Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only

Video Relay Service—VRS

Video Relay Service

Video Relay Service is a form of Telecommunications Relay Service that enables persons with hearing disabilities who use American Sign Language to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text. Video equipment links the VRS user with a TRS operator – called a communications assistant, or CA – so that the VRS user and the CA can see and communicate with each other in signed conversation. Because the conversation between the VRS user and the CA flows much more quickly than with a text-based TRS call, VRS has become an enormously popular form of TRS. For more information about other forms of TRS, see the FCC’s consumer guide on Telecommunications Relay Service (https://www.fcc.gov/guides/telecommunications-relay-service-trs).

How VRS Works

VRS, like other forms of TRS, allows persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to communicate through the telephone system with hearing persons. The VRS caller, using a television or a computer with a video camera device and a broadband (high speed) Internet connection, contacts a VRS CA, who is a qualified interpreter. They communicate with each other in sign language through a video link. The VRS CA then places a telephone call to the party the VRS user wishes to call. The VRS CA relays the conversation back and forth between the parties — in sign language with the VRS user, and by voice with the called party. No typing or text is involved.

The VRS CA can be reached through the VRS provider’s Internet site, or through video equipment attached to a television. Like all TRS calls, the per-minute rate for VRS is not assessed to the caller. VRS providers are compensated for their costs from the Interstate TRS Fund, which the FCC oversees.

Benefits of VRS

VRS offers several features not available with the text-based forms of TRS:

  • VRS allows persons whose primary language is ASL to communicate in ASL, instead of having to type what they want to say.
  • Because consumers using VRS communicate in sign language, they are able to more fully express themselves through facial expressions and body language, which cannot be expressed in text.
  • A VRS call flows back and forth just like a telephone conversation between two hearing persons. For example, the parties can interrupt each other, which they cannot do with a TRS call using a TTY (where the parties have to take turns communicating with the CA).
  • Because the conversation flows more naturally back and forth between the parties, the conversation can take place much more quickly than with a TRS call using a TTY. As a result, the same conversation is much shorter through VRS than it would be through a TRS call using a TTY.
  • VRS calls may be made between ASL users and hearing persons speaking either English or Spanish.

What You Should Know

VRS is different from some of the other forms of TRS in two important ways: the conversation between the VRS user and the CA is made through a video link and sign language, rather than typed text; and the service relies on the Internet, rather than the telephone system, for the connection between the VRS user and the CA. Unlike some other forms of TRS, it is not mandatory. Here are some things you should know:

  • VRS providers must answer 80 percent of all VRS calls within 120 seconds. VRS providers must also offer the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • VRS providers must provide VRS users with a ten-digit number, so the VRS users are able to make 911 calls and have their location information routed to the appropriate emergency service professionals.
  • Preferential treatment of calls is prohibited. Both VRS and TRS providers must handle calls in the order in which they are received. They cannot selectively answer calls from certain consumers or certain locations.
  • Unlike with some of the other forms of TRS, the VRS CA may not be able to offer or handle some call services, such as operator-assisted calls and 900 (pay-per-call) calls.
  • VRS users must pick one default provider for ten-digit numbering. No matter who your default TRS provider is, you can choose any VRS provider when making a VRS call.
  • Equipment distributed by a certified VRS provider must be interoperable with the technology of other certified VRS providers.
  • VRS and TRS providers may not offer you direct or indirect incentives to use their service or to make more or longer VRS or TRS calls.
  • VRS is not the same as video remote interpreting that uses an interpreter located at a remote location through a video connection when two people are together, and they need an interpreter. VRS may not be used in such circumstances. VRS is a type of telephone call.

Choosing More than One Provider

FCC rules do not require you to choose or use only one VRS provider. If you accept VRS equipment and service from one provider, you are free to accept and use VRS equipment and service from a competing provider. A VRS provider (or its installers) may not adjust your hardware or software to restrict access to or diminish the quality of your service from any other VRS provider without your consent. This means that a VRS provider may not force or bully you into providing consent and may not force or bully you into agreeing to remove or alter the equipment that you received from a competing provider. In other words, a VRS provider may not improperly restrict your access to the service that you are receiving from a competing provider.

