Since the beginning of Relay Services in 1964 there has not been a well-defined standard for quality assurance. To this day, the HoH (Hard of Hearing) and the deaf community have little to no voice in the quality of services that are provided. The FCC has established a few requirements with regards to quality and these requirements only address a few minimum performance metrics that are outdated.
Industry stakeholders agree, that a strict set of standards for all service types should be established and a testing methodology clearly defined. State administrators that are responsible for choosing the relay provider need to have access to clear and concise performance benchmarking data of industry providers to enable them to make intelligent and informed purchase decisions for their constituents. Establishing quality standards and a methodology for compliance testing will ensure that providers are tested equally and fairly, and consumers can use these relay services with confidence.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides a framework in which all concerned parties may participate. Establishing the standards in the ANSI framework will ensure that all stakeholders are represented fairly and have unencumbered access to standards that drive industry quality.
ANSI is the most appropriate framework to create the standards for quality, testing methodology and governing body. ANSI is the point of entry from the United States to create the ISO (International Organization of Standards) standard.
ANSI has served in its capacity as administrator and coordinator of the United States private sector voluntary standardization system for more than 90 years. Founded in 1918 by five engineering societies and three government agencies, the Institute remains a private, nonprofit membership organization supported by a diverse constituency of private and public sector organizations.
Throughout its history, ANSI has maintained as its primary goal the enhancement of global competitiveness of U.S. business and the American quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and promoting their integrity.
Accreditation and Approval
ANSI coordinates, facilitates, and promotes the development of voluntary consensus standards that are relied upon by industry, government agencies, and consumers across the United States and around the world.
ANSI fosters the U.S. standardization system by accrediting the procedures of standard-setting organizations and subsequently approving individual documents as American National Standards (ANS). Nearly 220 ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers are now engaged in the creation and maintenance of voluntary consensus standards that are being used in virtually every industry sector. These standards developers — and the experts that populate them — work cooperatively to enhance the U.S. quality of life and improve the competitiveness of businesses operating in the global marketplace.
A standard that has been approved as an ANS is identified as such on the document’s cover or in its introductory text. Many ANS also include “ANSI” in their unique identifying designations.
Hallmarks of the ANSI Process
An American National Standard (ANS) is a document that has been sponsored by an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developer, achieved consensus, met ANSI’s Essential Requirements, and been approved by the Institute.
The hallmarks of this process ensure that American National Standards are developed in a manner that is equitable, accessible, and responsive:
Participation is open to all interested stakeholders.
Balance of interests shall be sought.
Consensus must be reached by representatives from materially affected and interested parties in an environment that is free from dominance by any party.
Standards are required to undergo public reviews during which any member of the public may comment.
Comments from the consensus body and public review period must be responded to in writing
All unresolved objections, attempts at resolution, and substantive changes to text are provided to the ANS consensus body for review prior to final vote.
An appeals process through the standards developer to address procedural concerns is required.
Public and National Benefit
From the very first American National Standard (ANS) on pipe threads to work that is underway today to meet emerging needs and priorities, ANSI-approved standards provide tremendous benefit to society and the global economy. This work spans a broad spectrum of industries: from nanotechnology and energy efficiency to telecommunications and the rapidly expanding service sector, the reach and influence of the standardization community is pervasive.
Participation by a standards developer in the ANS process signifies a commitment to the creation of high-quality, market-driven standards in an open environment characterized by due process and ANSI’s neutral third party oversight. ANS set benchmarks for quality and performance that help to protect the public interest and foster commerce by influencing the design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, and safe use of products and processes worldwide.
Success is measured by recognition, usage, and acceptance. By reflecting generally accepted technology, ANS dramatically increase market efficiency by providing a basis upon which buyers and sellers agree to certain product and service parameters.
For example, in the information technology sector, standards are relied upon to assure the interoperability of devices and systems. Without ANS, unnecessary inefficiencies and costs could result.
Similarly, U.S. consumer product safety standards are widely used as models for other national, regional, and international efforts. Products and services that comply with ANS can be expected to gain greater market recognition, acceptance, and use, thereby benefitting both consumers and implementers of the standards.
ANSI-accredited standards developers conduct their work in a manner that is open to public scrutiny and that provides every stakeholder with an opportunity to be heard, without dominance by any party.
Adherence to the ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards results in a level playing field for all stakeholders, contributing to the development of standards that benefit those who participate in the process, the general public, and the nation.
ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers offer processes that meet the Institute’s requirements for:
Lack of dominance
Accreditation by ANSI as a standards developer represents a public statement of the value placed on an open and equitable consensus development process.
Standards developers that choose to participate in this arena are dedicated to advancing voluntary consensus standardization interests within the U.S. and globally.
Due process is key to ensuring that American National Standards are developed in an environment that is fair, accessible, and responsive to the needs of affected stakeholders.
All ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers and all American National Standards are subject to ANSI’s neutral third-party oversight via the ANSI Audit Program. Other checks and balances in place include appeals provisions, periodic review of procedures, and regular attestations by developers of compliance with ANSI’s procedural requirements.
