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February 3, 2004

Students at Helen Keller National Center Use Sorenson Video Relay Service to Instantaneously Communicate with the Hearing World

From: Business Wire (press release) - Feb 3, 2004


Sorenson VP-100 Videophone Connected to a 35" TV Enables Deaf-Blind Students with Usable Vision to Place Video Relay Calls

The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC), a training center for individuals ranging in age from 16 to senior citizens who are deaf-blind, announced they are utilizing Sorenson Video Relay Service(TM) (VRS) from Sorenson Media(R). Sorenson VRS offers deaf-blind individuals with usable vision another option when conversing with hearing friends, family, and business associates. Sorenson VRS gives these users the opportunity to become more independent by providing them with the ability to hold private conservations over a videophone; something many of these individuals never experienced prior to Sorenson VRS.

"Many HKNC students use Sorenson VRS through the use of a Sorenson VP-100(TM) videophone connected to a 35-inch television," said James R. Feldmann, senior instructor and technology support specialist at HKNC. "The Sorenson VP-100 videophone enables users to enlarge the video screen to full view on a 35-inch TV. Other solutions, which traditionally have been for PC users, only produce small postage-size video images that are extremely challenging for deaf-blind individuals with usable vision to decipher. By having such a large image on the screen, deaf-blind students with usable vision are able to see the interpreter, read American Sign Language (ASL) and sign a reply."

Sorenson VRS facilitates natural communication between deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals 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(R) SL video relay software or Microsoft(R) NetMeeting(R), both deaf and hard-of-hearing users are able to place calls through an ASL interpreter over a broadband Internet connection.

Zachary Bradley, a 33-year-old student at HKNC, said he used Sorenson VRS for the first time while at HKNC. Bradley commented, "I am amazed at Sorenson VRS. Because of the high quality of the video, the interpreter easily reads what I'm signing while simultaneously translating and speaking to the (hearing) person that I called, and vice versa. It makes it easy to communicate with anyone quickly."

Feldmann added, "Because ASL is their primary method of communication, they prefer to communicate in ASL instead of writing and typing in the spoken English language. Just as hearing people prefer spoken language the students are thrilled to use Sorenson VRS to communicate in their own native language. In addition, they are able to communicate much more efficiently by signing and they don't have to use magnified screens for reading print on a small computer screen."

William "Bill" Gerbasi, a 54-year-old student at HKNC, is learning independent living skills while his wife and daughter are back home in Ohio. Gerbasi experiences difficulty when using a text-based telephone (TTY) and computer messaging because of his low vision and limited computer skills. "Sometimes TTY would be impossible for me to read with such restricted vision," said Gerbasi. "Also, with Sorenson VRS I am able to communicate with my wife and daughter. It's so wonderful to experience that while I'm away at HKNC."

Paul Bogan, a 22-year-old student at HKNC preparing to go to college mentioned, "It's great to see an interpreter and to visually experience the emotions, gestures and ideas of a call. Sorenson VRS makes a difference for the better."

Deaf-blind consumers with no or little vision may also use the Sorenson VRS. "In these cases, we have on-site tactual interpreting support for students to make calls on the Sorenson VRS," said Feldmann. "This gives deaf-blind individuals further confidence and dignity since they are able to express themselves."

"Sorenson Media is delighted to have found a communication solution for many of the students at HKNC," said James Lee Sorenson, CEO at Sorenson Media. "We are excited to be part of the technology that is opening new doors for individuals who are deaf-blind and have usable vision."

About The Helen Keller National Center

The mission of the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) is to enable each person who is deaf-blind to live and work in his or her community of choice. It provides comprehensive vocational rehabilitation training at its headquarters in New York and assistance with job and residential placements when training is completed. Services in the field include 10 regional offices, over 40 affiliated agencies, a national training team and an older adult program. HKNC is a partner in the National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind and with DB-LINK, a clearinghouse for information on deaf-blindness. HKNC also maintains a national registry of individuals who are deaf-blind.

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.

(C) 2004 Sorenson Media. All products and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.


Sorenson Media, Salt Lake City
David Parkinson, 801-287-9400

© Business Wire 2004