2004 Florida Statutes
Findings, purpose, and legislative intent.
(1) The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) Telecommunications services provide a rapid and essential communications link among the general public and with essential offices and organizations such as police, fire, and medical facilities.
(b) All persons should have basic telecommunications services available to them at reasonable and affordable costs.
(c) A significant portion of Florida's hearing impaired and speech impaired populations has profound disabilities, including dual sensory impairments, which render normal telephone equipment useless without additional specialized telecommunications devices, many of which cost several hundred dollars.
(d) The telecommunications system is intended to provide access to a basic communications network between all persons, and that many persons who have a hearing impairment or speech impairment currently have no access to the basic telecommunications system.
(e) Persons who do not have a hearing impairment or speech impairment are generally excluded from access to the basic telecommunications system to communicate with persons who have a hearing impairment or speech impairment without the use of specialized telecommunications devices.
(f) There exists a need for a telecommunications relay system whereby the cost for access to basic telecommunications services for persons who have a hearing impairment or speech impairment is no greater than the amount paid by other telecommunications customers.
(g) The Federal Government, in order to carry out the purposes established by Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, by the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, endeavored to ensure that interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, to hearing impaired and speech impaired persons in the United States.
(h) Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that the telecommunications companies providing telephone services within the state shall provide telecommunications relay services on or before July 25, 1993, to persons who are hearing impaired or speech impaired within their certificated territories in a manner that meets or exceeds the requirements of regulations to be prescribed by the Federal Communications Commission.
(2) It is the declared purpose of this part to establish a system whereby the citizens of Florida who are hearing impaired, speech impaired, or dual sensory impaired have access to basic telecommunications services at a cost no greater than that paid by other telecommunications services customers, and whereby the cost of specialized telecommunications equipment necessary to ensure that citizens who are hearing impaired, speech impaired, or dual sensory impaired have access to basic telecommunications services and the provision of telecommunications relay service is borne by all the telecommunications customers of the state.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature:
(a) That a telecommunications access system be established to provide equitable basic access to the telecommunications network for persons who are hearing impaired, speech impaired, or dual sensory impaired.
(b) That the telecommunications access system includes a telecommunications relay service system that meets or exceeds the certification requirements of the Federal Communications Commission.
(c) That the telecommunications access system includes the distribution of telecommunications devices for the deaf that are compatible with the telecommunications relay service system and has the capability of incorporating new technologies as they develop.
(d) That the telecommunications access system includes the distribution of specialized telecommunications devices necessary for hearing impaired, speech impaired, or dual sensory impaired persons to access basic telecommunications services.
(e) That the telecommunications access system ensures that users of the telecommunications relay service system pay rates no greater than the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communications services.
(f) That the telecommunications access system be as cost efficient as possible without diminishing the effectiveness or the quality of the system.
(g) That the telecommunications access system uses state-of-the-art technology for specialized telecommunications devices and the telecommunications relay service and encourages the incorporation of new developments in technology, to the extent that it has demonstrated benefits consistent with the intent of this act and is in the best interest of the citizens of this state.
(h) That the value of the involvement of persons who have hearing or speech impairments, and organizations representing or serving those persons, be recognized and such persons and organizations be involved throughout the development, establishment, and implementation of the telecommunications access system through participation on the advisory committee as provided in s. 427.706
(i) That the total cost of providing telecommunications relay services and distributing specialized telecommunications devices be spread equitably among and collected from customers of all local exchange telecommunications companies.
History.--s. 1, ch. 91-111.