Mark of Quality
Quality is a key facet of value for any potential customer purchasing goods or using services. Although there are different definitions of quality, by any name it has been documented as a determining factor for buyers and users of American National Standards.
If “conformance to requirements” is the benchmark for quality, ANSI’s Essential Requirements provide confidence in a due process that includes openness, balance, public notification, coordination, consideration of views, consensus, and appeals.
For those who see quality as “fitness for intended use,” thousands of ANS have been developed and approved with testaments to their credibility, consistency, and acceptance.
Where “meeting or exceeding customer expectations” is the definition of quality, the ANS designation has been characterized by such terms as “integrity,” “level playing field,” “broad support,” and “responsive to market needs.”
Compliance with the ANS process requires an open and due process-based system that may help standards developers avoid antitrust and tort liability problems. ANSI’s neutral oversight through the Audit Program and Board of Standards Review establishes credibility for the ANS designation while supporting a system where all parties — including those with technical comments on content — have the right to participate in standards development.
The Standards Development Organization Advancement Act of 2004 extends certain protections, including a limitation on antitrust liability, to organizations whose procedures incorporate openness, balance, due process, appeals, and consensus.
A Tool for Government
One of the best examples of confidence in the ANS designation is the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113.
This law requires all federal government agencies to use, wherever feasible, standards developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies in lieu of developing government-unique standards or regulations. The NTTAA also requires government agencies to participate in standards development processes, given that such involvement is in keeping with an agency’s mission and budget priorities.
OMB Circular A-119, which provides guidance to federal agencies on the implementation of the NTTAA, recognizes that the attributes of voluntary consensus standards bodies include openness, balance, consensus, due process, and appeals — all the hallmarks of the ANS process. According to the circular, voluntary consensus standards help the government by:
Increasing operational efficiency,
Reducing regulatory compliance and procurement costs.
Avoiding duplication of effort caused by having separate.
Private sector and government-unique solutions.
Enabling the government to take advantage of private sector technology and expertise in establishing standards that serve national needs, and
Contributing to economic prosperity and growth.
Since the NTTAA became law, there has been a sizable increase in government reliance on voluntary consensus standards — from the 9-11 Commission’s endorsement of an ANS for disaster and emergency management to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which mandates compliance with ANS for all-terrain vehicles and toy safety.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and the American quality of life by promoting, facilitating, and safeguarding the integrity of the voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system. Comprised of organizations, government agencies, companies, academic and international bodies, and individuals, ANSI represents the interests of more than 125,000 companies and 3.5 million professionals worldwide.
The Institute is the official U.S. representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and, via the U.S. National Committee, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and is a U.S. representative to the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). ANSI currently has offices in New York City and Washington, DC.
NOTE: Some steps may take place concurrently www.ansi.org/essentialrequirements
Standards developer’s procedures are accredited by ANSI Executive Standards Council (ExSC) – upon accreditation, which includes a public review of procedures, developer may be referred to as an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developer (www.ansi.org/asd)
Accreditation may be appealed to the ANSI ExSC and then to the ANSI Appeals Board – appeal right exists thereafter as well
Consensus body established; discretely defined interest categories assigned or selected
Preliminary development stage of document as an ANS in accordance with developer’s procedures (Filing of ANSI
PINS form online [psawebforms.ansi.org] for draft new, national adoptions and revised ANS; publication of PINS in ANSI Standards Action; deliberation among stakeholders if claim of conflict or duplication is lodged)
Draft document is announced in ANSI Standards Action (www.ansi.org/standardsaction) for ANSI public review (Filing of ANSI BSR-8 form online [psawebforms.ansi.org] by developer; subsequent substantive changes require additional public review; developer must make document available for review)
Draft document balloted to consensus body (If vote to approve a document as an ANS is taken at a meeting, members who are absent shall have the opportunity to vote before or after the meeting; balloting and public review can be concurrent)
Attempt to resolve and respond to comments resulting from public review and consensus body ballot (Written responses required; comments not related to the proposal at hand must be processed as a new proposal)
Recirculation of unresolved public review comments and unresolved votes from consensus body members along with attempts at resolution and substantive changes to the full consensus body (in order to afford all consensus body members the opportunity to respond, reaffirm, or change their vote – typically via ballot)
Written notification of right to appeal at the standards developer level sent to unresolved1 objectors (public review and consensus body members)
Appeals process concluded or appeals filing period expires at the standards developer level
Documentation submitted to ANSI via BSR-9 form, which includes final tally by interest category of consensus body vote and other supporting documentation demonstrating evidence of consensus and due process; approval of document by ANSI Board of Standards Review (BSR) (ANSI Audited Designator reviews evidence of consensus, approves ANS, and notifies ANSI)
Notification by ANSI of the right to appeal procedural, not technical, issues to the ANSI BSR (In the case of an Audited Designator, there is no notification by ANSI and any related appeals are filed with the ANSI ExSC)
Notification by ANSI of right to appeal an ANS BSR or ANSI ExSC appeals decision to the ANSI Appeals Board.