above whereas MAC raised the issue of subsidy funding, we would like to support and address the fact that a funding mechanism needs to be put into place to support accessibility needs especially for those with low incomes. An equipment subsidy program would allow smartphones or tablets become available for ASL/LSQ users with low income, who use telecommunication devices for communication especially when VRS becomes available for their needs. This concept of a funding mechanism was brought up several times during the CRTC TNC 2013-155 proceeding. Whether, it may be named a Telecommunications Accessibility Fund (TAF), such as what CHS also recommends in point 30, or the MAC-proposed National Disability Subsidy Fund “NDSF,” regardless of the name of the 8

mechanism, the concept of sufficient funding to address groups’ concerns, would be the viable solution. Whether all of this is related to the NCF, or separate, would need to be addressed and clarified for further discussion.

CRTC Wireless Code:

Finally, the DWCC would like to refer to the CRTC Wireless Code to support our position.

In item number 334: “The Commission considers that disability-specific plans are currently being offered by WSPs, but that these plans may not be promoted sufficiently. The Commission notes consumers’ frustration with the wireless service industry in receiving customer service with expertise in the area of accessibility.”

This statement is exactly what representatives of our Committee can relate to. The Committee believes there is insufficient promotion or advertisement of disability-specific products and wireless plans especially designated for ASL/LSQ users. Different customer service representatives (CSR) of a WSP are offering different plans and information is NOT consistent in their organization. Lack of knowledge or understanding is evident among CSR as per Committee members’ and ASL/LSQ users’ experiences.

The Committee supports the MAC’s statement, point 38: “Consumer protection: As the examples noted above suggest, Canadians with disabilities are more likely to become victims of the more unscrupulous practices by service providers. This includes, but is not limited to, concerns about roaming, bundled contracts, fine prints, and general lack of transparency in retail contracts.” A disparity of price packages is not only among different WSP’s; this issue is also within the same WSP’s which is what the Wireless Code was supposedly to prevent. The Committee members have noticed the WSP’s are making private individualized packages for each of the ASL/LSQ users and as a result, a wide variety of packages are being offered. The ASL/LSQ community is small, so community members do talk to each other to compare their data plan packages. The Committee believes is this is in contradiction of the points in the Wireless Code, specifically items 334-338.

The DWCC would like to see well-advertised wireless packages in all formats: print, web, and public media. Wireless packages should be standardized and advertised that all outlets of a WSP which should consider that information added within their company’s internal purchasing computer system. Consistency should be the key among representatives of a WSP.