2: Why did the CPUC establish the Program?

State legislation was passed requiring the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to implement a program to distribute assistive telecommunications equipment and relay services for Californians who are certified as having limitations of seeing, hearing, speaking, remembering, or moving.

In compliance with Public Utilities Code § 2881, the Commission has implemented two telecommunications programs for California residents who are deaf, hard of hearing, and/or disabled. These two programs are collectively known as the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP).

   In 1979, legislation was enacted requiring the CPUC to design and implement a program to provide telecommunication devices for the deaf or severely hearing-impaired. This program, now called the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP), fulfills four mandated functions:

  • In 1979, Senate Bill 597 (SB 597) provided for the distribution of telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) to certified deaf or hearing-impaired users.
  • In 1983, Senate Bill 244 (SB 244) mandated the development of a dual party relay system to connect individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired with individuals with no hearing disability. The resulting California Relay Service (CRS) provides Teletypewriter (TTY) users 24-hour contact with any other telephone subscriber.
  • In 1985, Senate Bill 60 (SB 60) mandated the distribution of specialized telecommunications equipment to other certified individuals with hearing, vision, speech, and mobility disabilities.
  • In 2003, Senate Bill 168 (SB 168) changed Public Utilities (P.U.) Code Section 279a enabling the CPUC to transfer advisory oversight of the TTY Placement Program (TPP) to the DDTP and its advisory committees.

The CPUC established a formal structure for the DDTP in 1989 to oversee the operations of the mandated programs, encompassing both the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP), which distributes equipment, and CRS, which provides operators to relay telephone conversations to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled.