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March 31, 2010

Deaf Action Center receives $1.4 million grant to expand video interpreting

From: Shreveport Times - Melody Brumble - Mar 31, 2010


A $1.4 million stimulus funds grant will allow the Betty and Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center of Shreveport to connect hearing-impaired people and sign language interpreters in four states.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu presented an oversized check Tuesday to center director David Hylan and board President Patty Warmack, then toured a call center that will hire interpreters for the service. The money will expand the center's four-year-old Video Remote Interpreting program from 19 to 100 stations.

Most of the stations will be in Louisiana at service providers like hospitals, courts and schools. A few will be placed in Alabama, Texas and California. He expects the computer stations to be in place in the next three months, although it will take up to two years to finish the project.

The service will offer translation in 172 languages other than English and captioning for people who don't know sign language.

The existing VRI stations have handled 93,000 calls since 2006, Hylan said.

"People can push a button and get instant interpretation," he said. "We can take an interpreter that is underused in Bogalusa and match them with a deaf person in Red River Parish, where there are no interpreters."

Landrieu said she's made a commitment to spread high-speed Internet access to rural areas and special populations like the deaf community.

"Once it was important to live by the creek or river, then when the railroad came, by the railroad, then by the highway," Landrieu said. "Right now it's important for you to be connected to the broadband, high-speed Internet highway."

Landrieu's visit was part of a two-day trip to north Louisiana that included a stop at a natural gas drilling rig in DeSoto Parish, dinner with Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover and a tour of area highways and public projects.

@ 2010 Shreveport Times