Although FCC rules require that you have only one “default provider” associated with each videophone number, you are permitted to have multiple default VRS providers, so long as you have a different videophone number associated with each default provider. This means that you have a choice of having one or multiple default providers. If you choose to have more than one default provider, each of your providers must honor your wishes to have more than one default VRS provider.

For more information

For more information about TRS, VRS or IP Relay, or to learn more about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office website at fcc.gov/disability.

Filing a Complaint

If you believe that a VRS provider has not been following the FCC rules, you may file a complaint with us.  To file a complaint or for information about Telecommunication Relay Service, please visit the FCC’s Disability Rights Office at fcc.gov/DRO or contact the FCC’s Disability Rights Office via videophone (844-432-2275), voice phone (1-888-CALL-FCC or 1-888-225-5322), TTY (1-888-TELL-FCC or 1-888-835-5322), or e-mail (DRO@FCC.gov), or write to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

Date Last Updated/Reviewed:
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Was this article helpful?
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Articles

Billing Support
SmartHub Account Creation
SmartHub Online Bill Pay
SmartHub Paperless Billing
SmartHub Pay by Phone
SmartHub Pay Now
General Support
Channel Lineup By Location
Do I have Luminet, Standard, Air, or Rural Service?
Elevate User Guide
General Information and Billing Handbook
General Installation & Drop FAQ
Internet Handbook
Phone Handbook
Residential Wire Maintenance Plan
Seasonal Billing Program
Video Handbook
Internet Support
Cord Cutting
Streaming Devices Support
Streaming Services Support
Email
Email Settings for Email Clients
Email Through Web Browser
HBC EdgeWave Spam Filter
iPhone® Settings for HBC Email
Mac Email Settings
Outlook Email Settings
Thunderbird Email Settings
GigaHome Blast (WiFi 6) Routers
GigaHome Blast u4 Setup
GigaHome Blast u6 Setup
Mesh Setup for GigaHome Blast u4
Mesh Setup for GigaHome Blast u6
GigaHome Gateway Router
GigaHome Gateway Settings
Mesh Setup
HBC GigaHome App
HBC GigaHome App Consumer Guide
HBC GigaHome App Features and Benefits
HBC GigaHome App Installation
HBC GigaHome App Support Videos
WiFi Hotspots
WiFi Hotspots Guidelines
WiFi Hotspots Support
Do I have Luminet, Standard, Air, or Rural Service?
Internet FAQs
Phone Support
Phone Feature Instructions
Call Management Portal Instructions
Call Management Portal Support Videos
Fax to Email
MaX UC Desktop Instructions
MaX UC Mobile Instructions
Virtual Phone
Voice Summit
Voicemail & VM2-GO
Call Completion FAQ
Caribbean Calling Rates
Do I have Luminet, Standard, Air, or Rural Service?
Persons With Disabilities
Residential International Calling Rates
Policies Support
Consumer Labels for Broadband Services
Broadband Facts Air 15 Mbps
Broadband Facts Air 25 Mbps
Broadband Facts Air 40 Mbps
Broadband Facts Air 60 Mbps
Broadband Facts Air Max 30 Mbps
Broadband Facts Air Max 50 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet 40 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet 150 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet 300 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet 600 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet Gigabit
Broadband Facts Luminet 2 Gigabit
Broadband Facts Luminet 5 Gigabit
Broadband Facts Luminet Rural 150 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet Rural 300 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet Rural 600 Mbps
Broadband Facts Luminet Rural Gigabit
Broadband Facts Pickwick 150 Mbps
Broadband Facts Standard 40 Mbps
Broadband Facts Standard 150 Mbps
Broadband Facts Standard 300 Mbps
Broadband Facts Standard 600 Mbps
Broadband Facts Standard Gigabit
Broadband Facts Wabasha MDU 30 Mbps
Policies & Procedures
Broadband Internet Service Disclosure
Caller ID Spoofing
Commercial Acceptable Use Policy and Customer Agreement
CPNI Opt Out Information
CPNI Privacy Information
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Counter Claim
DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Policy
E911 Battery Backup Policy
E911 Service
FCC Emergency Alert System (EAS) Mandatory Accessibility Notice
Identity Theft Notice
Internet Acceptable Use Policy
MN Relay Annual Customer Notice
National Do Not Call Registry
PBX Hacker Notice
Residential Acceptable Use Policy and Customer Agreement
