Intervention: Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (Intervenor 263)

Document Name: 2015-134.223983.2394486.Intervention(1fbl$01!).doc
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Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-134-1
Intervention of the
Canadian Association of the Deaf - Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC)
Twitter: @CADASC
Website: www.cad.ca
July 14, 2015
Frank ****
**** Roots
President
Executive Director
Suite 606, 251 Bank ****
Suite 606, 251 Bank ****
Ottawa, Ontario *** ***
Ottawa, Ontario *** ***
******@***.com
******@***.com
INTRODUCTION

1. The Canadian Association of the Deaf - Association des Sourds du Canada (CAD-ASC) is a national organization that undertakes information, research, education, and community support activities on behalf of Deaf persons and other Canadians with similar needs and interests. Founded in 1940, it is the oldest national disabled consumers organization in the country. The entire board of CAD-ASC is composed of Deaf persons, with the affairs of the Association have always been under the administration of Deaf persons.

2. CAD-ASC has participated in numerous CRTC proceedings in connection with telecommunications and broadcasting matters that affect the Deaf community. The CAD-ASC estimates that there are approximately 350,000 Deaf Canadians who uses Sign Language (ASL and LSQ).

3. In **** of 2015, CAD-ASC adopted the “Deaf Wireless Canada Committee” (DWCC), which consists of more than 20 people across the country. DWCC focuses on wireless telecom issues, and it will be submitting its own paper in this proceeding. We wish to confirm that CAD-ASC and DWCC support each other’s positions on telecommunication services. Specifically, the DWCC submission addresses the following concerns which are shared by CAD-ASC:

· ASL & LSQ users are being forced to pay for voice minutes that they do not (cannot) use because of their disability.

· ASL & LSQ users who are determined to remove the voice plan from their wireless contracts end up spending at least 1.5 hours dealing with an hierarchy of management until the most senior manager finally approves their request. This is effectively a barrier to their equality of treatment and access to services.

· Some ASL & LSQ users have experienced frequent “bill shock” due to higher data usage from their intensive use of video communications.
· Current data plans may not adequately meet ASL & LSQ users’ needs once Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), Video Relay Services (VRS) and more video messaging apps become available.
· There is a serious lack of fair data plans offered specifically to ASL & LSQ users. Few data plans take into account the Sign language user’s need for high-quality video.
· The disparity of data plan costs is often grossly unfair to ASL & LSQ users. For example, one person paid $43 for 6 GB data usage and unlimited texts, while another person paid $63 for 2 GB data usage and 2500 texts.
· The lack of advertising of data plans for ASL & LSQ users means that quite frequently neither the consumer nor even the data plan salesperson is aware of the existence of such plans.

4. CAD-ASC is aware that that the Commission regards its Social Policy Office (SPO) as the equivalent of the Disability Access Office (DAO) of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. We would argue that while the two respective offices may deal with many of the same issues, there is an enormous difference: the DAO employs persons with disabilities – indeed, it is led by **** Hlibock, a well-known Deaf community leader – whereas the SPO has many wonderful employees but none of them Deaf and, as far as we know, none of them with a profound communication disability. (We are aware of one employee with a visual disability; this is not a communication disability affecting his access to the phone system.) 5. We also understand that the Commission considers itself financially unable to create a Disability Access Office. We propose that until such an office becomes financially viable, the Commission should convene permanent Disability Advisory Council that would serve as a formal liaison between the Social Affairs Office and the community. The SPO would be responsible for funding two meetings of the Council per year. Membership in the Council would be chosen from a limited number (perhaps 10) of the 18 national disability consumer organizations. This is a financially viable compromise between establishing a formal Disability Access Office on the one hand, and continuing to use the Social Policy Office as the de facto disability affairs office on the other hand GENERAL COMMENTS

6. We note that payphone TTYs in public places are declining in numbers. The Commission will recall it was the CAD-ASC that petitioned for a pay-TTY to be placed in all banks of three or more pay-phones, a request the Commission approved and thenceforth required the ILECs to implement. Pay-phones in general are being removed at a speedy rate across the country due to the mistaken assumption that “everybody has a cellphone nowadays”. Not only are pay-TTYs disappearing along with the pay-phones, the implementation of the Commission’s order has apparently fallen off the radar with the ILECs rationalizing that since they are heading towards the final elimination of all pay-phones, what would be the point of installing pay-TTYs in them? But pay-TTYs are still a vital means of communication for many Deaf individuals. We request, therefore, that the Commission require the ILECs to report on the number of pay-TTYs still extant, the number of pay-TTYs added and removed in the past five years, and the plans for their continued operation. Since this is a basic telecommunications service, we consider it appropriate to raise this issue in this proceeding.

7. Also appropriate to this proceeding, we believe, is that the Commission should make broadcasters a party to it and require them to file reports on the digital streaming of their programming, including especially reports on making such programming accessible (e.g., via captioning or interpreting). Such reports will be part of their discrete licencing proceedings but we request they cross-submit their reports from those proceedings to this proceeding, because ensuring that basic telecom content is accessible is very much part and parcel of ensuring that basic telecom service is accessible, which is equally on broadcast that should be on same video content portrayed on the Internet site.

Note: For the rest of this submission, we follow the numbering in Appendix B of the Notice. Hence, the paragraph numbering now reverts to 1, 2, 3, etc. to match the numbering in Appendix B.
Canadians’ evolving needs for telecommunications services:

1. (a) All of the services listed by the CRTC in this section are vital for Deaf and hard of hearing Canadians. Services delivered electronically enable us to surmount many if not all of the barriers that prevent us from full participation in society. Telehealth and emerging mechanisms such as Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) provide us with equal access to health care, including mental health services (there are only two Signing Deaf psychologists in the entire country, both of them located in ****, ON, and only a handful of Signing non-Deaf psychologists, all of them located in major cities only, which means they are inaccessible to the majority of Deaf Canadians for in-person consultations). E-commerce relieves us of the communication barriers that exist every time we have to go into a bank or financial institution. Distance education is far more accessible and far less expensive to be made accessible than bricks-and-mortar education. Electronically-delivered relay services offer us greater access to the phone; and when Video Relay Service (VRS) is finally operational, it will provide us with true equality of access to the phone for the first time in the entire history of telephony. Telecom services level the playing-field for Deaf Canadians when they deliver accessibility.

(b) For Deaf Canadians the crucial element is the capacity to deliver instantaneous live video. This is an expensive mechanism and it requires sufficient speed and capacity in the technology at all points. Slow speed, throttling, insufficient capacity, poor video quality all become the newest form of barriers against full accessibility.

(c) CAD-ASC recently completed a survey of nearly 400 Canadians from coast to coast, including Yukon, and found that 40% are “not working”; all the rest are “precariously employed” (self-employed and/or contractual). Seventy-nine percent earn less than $50,000/year; the largest segment (nearly 30%) earn less than $15,000/year. In short, financial issues are a profound barrier to the full participation of Deaf Canadians in the digital economy.

Literacy, both digital and linguistic, are an equally formidable barrier. Twenty-five years ago, CAD-ASC conducted a study that suggested as many as 65% of Deaf Canadians are functionally illiterate. No follow-up study has been done, but the evidence of our everyday interactions suggest the situation is almost certainly no better today. So even though the explosion of accessibility on or via the Internet should be viewed as a tremendous benefit to us, it brings its own built-in barriers: a heavy reliance on the written word, and the need for specifically digital literacy (i.e., trying to obtain on-line help for activities such as maneuvering menus and implementing upload instructions). Deaf people need and prefer Signed video interactions to overcome these barriers, which brings us back to the urgent need for high-speed and affordable broadband that can deliver two-way video with a quality equal to “live, on-the-spot” personal interaction.

CAD-ASC has conducted two projects in collaboration with the Office of the Commissioner of Privacy of Canada in which we developed information about on-line security, privacy, and protection targeting Deaf Canadians. These scams and threats, like all on-line scams and threats, increase in numbers and sophistication exponentially. ISIS has developed recruiting videos that use Deaf militants Signing to targeted Deaf audiences; despite our urgent warning to the Canadian Government’s anti-terrorism programs, this is not considered anything of interest to the non-Deaf community. Nothing could be more wrong-headed. Almost 60% of Deaf Canadian youths earn less than $15,000/year and 45.5% of them are not working; this is exactly the audience most susceptible to ISIS, and with the vast majority of Deaf youth unable to access information or news because of literacy limitations and a lack of captioned or interpreted videos and newscasts, a Signed video such as ISIS distributes could be the audience’s only channel of information about the Islamic wars.

(d) Any device (such as an HD videocam) and/or service (such as VRS) providing high-speed video access is an enabler for Deaf Canadians. It is as simple as that.

(e) Full accessibility is achievable for Deaf Canadians only through high-speed, reliable, inexpensive video devices and services. There is an extremely high penetration rate in the Deaf community; indeed, CAD-ASC has often remarked that it was the Deaf community worldwide that was the first to really grasp the potential of devices such as Blackberries to overcome the communication barriers we face every day. The upcoming launch of VRS in Canada will have an incredible impact upon our participation, as will the spread of VRI. VRI needs its own funding mechanism to assure national equality of access to services in situations outside the realm of VRS. **** VRS and VRI require high-speed and inexpensive video accessibility in order to fulfil the potential of the digital economy to remove all barriers to full participation of Deaf Canadians in society and the world.

