Directs the public service commission to require all telephone corporations to provide free directory information or assistance to blind persons meeting specified visual acuity standards and also to certain other physically handicapped persons who are certified as meeting certain specified criteria; requires that the public service commission establish procedures by which free access to directory information and assistance is automatically registered as exempt from all charges; makes related provisions.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public service law, in relation to mandating directory information or assistance for certain eligible persons at no cost to such persons
PURPOSE: Requires that all telephone corporations provide directory information or assistance to eligible persons at no cost to such persons. The eligibility criteria used is that which the Library of Congress has approved for federal services relating to visually impaired individuals. This legislation also requires that the Public Service Commission establish procedures by which free access to this information and assistance is automatically registered, so those who qualify as being exempt from all charges do not have these charges listed on their bill.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1: Adds a new §92-g to the Public Service Law that requires telephone corporations to provide information and assistance to eligible persons at no cost. The following persons are eligible to receive this service: (1) Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends angular distance no greater than 20 degrees; (2) Other physically handicapped persons are eligible as follows: (A) persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material; (B) persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations; (C) persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner. Also ensures that this service be automatically registered in order to keep these charges from appearing on such person's bill.
Section 2: This act shall take effect on the 120th day after it shall have become law.
JUSTIFICATION: Those who are legally blind or substantially visually impaired must use directory assistance to locate phone numbers. This legislation mandates that qualified persons receive this service at no cost. New York Telephone currently allows for legally blind persons to receive directory assistance and information free of charge. However, there have been instances where those persons entitled to securing free services have received their monthly phone bills only to discover that they have been billed for such services. This can create problems, especially for those who are currently eligible, as they must call the phone company each
month to have these charges removed from their bill. This legislation mandates that these persons be automatically registered, so the charges for directory information and assistance will not appear on each month's bill.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011-12: S.3529 - Died in Energy and Telecom 03/07/07 REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS 01/09/08 REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS 04/07/09 REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS 01/06/10 REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law except that any rules and regulations necessary for the timely implementation of this act on its effective date shall be promulgated on or before such date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 850 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommuni- cations AN ACT to amend the public service law, in relation to mandating direc- tory information or assistance for certain eligible persons at no cost to such persons THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 92-g to read as follows: S 92-G. DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE FOR ELIGIBLE PERSONS. 1. THE COMMISSION SHALL REQUIRE ALL TELEPHONE CORPORATIONS TO PROVIDE DIRECTORY INFORMA- TION OR ASSISTANCE TO ELIGIBLE PERSONS, AS PROVIDED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION, AT NO COST TO SUCH PERSONS. THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH PROCEDURES BY WHICH FREE ACCESS TO SUCH INFORMATION OR ASSIST- ANCE FOR SUCH PERSONS IS AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERED AS EXEMPT FROM ALL CHARGES. 2. THE FOLLOWING PERSONS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR SERVICE PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION: (A) BLIND PERSONS WHOSE VISUAL ACUITY, AS DETERMINED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY, IS 20/200 OR LESS IN THE BETTER EYE WITH CORRECTING LENSES, OR WHOSE WIDEST DIAMETER OF VISUAL FIELD SUBTENDS ANGULAR DISTANCE NO GREATER THAN TWENTY DEGREES. (B) OTHER PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PERSONS ARE ELIGIBLE AS FOLLOWS: (I) PERSONS WHOSE VISUAL DISABILITY, WITH CORRECTION AND REGARDLESS OF OPTICAL MEASUREMENT, IS CERTIFIED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY AS PREVENTING THE READING OF STANDARD PRINTED MATERIAL. (II) PERSONS CERTIFIED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY AS UNABLE TO READ OR UNABLE TO USE STANDARD PRINTED MATERIAL AS A RESULT OF PHYSICAL LIMITA- TIONS.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02865-01-3 S. 850 2
(III) PERSONS CERTIFIED BY COMPETENT AUTHORITY AS HAVING A READING DISABILITY RESULTING FROM ORGANIC DYSFUNCTION AND OF SUFFICIENT SEVERITY TO PREVENT THEIR READING OF PRINTED MATERIAL IN A NORMAL MANNER. (C) CERTIFYING AUTHORITY: (I) IN CASES OF BLINDNESS, VISUAL IMPAIRMENT, OR PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS, "COMPETENT AUTHORITY" IS DEFINED TO INCLUDE DOCTORS OF MEDICINE; DOCTORS OF OSTEOPATHY; OPHTHALMOLOGISTS; OPTOMETRISTS; REGISTERED NURSES; THERA- PISTS; AND PROFESSIONAL STAFF OF HOSPITALS, INSTITUTIONS, AND PUBLIC OR PRIVATE WELFARE AGENCIES (E.G., SOCIAL WORKERS, CASEWORKERS, COUNSELORS, REHABILITATION TEACHERS, AND SUPERINTENDENTS). (II) IN THE CASE OF READING DISABILITY FROM ORGANIC DYSFUNCTION, COMPETENT AUTHORITY IS DEFINED AS DOCTORS OF MEDICINE AND DOCTORS OF OSTEOPATHY WHO MAY CONSULT WITH COLLEAGUES IN ASSOCIATED DISCIPLINES. S 2. This act shall take effect on the one hundred twentieth day after it shall have become a law. Any rules and regulations necessary for the timely implementation of this act on its effective date shall be promul- gated on or before such date.