Skip to main content
Accessibility|Contact|Privacy|Terms of Service

FCC Approves Proposal to Utilize Real-time Text to Aid People with Disabilities

  • Published: 2016-04-29 : Author: U.S. FCC : Contact: fcc.gov
  • Synopsis: Commission moves forward on accessibility proposal to modernize wireless phone compatibility with advanced text communications.

Main Document

"Real-time text enables the full integration of people with disabilities into IP communications networks as they become widely available."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a proposal to utilize real-time text to ensure that people with disabilities who rely on text to communicate have accessible and effective telephone access. As communications networks migrate to IP-based environments, this technology would allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today proposes to recognize real-time text as a replacement technology for text telephones, also known as TTY devices, on wireless phone networks, starting in December 2017 for larger carriers. It also begins to look into the possibility of a similar transition for IP-based landline phone networks.

Unlike most text messaging services, real-time text enables text to be sent immediately as it is typed, without pressing "send." In this manner, the person receiving the text can read what the person creating the text is saying as soon as he or she creates it - thus fostering a conversational rhythm to the interaction, much as one person speaking can still hear the other person even if they talk over each other. By not requiring users to hit "send", 911 call center personnel, for example, will be able to receive even incomplete messages.

Real-time text enables the full integration of people with disabilities into IP communications networks as they become widely available. It allows consumers using text communications to interact directly with consumers on voice phones, and vice versa. This technology can also generally function in off-the-shelf devices like common smartphones.

Since the 1970s, people with disabilities who rely on text have been using TTYs, an antiquated typewriter technology which is limited in speed (60 wpm), characters and capabilities. Because of its limitations, TTY usage is dramatically declining and TTY technology - built to operate on traditional circuit-switched phone networks - faces considerable challenges over IP networks.

In light of these difficulties, over the past year, the Commission has granted wireless carriers' waiver requests of the Commission's requirements to support TTY as they committed to developing and deploying real-time text services on their wireless IP networks. They and other stakeholders generally agree on the technical feasibility of RTT, as well as its superior reliability, efficiency, character sets, features and speed over TTY. Today's NPRM responds to AT&T's petition asking the FCC to initiate a rulemaking that would authorize the industry-wide substitution of real-time text for TTY technology to meet accessibility requirements on wireless networks.

In addition to starting a modernization process for accessibility on wireless networks and asking for input on how a similar transition might work on landline networks, today's notice ensures that real-time text will be able to interface effectively with TTYs, which are still utilized by some consumers. The notice also proposes that wireless phones and other communications devices be able to support real-time text services. In addition, it proposes interoperability measures to effectively integrate real-time text services across communications systems.

This action also proposes a list of essential functionalities to be supported following this transition. These include the ability to initiate and receive calls from voice phone numbers and to allow simultaneous text-to-voice and voice-to-text communications. The item also proposes that systems that use real-time text support full 911 emergency communications, function consistently with low error rates, be compatible with technologies like screen readers, and be generally compatible with features voice phone users expect like leaving messages and conference calling. Many of these features were recommended for inclusion in the NPRM by the FCC's Disability Advisory Committee, which includes both industry and consumer stakeholders.

Similar Topics

1 : Our Digital Remains Should be Treated with Same Care and Respect as Physical Remains : University of Oxford.
2 : Smartphone Addiction is More Addiction to Social Interaction : Frontiers.
3 : Cognition and Emotion Play a Role in Predicting Quality of Children's Friendships : University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
4 : Stuttering: Stop Signals in the Brain Prevent Fluent Speech : Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
5 : Social Networking Helps Keep People Healthy : Society for Consumer Psychology.
From our Communication Information section - Full List (86 Items)


Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





1 : Autism Prevalence Increases to 1 in 59 US Children
2 : Yelp Reviews of Nursing Homes Tend to Focus on Staff Attitudes and Responsiveness
3 : Non-Invasive Spinal Stimulation Enables Paralyzed People to Regain Use of Hands
4 : What if You Could Know Your Mild Cognitive Impairment Would Not Progress?
5 : Millennials Fail to Understand Dangers of Tanning
6 : Appetite Loss After Exercising Explained
7 : Bias Keeps Women with Higher Body Weight Away From the Doctor
8 : Smart Hoteliers are Building a Healthier Future


Disclaimer: This site does not employ and is not overseen by medical professionals. Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.

© 2004 - 2018 Disabled World™