The Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) is a state-wide program that provides financial assistance for the purchase of specialized assistive equipment or services for Texans having a disability that interferes with their ability to access the telephone network. Individuals interested in requesting assistance must complete and submit an application to the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services /Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DARS/DHHS) where it will be reviewed to determine if the applicant meets the criteria as defined by law. Qualifying applicants are sent a voucher that may be used to purchase beneficial telecommunication equipment or services. The face value of the voucher is determined by the approved equipment, which is named on the issued voucher. Only registered vendors can redeem vouchers. However, if a non- registered vendor wants to accept the voucher, they may apply to become a vendor in the program.
The PUC is responsible for STAP vendor registration and reimbursement and also intervenes if there is a problem between a STAP voucher recipient and a vendor.
The Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) provides funding for the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP). STAP costs
represent less than five percent of the entire TUSF. For more information on the Texas Universal Service Fund, visit the following link:Texas Universal Service Fund
In 1997, the Seventy-Fifth Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 667, requiring the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) and the Texas Commission for the Deaf and Hard-Of-Hearing (TCDHH) to establish a financial assistance program that would allow individuals with certain disabilities to purchase specialized telecommunication devices. The law was created to ensure telephone network access for individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled that is functionally equivalent to that enjoyed by individuals without a hearing or speech disability. The Texas Universal Service Fund (TUSF) subsidizes the program.
In 1999, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1441, expanding the STAP to include all individuals with a disability that impairs the ability to effectively access the telephone network. This meant that the program was no longer limited to individuals having disabilities involving only hearing or speech. Also, the program added services that provide telephone network access, whereas the program was previously limited to equipment only.
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