IM this article to a friend!

September 30, 2003


From: KPVI-TV, ID - Sept 30, 2003

Deaf people now have a powerful communication tool at their disposal - a free, internet-based Video Relay System. Kassandra Pride reports on how this new technology serves the needs of the deaf community.

It used to take several minutes for Tony Park to place a call, because he is deaf.

Tony Park, ISU deaf services coordinator:
"Now, it is much more smooth - like a normal conversation in between two signers."

The Video Relay System allows Tony and other deaf people at Idaho State University to interact by phone with hearing people who do not know sign language, but without the need for typing text, as in TTY and other relay systems.
"It's been wonderful; most of the time I'd have to use a relay service."

To make a call, the person using the system connects with the service over a high-speed internet connection, and then signs instructions to a translator by way of computer-mounted video cameras. The translator phones the other party then acts as the go-between during the conversation.
"I have been promoting deaf students to place their own phone calls and to be able to have access themselves."

Tony says the system has already found other uses, as in a case where an on-site translator is not available.

The video relay system is federally funded. Idaho State University is the only institution in the state with VRS.

©Copyright 2003 Oregon Trail Broadcasting KPVI