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Ottawa, 17 March 2010

DELIVERED BY EMAIL

Mr. James Roots
Executive Director
Canadian Association of the Deaf
251 Bank St., Suite 203
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3
info@cad.ca

Dear Mr. Roots:

Subject:   Follow-up to Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430 Accessibility of telecommunications and broadcasting services (the Accessibility Policy)

Commission staff is writing in response to the Canadian Association of the Deaf’s (CAD’s) letter dated 22 January 2010.  In that letter, CAD requested that the Commission take immediate action to ensure that the telecommunications service providers (TSPs), wireless service providers (WSPs), and television broadcasters implement the Commission’s directions in regard to consultation with consumers in the following areas, in accordance with the Accessibility Policy: 

  1. Telecommunications Services – The development and implementation of Internet Relay Services (IPRS), Video Relay Service (VRS) trials (Bell Canada and TELUS), improved emergency (9-1-1) telecom services, mobile services, improved customer information and support, promotion of disability-specific services and products, and improved website accessibility; and
  2. Broadcasting Services – A number of directions to the television broadcasters in regard to closed captioning, including some specific to the Working Group that focuses on captioning standards.

CAD’s letter also noted that, to date, CAD has not been contacted or informed of any such consultations.


With regard to item 1., we note that in the Accessibility Policy the Commission set out its requirements for consultation in certain areas.  The Commission requested the WSPs to hold consultations in regard to mobile wireless handsets, and the Commission encouraged the TSPs to hold consultations in regard to the promotion of disability-specific services and products.  We also note that, with respect to Bell Canada’s and TELUS’ IPRS and VRS initiatives, the proposals that were submitted by these companies for use of deferral account funds included consultative elements.  These proposals were approved by the Commission in Telecom Decision 2008-1, Use of deferral account funds to improve access to telecommunications services for persons with disabilities and to expand broadband services to rural and remote communities (the Deferral Account Proceeding). 

Thus, in response to CAD’s request, Commission staff will request the relevant participants of the Accessibility and Deferral Account Proceedings to report on actual and planned consultations in regard to mobile wireless handsets, the promotion of disability-specific services and products, and Bell Canada’s and TELUS’ IPRS and VRS initiatives. 

As to the other telecommunications items listed in CAD’s letter, Commission staff notes that the Commission did not set out explicit direction in regard to consultation.  However, we note that in Decision 2008-1, the Commission encouraged the ILECs to continue to work with advocacy organizations to further the important public objective of accessible telecommunications services for persons with disabilities, including consulting with regional organizations as appropriate.

With respect to item 2., we have been corresponding with the CAB since October 2009 in an effort to clarify the groups’ status and the specific deliverables as required by the Commission in the Accessibility Policy.  We are enclosing this correspondence in this letter for your information; however a brief summary of the exchanges follows below: 

  1. First, the CAB filed a letter dated 21 October 2009 to the Commission in response to the direction set out in the Accessibility Policy pertaining to the status of the filing of information regarding the administration, expanded membership, and an action plan for the English- and French-language closed captioning working groups, as required by the Commission.  The CAB’s response primarily focused on its plan to hire a facilitator to assist with the next steps for the English working group.  The CAB stated that details regarding the administration, expanded membership, and an action plan would be forthcoming. The Commission responded with a letter dated 28 October 2009 asking for confirmation of when the information required would be submitted.  The Commission also asked at that time that the CAB confirm that the Working Groups would meet their deliverable of 21 January 2010, as summarized in paragraph 97 of Regulatory Policy 2009-430.
  2. The CAB informed us by email on 4 November 2009 that the information required by the Commission would be filed 30 November 2009. At the same time, the CAB confirmed it intended to have both “extended working groups up and running by the beginning of December 2009 and, accordingly, we are confident that they will be able to meet the next deliverable of 21 January 2010 set by the Commission” in its Accessibility Policy.  However, in the intervening period, the CAB began a review of its own structure, which resulted in them not submitting the 30 November 2009 filing. 
  3. The Commission’s Vice Chair of Broadcasting wrote to the Chair of the CAB on 18 December 2009, expressing concern about the status of the closed captioning working groups in light of the organizational review that was being conducted at the CAB.  He asked the CAB to provide, by 8 January 2010, updated information on the status and progress of the various commitments made by it and Canadian broadcasting licensees in previous correspondence noted above.  The CAB responded on 8 January 2010 by stating that a restructuring of the CAB would likely have an impact on the working groups and therefore it would not be in a position to clarify the details on the status of the working groups until the review of the CAB was complete.  It was our understanding that the CAB would be communicating with the members of the working groups in January.  Subsequently, on 18 February 2010, the CAB publically announced that it was dissolving and will officially cease operations 1 June 2010.

