COPY-P-S-C accused of siphoning revenue from deaf service to aid blind

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Money required by law to pay for services for the deaf instead has been used by the Alabama Public Service Commission to pay for a phone line for the blind as well, and the dual use of the revenue has drawn a protest.

Tom Mills, a blind Cullman man, said he does not dispute the value of the phone line for the blind, but he said getting funds for it from the deaf program is in conflict with state law.P-S-C spokesman Clark Bruner said the commission has temporarily halted the funding arrangement to review it.At issue are two programs: A relay line that allows deaf people to type out responses and comments during a telephone conversation, which an operator reads to the call's recipient; and Newsline, a national program that allows blind people to call in to a phone center to hear news articles read from daily publications.The P-S-C, which collects a 15-cent monthly usage fee from traditional landline customers to run the relay line, raised more than four (m) million dollars in 2002.A P-S-C staff member said legislation is being prepared that would allow money generated by the 15-cent monthly fee to support other programs for disabled people.___Information from: Mobile Register

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