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November 11, 2003

CSUN Selects Sorenson Video Relay Service

From: Sorenson Media - Nov 11, 2003

Sorenson Video Relay Service (VRS) Allows California State University, Northridge, Deaf Studies Department to Instantaneously Converse with Hearing World

Unmatched Video Clarity of Sorenson VP-100 Videophone Removes Communication Barriers for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Faculty Members and Students

NORTHRIDGE, California, and SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, (November 11, 2003) – The Deaf Studies Department at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) announced today the implementation of Sorenson Video Relay Serviceâ„¢ (VRS), an innovative video communication service developed by Sorenson Media® that connects millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals with their hearing friends, family, and business associates via a videophone or video relay software. Offering the latest video technologies along with certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, Sorenson VRS allows the Deaf Studies Department’s student, staff, and faculty to make video relay calls to anyone in the hearing world.

Sorenson VRS enables deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to effectively and naturally communicate with the hearing world. Using the Sorenson VP-100™ videophone appliance connected to a TV, or a personal computer equipped with a Web camera and Sorenson EnVision® SL video relay software or Microsoft® NetMeeting®, both deaf and hard-of-hearing users are able to place video relay calls to family, friends, or business associates through an ASL interpreter and a broadband Internet connection.

“The minute Sorenson VRS was installed in my office, it changed my life considerably,” said Dr. Genie Gertz, a deaf professor at CSUN in the Deaf Studies department. “The speed of communication exchange is unbelievable and the idea of obtaining a sign language interpreter within a minute is doubly unbelievable. The ability to reach anyone, particularly hearing people without sign language skills, is immeasurable.”

Gertz also uses the Sorenson VP-100 videophone to converse with her hearing Russian parents who immigrated to New York City. Sorenson VRS has allowed Gertz and her parents the ability to have a conversation over the phone; something they haven’t been able to do. “Prior to Sorenson VRS, I often faxed them. I tried California Relay Service (CRS) but it was a nightmare with my parent’s limited comfort of English because much of the conversation got ‘lost in translation’," said Gertz. “Sorensen VRS and the Sorenson VP-100 videophone with its clear picture are heaven-sent for my videophone interaction with them. Sorenson VRS enables me to directly see an interpreter as well as anticipate and better understand what my parents are trying to say.”

Sorenson VRS has been able to remove several communication barriers in academic, professional, and personal environments by bringing clarity and understanding while conversing. “It is my hope that every building on CSUN campus will provide access to a Sorenson VP-100 videophone for deaf staff, faculty, and students,” said Dr. Lawrence Fleischer, chair of the CSUN Deaf Studies department. “If the Sorenson VP-100 became commonplace, this could mean that the issue of accessibility to the hearing world for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals would be deeply buried.”

With over 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students, CSUN boasts the largest nationwide enrollment of such a group at a mainstream institution. One of the most popular areas of study for these students is a comprehensive undergraduate program in the area of Deaf Studies. CSUN is one of only three institutions in the nation that offers Deaf Studies, a program designed to provide appropriate exposure and preparation for persons interested in professional careers as sign language interpreters, sign language instructors, counselors, government specialists, audiologists, speech pathologists, program administrators, community service personnel, and many other deaf-related vocations. The program includes both deaf and hearing students.

“At CSUN, we have an interpreter preparation program,” explained Gertz. “I feel strongly that student interpreters should be exposed to Sorenson VRS as part of the training because it is going to be a major part of the future. Thus, we plan to re-write the curriculum to ensure that Sorenson VRS is part of the training. We also hope that the ASL/Interpreter Lab will be enhanced through the help of Sorensen VRS.”

The deaf and hard-of-hearing students at CSUN fully recognize the communication bridge that Sorenson VRS is to their hearing friends, family, and associates. “Sorenson VRS has allowed me to be a better student and a relaxed mother,” said Allison Fanara, a Deaf Studies major at CSUN. “By using Sorenson VRS, I have for the first time been able to clearly share ideas and work on projects with my hearing classmates. I don’t have to worry about misunderstandings or delayed e-mails. Additionally, I can call my mom to check on how my two kids are doing during the day. I don’t think hearing people understand what a luxury it is to pick up the phone and have a conversation because they have always had this capability.”

“It is a compliment that CSUN – one of the nation’s largest institutions that offers program in Deaf Studies – selected Sorenson VRS,” said James Lee Sorenson, CEO at Sorenson Media. We look forward to making Sorenson VRS accessible to all deaf individuals – faculty, staff, and students - campus-wide.”

About Sorenson VRS

As a service to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, Sorenson Media developed the Sorenson Video Relay Service (VRS), an exclusive integrated solution of videophones and video relay software that offers the highest-quality video relay service in the nation. The deaf and hard-of-hearing are able to conveniently place video relay calls to anyone through either the Sorenson VP-100 videophone appliance connected to a TV, or a personal computer equipped with a Web camera and Sorenson EnVision SL video relay software or Microsoft NetMeeting. Hearing users who want to place a video relay call through a standard telephone line to a deaf or hard-of-hearing user may access Sorenson VRS toll free by calling 866 FAST-VRS [866 327-8877] and giving their contact information (i.e. name, videophone number, or IP address) to the video relay operator. Sorenson VRS takes care of the rest by routing the call with the user's preferences through the Sorenson VRS Call Center to a certified interpreting agent. For more details on Sorenson VRS, please visit

About the Deaf Studies Department at California State University, Northridge

The primary focus of the Deaf Studies program at California State University, Northridge is to provide knowledge and information about the deaf experience to deaf and hearing undergraduate students. Deaf Studies is a viable field of study comparable to that of any other cultural group. It draws its subject matter from a dynamic body of knowledge based upon the language and culture of deaf people. Deaf Studies expands this body of knowledge through personal accounts from the lives of deaf people throughout history and through scholarship and research in the fields of linguistics, history, social sciences, arts and humanities, education, and others. Deaf Studies encompasses information about deaf people in the United States and around the world."

About Sorenson Media

Sorenson Media ( and is the recognized technology leader in video services, video compression, and video communication to improve the quality of communication over the Internet. The company's products and services include the industry's highest-quality video relay service, award winning video compression solutions, and the market-leading broadband Internet videophone technology.