Using a telephone is usually just a matter of course for those with no speech disabilities or hearing loss, but Title IV of the ADA addresses the rights of millions of Americans whose disabilities limit their access to communication by telephone.
Title IV amends the Communications Act of 1934 and requires telecommunications companies to make telecommunications relay services (TRS) available for people with hearing loss and/or speech disabilities. A TRS is an operator service that allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, or have a speech disorder to place and receive telephone calls via different devices, designed to accommodate a number of types of hearing loss and/or speech disabilities. The FCC has detailed descriptions of TRS devices on their website.
In 1963 the Emergency Broadcast system was established to transmit emergency messages across radio and television stations. Unfortunately, only people who could hear the notifications were alerted. Title IV declared that, “Any television public service announcement that is produced or funded in whole or in part by any agency or instrumentality of Federal Government shall include closed captioning of the verbal content of such announcement.”
Although the provision of Title IV is quite limited in comparison to the broader scope of the other Titles of the ADA, it allows some protection to people with disabilities regarding their rights to access telecommunications services.