2. For the Deaf community, 5 Mbps is acceptable as a bare minimum for both download and upload; 1 Mbps is not. In fact, the CAD-ASC office once experienced a situation in which it took 36 hours to upload a 10-minute Signed video at a speed of 1 Mbps! The goal should be to achieve at least 10 Mbps for both download and upload within the next five years. Technology is developing so incredibly fast these days that the infrastructure needs to be upgraded at a pace at least double its current pace.

Commission’s role regarding access to basic telecommunications services:

3 (a) Yes, the underlying technology should be considered a basic service. How can the telecom service be delivered if it does not include the technology through which it is delivered? It would be like saying the chassis of an automobile is considered a basic service but the engine to drive it is not. Without the engine, the chassis is both useless and inaccessible.

(b) The idea that consumers should be locked into any kind of minimum length of contract for basic services is irrational and obsolete. Even mortgages and loans contracts have more flexibility and portability than telecom contracts these days.

(c) CAD-ASC recognizes that the telecom service providers need and have a right to earn a profit on their services. At the same time, we point out that special prices and/or discounts for specific market segments are the rule rather than the exception; discounts for senior citizens on practically everything from meals to transport are just one example. Another example is the long-standing 50% discount on TTY calls for registered users. Given the low income and high unemployment rates in the Deaf community, special rates for telecom services are a necessity. Too, it must be kept in mind that none of these services are yet fully accessible to us and therefore we should not be charged full price for them. Our need for high-speed, high-capacity video transmission as a basis for accessibility means special deals are required to accommodate this need and to reduce or eliminate the charges for voice-data services that we could never use. The principle of accessibility is that the person with the disability must never be forced to pay for the means of accessibility. You would not require a wheelchair-user to pay for a ramp; by the same token, you cannot require a Deaf person to pay for accessibility to otherwise-inaccessible telecom services.

4. There is more than one hundred years of proof that market forces do not work to assure Deaf Canadians can access anything. CAD-ASC has had to use the Commission and the federal government (e.g., Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) and the law courts and the human rights commissions to force telecom service providers and stakeholders to provide every little bit of accessibility. As **** Vlug, one of our Past Presidents, has said on many occasions, the providers have had to be “dragged kicking and screaming every inch of the way”. Forceful and rigorously implemented and monitored regulations and requirements are the only way.

5. The Commission has to be the force that pushes telecom service providers to actually deliver availability and accessibility. We use the word “force” with full meaning: you must be forceful and cannot slither out of your responsibilities with spineless “recommendations” and “encouragements” and “urgings”. You must require availability and accessibility, and you must be prepared to impose real sanctions/penalties for any and all failures to achieve these goals.

6. Where target speeds will not be achieved by the end of 2015, the Commission needs to bite and not just growl. It needs to impose penalties and not merely offer deadline extensions. Building a telecom infrastructure should be treated no differently than building a transportation infrastructure such as a bridge or a road: penalties are imposed at a daily or weekly rate for failure to meet deadlines in the latter case, and they should be imposed the same way in the former case. The “information highway” is still a highway.

7. CAD-ASC is very aware of the manner in which Canada’s northern territories lag behind the rest of the country in all respects of telecom services. It is not only Northwestel’s area that lags, but also Yukon’s infrastructure, which has limited that territory to only one or two broad-based service providers. In the case of the Deaf community, like the general population of the north, it is extremely widely scattered, isolated, insecure, and economically limited. We believe, therefore, that the Commission is correct in establishing a mechanism designed to support telecom services throughout the north, not only in Norwestel’s territory.

Regulatory measures for basic telecommunications service:

8. The Commission’s basic service objective is rooted in the ideal that all regions should have access to affordable, high-quality telecom services. CAD-ASC supports this ideal with the caveat that the word accessible is missing. The services may be affordable and they may be high-quality, but without accessibility they do not meet the objective of being available to all people in all regions. We note specifically that the Commission cites one of these services to be “low-speed data transmission at local rates”. “Low-speed” is insufficient for video transmissions; “data transmission” does not necessarily include video transmission; and “local rates” implies no discount or special rate packages for Deaf people. CAD-ASC recommends that the Commission revisit this particular element of its “basic service objective”.

9. Broadband Internet service must be defined as a basic telecommunication service. We take this position not only on the need of Deaf Canadians to have the high-speed and high-quality service required for fluid video transmission but also on the reality that this is the direction the world is moving. Work, entertainment, news, socializing, gaming, in fact every element of life in the 21st century is increasingly being conducted via the Internet, and consequently the need for broadband to handle all of this content has already become all-encompassing (and hence basic/essential) nowadays.