Telephone Assistance Program
Toll Fraud Policy
Public Information
711 for Telecommunications Relay Service
Accessibility to Emergency Information on Television
Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service
Minnesota Relay
Minnesota Telephone Discounts Brochure
Public Service Announcements
Telecommunications Relay Service—TRS
Video Relay Service—VRS
Voicemail System Hacking
VoIP and 911 Service
Video Support
Channel Lineups
Business Essentials
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Altura
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Cannon Falls, Castle Rock, Miesville, and New Trier, MN
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Chatfield
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Dover
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Eyota
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Kellogg
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Lake City
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Lewiston
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Plainview & Elgin
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Red Wing
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Rollingstone & Minneiska
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Rural Winona County
Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—St. Charles, MN
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Stockton
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Utica
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Wabasha
Luminet Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Winona
Expanded Business Essentials Channel Lineup—Winona, MN
Bulk Channel Lineup
Bulk Channel Lineup—Red Wing
Bulk Channel Lineup—SMU/WSU Winona
Bulk Channel Lineup—St. Charles and Winona
Bulk Channel Lineup—Wabasha
GigaWorld Essentials Plus
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Altura, Lewiston, and Stockton, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Cedar Valley, East Burns Valley, Elba, Minneiska, Ridgeway, Rollingstone, St. Charles, Utica, Wilson, Winona, and Witoka, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Cannon Falls, Miesville, and New Trier, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Dover and Eyota, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Elgin, Kellogg, Plainview, and Wabasha, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Lake City, MN
GigaWorld Essentials Plus Channel Lineup – Red Wing and Wacouta, MN
Luminet Channel Lineup
Luminet Channel Lineup—Altura
Luminet Channel Lineup—Cannon Falls
Luminet Channel Lineup—Castle Rock, Miesville, New Trier, and Nininger Township
Luminet Channel Lineup—Chatfield
Luminet Channel Lineup—Dover
Luminet Channel Lineup—Eyota
Luminet Channel Lineup—Kellogg
Luminet Channel Lineup—Lake City
Luminet Channel Lineup—Lewiston
Luminet Channel Lineup—Plainview & Elgin
Luminet Channel Lineup—Red Wing, Wacouta, & Prairie Island Indian Community
Luminet Channel Lineup—Rollingstone & Minneiska
Luminet Channel Lineup—Rural Winona County
Luminet Channel Lineup—Stockton
Luminet Channel Lineup—Utica
Luminet Channel Lineup—Wabasha
Luminet Channel Lineup—Winona
Standard Channel Lineup
Standard Channel Lineup – St. Charles
Standard Channel Lineup – Winona RF
Channel Lineup By Location
Cord Cutting
Streaming Devices Support
Streaming Services Support
DVR and Whole-Home DVR
Elevate DVR and WHDVR FAQs
Luminet Whole Room DVR
Standard DVR Instructions
Standard Whole Room DVR
Elevate Support
Elevate DVR and WHDVR FAQs
Elevate Parental Controls FAQs
Elevate Support Videos
Elevate User Guide
Elevate VOD FAQs
Parental Controls
Elevate Parental Controls FAQs
Luminet Parental Control Instructions
Standard Parental Controls Instructions
PPV (Pay-Per-View)
PPV Luminet Instructions
PPV Standard Instructions
Remotes
Luminet Service Remotes
Amino Willow Remote
CLIKR-5 Remote
Palamino4 Remote
PHAZR-5 Remote
Titan Remote
Universal Easy Clicker Remote
Standard Service Remotes
ARRIS MP2000 Universal Remote
CLIKR-5 Remote
Evolution HD-uDTA Remote
Experience Netflix Remote
Motorola DTA100 Remote
Motorola HD—uDTA Remote
PHAZR-5 Remote
Universal DTA Remote
Universal Easy Clicker Remote
Set-Top Box Instructions
DTA Set-Top Box Instructions
Evolution HD DTA Set-Top-Box Instructions
Motorola DTA 100 Set-Top-Box Instructions
Motorola HD DTA Set-Top-Box Instructions
TV2-Go
TV2-Go Instructions
VOD (Video-On-Demand)
Elevate VOD FAQs
VOD Luminet Instructions
Channel Lineup By Location
Do I have Luminet, Standard, Air, or Rural Service?