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June 22, 2004

Deaf Merrill Lynch Executive Increases Client Base by Using Sorenson VP-100 Videophone

From: Business Wire (press release) - San Francisco,CA,USA - Jun 22, 2004

COLUMBIA, Md. & SALT LAKE CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 22, 2004--When Stephen Hlibok arrives at Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) in the morning, he turns on his Sorenson VP-100(TM) videophone and begins making video relay calls to his hearing clientele and point-to-point calls to his deaf clients. Before it took Hlibok -- who is deaf -- as much as an hour to place a text relay call, now it takes only a few minutes to conduct a video relay call. For Hlibok, a Merrill Lynch vice president and senior financial advisor for the Global Private Client Group, using the videophone and Sorenson Video Relay Service(TM) (VRS) has allowed him to communicate more efficiently with his national retail clients.

Sorenson VRS enables deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals like Hlibok to communicate naturally and quickly with the hearing world. Using a high-speed Internet connection and the Sorenson VP-100 videophone appliance connected to a TV, deaf and hard-of-hearing people can place free video relay calls to hearing colleagues, clients and family in their native language, American Sign Language (ASL), via a relay interpreter. An alternative way to connect to Sorenson VRS is with a personal computer, Web camera, and Sorenson EnVision(R) SL video relay software or Microsoft(R) NetMeeting(R).

"Sorenson VRS has broken down traditional communication barriers between hearing and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals," said Hlibok. "Clients can easily call me through the video relay service. They no longer need to schedule an on-site interpreter to come into the office to talk with me or communicate through text-based options only. The videophone and video relay service has simplified my life and theirs. Because contacting me is much easier now, Sorenson VRS reduced the amount I travel because I no longer need to set up face-to-face meetings and this in turn has assisted me in obtaining additional business because I am able to spend more time in the office."

Hlibok has had extensive experience with the communication difficulties faced by deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the business world. "When I first started working for Merrill Lynch in 1987, I used a text-based telephone (TTY). It took an average of 30-40 minutes per TTY call to finalize a single decision with one business contact. Basically, my hearing coworkers made 50 calls per hour to my two or three," said Hlibok. "Then in 1995, I began to use e-mail, which made communication easier. However, clients still liked to make their decisions by asking questions back and forth in conversation with me," added Hlibok. "Hearing people were especially impatient with text, so I didn't have the best access to them."

"With the release of Sorenson VRS and the Sorenson VP-100 videophone in 2003, I was finally able to converse instantaneously with hearing clients through the videophone and video relay service. I was impressed by the clear picture and the ease of the conversation," said Hlibok. "With Sorenson VRS, I am now able to assist my clients and coworkers in making an immediate decision rather than waste time replying back and forth with text communication. Sorenson VRS provides an improved method of communication which is invaluable when exchanging financial advice and ideas," commented Hlibok.

About Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch is one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies, with offices in 35 countries and private client assets of approximately $1.5 trillion. As an investment bank, it is a leading global underwriter of debt and equity securities and strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals worldwide. Through Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, the company is one of the world's largest managers of financial assets, with assets under management of $513 billion. For more information on Merrill Lynch, please visit

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.

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© Business Wire 2004