10. CAD-ASC has frequently emphasized our position that any and all local service subsidy funds, such as the National Contribution Fund, can no longer be limited to only TSPs. (See our comments in the VRS proceedings passim.) It makes no sense to continue to restrict the requirement to contribute to such funds to merely the former monopoly telcos. The telecom services being delivered today are not being delivered solely by those telcos, so why should they continue to be the only ones paying into the funds? CAD-ASC holds that every Internet service stakeholder (resellers, hardware services, cable and satellite providers, wireless service providers, etc.) should be required to contribute to the funds.

11. Likewise, CAD-ASC is consistent in rejecting the $10 million revenue minimum requirement for making contributions. There should be no minimum at all. We would accept classes of contribution based on revenues, by which those earning less than $10 million/year would pay a lesser amount of contribution than those earning more than $10 million/year. But there should be no exceptions in being required to pay some contribution. Moreover, all revenues should be included in calculating the amount to be paid.

12. The provision of video transmissions will likely need subsidization; this has been established in the decisions regarding payment of the costs involved in creating and operating the Video Relay Service in Canada. CAD-ASC therefore supports the concept of subsidization for the implementation, delivery, and continuance of high-quality, high-speed video telecom services. It is most probable that the smaller delivery services will require this subsidization. We suggest the NCF could be the interim venue of such subsidization until such time as a dedicated Telecom Accessibility Fund is established (see below).

13. The Commission has created a number of funds for specific purposes, some related to accessibility such as the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund. CAD-ASC recommends a separate fund be established as a Telecom Accessibility Fund (TAF). The TAF would be similar to the Telecom Relay Services fund that has long been a feature of the Federal Communications Commission in the USA. We emphasize again that all TSPs, ISPs, WSPs, etc. must be required to contribute to the TAF, not merely the TSPs.

(a) The TAF would fund accessibility services specific to Deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and non-speaking consumers; that is, Video Relay Service, Internet Protocol Relay Service, TTY-based Message Relay Service, voiceover relay, etc. It would differ from the BAF and similar funds in being specific to services for people who have “communication disabilities”, so-called.

(b) Funding must be national.

(c) Eligibility should be extended to all service providers who meet certain conditions. One such condition must be the requirement to meet quality of service indicators; we stress that these indicators must be developed not by the Commission alone or in consultation only with the providers but with the consumers, i.e., the people who will actually be using these services on a daily basis as a necessity of their lives.

(d) Funding amounts should be determined by costs to provide services. Since the TAF should be open to all service providers, there cannot be a competitive bidding process.
(e) Again, there cannot be a competitive bidding process, and therefore funding should be distributed based on revenues and costs.
(f) We are not able to respond to this question at this time. We will be prepared to respond if we are invited to present to the Commission.
(g) Yes, the Commission should set a maximum retail rate for any subsidized telecom service.
(h) No, the TAF is complementary to the existing subsidy mechanisms. It does not replace or eliminate such subsidies.
Conclusion

We request to appear at the public hearing. The CAD-ASC respectfully requests that two representatives be invited to present at the public consultation hearing in order to expand upon ideas and concerns that we have raised in this submission, and to address any concerns or questions that the Commission may have. The two representatives will be Frank **** (President) and **** Roots (Executive Director). The aforementioned DWCC will request to make its own presentation on wireless issues with four presenters, outlined in their own submission paper, as part of a joint presentation with CAD-ASC. We request ASL-English Interpreters and LSQ-French Interpreters at the public hearing.

Sincerely,
Sincerely,
Frank ****, President
Jim Roots, Executive Director
***END OF DOCUMENT***
� Deaf Wireless Canada Committee Intervention Paper, **** 3

Intervention: Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada (Intervenor 263)

Document Name: 2015-134.223983.2517315.Intervention(1hydf01!).html

We request to appear at the public hearing. The CAD-ASC respectfully requests that two representatives be invited to present at the public consultation hearing in order to expand upon ideas and concerns that we have raised in this submission, and to address any concerns or questions that the Commission may have. The two representatives will be Frank **** (President) and **** Roots (Executive Director). The aforementioned Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC) will request to make its own presentation on wireless issues with four presenters, outlined in their own submission paper, as part of a joint presentation with CAD-ASC. We request ASL-English Interpreters and LSQ-French Interpreters at the public hearing. Raisons pour comparaitre / Reasons for appearanceWe request to appear at the public hearing. The CAD-ASC respectfully requests that two representatives be invited to present at the public consultation hearing in order to expand upon ideas and concerns that we have raised in this submission, and to address any concerns or questions that the Commission may have. The two representatives will be Frank **** (President) and **** Roots (Executive Director). The aforementioned Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC) will request to make its own presentation on wireless issues with four presenters, outlined in their own submission paper, as part of a joint presentation with CAD-ASC. We request ASL-English Interpreters and LSQ-French Interpreters at the public hearing.