To date, no further details have been forthcoming from the CAB with respect to the working groups and evidently, the members of the working groups have not been informed by the CAB of the above events.  Therefore, in light of all of the above and as a result of this most recent announcement by the CAB, we are endeavouring to re-convene the English and French-language closed captioning working groups as soon as possible.  It is our intention to communicate with all members in the next weeks in this regard.  In the meantime, we hope we can count on your continued support and participation to ensure that the goals for quality of closed captioning set out in the Commission’s Accessibility Policy are met.  

Should you have further questions about any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.  Please note that the Commission encourages the electronic submission of all correspondence, via the following link to “Filing electronic documents”: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/g100.htm

Yours sincerely

ORIGINAL SIGNED BY:

Martine Vallee
Director, Social & Consumer Policy
Policy Development and Research

c.c.    M-L. Hayward, CRTC 819-953-7274
J. Britten, CRTC 1-902-426-7382
distribution list attached

ATTACHMENTS: 

  • CAB letter to CRTC dated 21 October 2009
    CRTC staff response dated 28 October 2009
    CAB email to CRTC dated 4 November 2009
    CRTC Vice-Chair of Broadcasting letter to CAB dated 18 December 2009
    CAB response to CRTC dated on 8 January 2010

Distribution List:

Bell Aliant Regional Communications, Limited Partnership Bell Aliant Communications régionales, société en commandit

1 Germain Street

P.O. Box 1430

Canada

St. John , NB  E2L 4K2

Richard   Stephen
Director of Regulatory Matters

TEL:506-694-6512

FAX:506-694-2473

regulatory@bell.aliant.ca

Bell Canada

160 Elgin Street

19th Floor

Canada

Ottawa , ON  K2P 2C4

David   Palmer
Director, Regulatory Affairs

TEL:613-785-6280

FAX:613-560-0472

bell.regulatory@bell.ca

MTS Allstream Inc.

45 O’Connor Street

Suite 1400

Canada

Ottawa , ON  K1P 1A4

Teresa   Griffin-Muir
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs

TEL:613-688-8790

FAX:613-688-8303

iworkstation@mtsallstream.com

Shaw Communications Inc.

Suite 900, 630 - 3rd Ave SW

Canada

Calgary , AB  T2P 4L4

Jean   Brazeau
Vice President, Telecommunications

TEL:403-750-4500

FAX:403-750-4501

 

Regulatory@sjrb.ca

Cogeco Câble Canada inc. Cogeco Cable Canada Inc.

5 Place Ville Marie

Bureau 1700

Canada

Montréal , QC  H3B 0B3

Michel   Messier
Directeur, Affaires réglementaires, Telecommunications

TEL:514-764-4750

FAX:514-874-2625

 

michel.messier@cogeco.com

 

Bragg Communications Incorporated

6080 Young Street

Suite 801

Canada

Halifax , NS  B3K 5M3

Natalie   MacDonald
Vice President, Regulatory Matters

TEL:902-431-9979

FAX:902-446-9979

Regulatory.Matters@corp.eastlink.ca

Saskatchewan Telecommunications

2121 Saskatchewan Drive

12th Floor

Canada

Regina , SK  S4P 3Y2

John   Meldrum
Vice President Corporate Council & Regulatory Affairs

TEL:306-777-4208

FAX:306-565-6216

document.control@sasktel.sk.ca

Quebecor Média inc. Quebecor Media Inc.

612 St. Jacques, 15 étage Tour Sud

Canada

Montréal , QC  H3C 4M8

Dennis   Béland
Directeur, Affaires réglementaires, Télécommunications

TEL:514-380-4792

FAX:514-380-4664

regaffairs@quebecor.com

Rogers Communications Inc.

333 Bloor Street East

Canada

Toronto , ON  M4W 1G9

Ken   Engelhart
Vice President, Regulatory

TEL:416-935-2525

FAX:416-935-4655

ken.engelhart@rci.rogers.com

TELUS Communications Company Société TELUS Communications

215, rue Slater

Canada

Ottawa , ON  K1P 0A6

Ted   Woodhead
Vice-président, Politique de télécommunications & réglem.

TEL:613-597-8368

FAX:613-597-8306

regulatory.affairs@telus.com

Consultation criteria is set out in the governing regulatory policies or decisions.