Message Relay Services
In Canada, the CRTC requires two types of message relay services (MRS) be made available to all Canadians: (1) TTY relay service and (2) IP relay service.
Message relay services enable people with a hearing or speech disability to make and receive telephone calls via text with the assistance of a relay operator. In an MRS call, the relay operator communicates with the person who has a hearing or speech disability via text and with the other party via voice.
- Teletypewriter (TTY) relay service
TTY relay service is offered to all home phone subscribers in Canada. In a TTY relay service call, a person with a hearing or speech disability uses a TTY and dials 7-1-1 to reach a relay operator. A TTY is a telephone-typewriter hybrid that transmits text-based messages to another TTY over the telephone network. Conversely, the other party may call the person with a disability by dialing a toll-free number (1-800-855-0511) to reach a TTY relay operator.
- Internet protocol (IP) relay service
IP relay service is offered to all home phone subscribers in Canada and will, by June 2019, be offered to all mobile phone subscribers. In an IP relay service call, a person with a hearing or speech disability uses an Internet-enabled device (e.g., computer, laptop, tablet, mobile phone) to reach a relay operator by logging into the IP relay provider’s web portal. Conversely, the other party may call the person with a disability by dialing a toll-free number to reach an IP relay operator.
In 2018, the CRTC introduced quality standards to enhance the user experience of MRS. The new standards are, for example, providing MRS users faster response times and increased accuracy of the services, as well as accessible IP relay interfaces
In addition to MRS, there is another kind of relay service available in Canada, called Video Relay Service. Unlike an MRS call, which is conducted via text, a VRS call is conducted via sign-language.
What we are doing
Policies, Decisions and Orders
- Review of the regulatory framework for text-based message relay services
- Accessibility of telecommunications and broadcasting services (Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430)
- Local Competition (Telecom Decision CRTC 97-8)
- British Columbia Telephone Company – Voice Relay Service Centre (Telecom Decision CRTC 85-29)
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