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November 6, 2004

Sorenson Media donates $5M to school for deaf

From: Salt Lake Tribune, UT - Nov 6, 2004

By Bob Mims
The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah's Sorenson Media and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation have donated $5 million toward construction of a new teaching and research center at Gallaudet University.

I. King Jordan, president of the famed Washington, D.C.-area liberal arts school for the hearing impaired, said the donation is the second-largest in Gallaudet history. In 1992, W.K. Kellogg donated $10 million.

The new James Lee Sorenson Language and Communication Center will be devoted to the study of deaf people's language, culture, history and community.

"Students can acquire the knowledge and skills they need to succeed . . . and to strengthen and preserve their identities as deaf people," Jordan said.

Added James LeVoy Sorenson, medical device inventor and chairman of the Sorenson Legacy Foundation: "This is something we are proud to put our name and resources behind."

His son, James Lee Sorenson, characterized the gift as recognition of the expanding "partnership between Sorenson Media and Gallaudet University.

"We will continue to work together to aggressively develop and utilize technology that enhances communication and learning," he added.

The announcement was the latest development in a relationship between Gallaudet and Sorenson dating to April 2003, when the two partnered to establish a video telephone relay service.

The Sorenson Video Relay Service combined Sorenson Media technology and equipment with certified American Sign Language interpreters to allow hearing-impaired users to place video relay calls to hearing contacts.

Last month, after completion of trials at Gallaudet, Sorenson Media announced its Video Relay Service (VRS) was going full time.

As the only always-on VRS service currently available, Sorenson expects rapid growth in demand among the nation's 28 million hearing-impaired.

Sorenson announced its VRS service would be a premium sponsor of's 12 expositions in 2005.

For Gallaudet, the Sorenson gift was a major step for a $20 million fund-raising campaign for the center that began in January. An actual construction starting date is in limbo.

© Copyright 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune.