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March 13, 2003

Bay Area Deaf Celebrate First Deaf TV Star, Oldest Deaf-Run Agency

From: DCARA - 13 mar 2003

14895 E. 14th St. Suite 200 San Leandro CA 94578
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New Internet-Based Video Relay Service Allows Deaf CEO and Local Legislator
to Converse Freely at DCARA 40th Anniversary Gala

San Francisco, CA - March 13, 2003 - It wasn‚t your typical phone call.
Last Saturday night, a little before nine, when Senator Liz Figueroa
(D-Fremont, District 10 - ) answered her phone, she
was greeted by an operator voice-interpreting for Rob Roth, who was signing
American Sign Language (ASL) into a webcam at San Francisco‚s Argent Hotel.
Figueroa‚s reply was interpreted into ASL by the operator, signing into a
webcam so that Roth could see it on his own laptop, miles away.

The entire Video Relay Service exchange was projected onscreen for the
enjoyment of 340 guests at a gala dinner in honor of the 40th anniversary of
the oldest agency "of, by, and for" the deaf and hard of hearing in the
United States. The dinner, held on March 1, marked how life has changed
since 1962, when Deaf Counseling Advocacy & Referral Agency (DCARA) was
established. Edna Shipley-Conner remembers what life was like before deaf
people started demanding the right to participate in public life without
compromise: "A car was a means of communication--deaf people had to drive
to each other's homes to share information."

In 1962, influenced by the "of, by, and for" conference earlier that year,
an all-volunteer group of deaf leaders gathered in a garage in Berkeley and
established East Bay Counseling and Referral Agency for the Deaf (EBCRAD),
aiming to improve the quality of life for other deaf and hard of hearing
people. One of them, Ralph Jordan, volunteered to serve as the first
Executive Director of the agency. Since then, the agency (now known as
DCARA) has grown to encompass fourteen counties throughout Northern

"It‚s time to celebrate how far we‚ve come," said Rob Roth, Chief Executive
Officer of DCARA. "In 1962, we didn‚t have pagers, TTYs, relay services,
captioning, or ADA rights, but we did have each other. We were "of, by, and
for‚ the deaf" against all odds, and in isolation. Now, with Video Relay
Service over the Internet, technology is catching up with the deaf and hard
of hearing, so we can continue to grow our own culture, but also stay in
dialogue with the larger community. That's the best of both worlds, and one
more reason to celebrate DCARA's 40th anniversary."

Deanne Bray, the first deaf actor to star in her own television series ("Sue
Thomas: F.B. Eye", based on the true story of a deaf woman hired by the
F.B.I. for her speechreading surveillance skills), and Troy Kotsur, Bray's
husband and an acclaimed actor with Deaf West Theatre, received awards for
their work on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and
entertained the crowd with stories about famous Deaf individuals.

Headquartered in San Leandro, DCARA ( provides job training,
legal aid, computer classes, and other services to deaf, hard of hearing,
deaf-blind, and deafened individuals and their families.


Deaf Counseling Advocacy & Referral Agency (DCARA)

Biographies of Deanne Bray, Troy Kotsur, Sue Thomas

Upcoming Changes to California Relay Service contracts: California
Telephone Access Program (CTAP) ˆ Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications
Program (DDTP)
Notice of Intent to Award Contracts for California Relay Service