For members of the deaf community conversant in American Sign Language (ASL), Video Relay sets (VRS) and Video far away Interpreting (VRI) both provide valuable tools for communicating with the hearing world.

VRS is a form of Telecommunications Relay sets (TRS) which:

1. allows those with hearing disabilities access to the telephone system

2. allows the deaf to use American Sign Language instead of a text telephone (TTY) to call a hearing individual over normal telephone lines

3. permits the use of a high speed Internet connection plus a web cam or video conferencing equipment to access a Communications Assistant (CA) in a call center

4. relies on the CA to relay information to and from a hearing person on their telephone

5. also permits a hearing person to begin a call to the deaf individual

The FCC covers the costs of all VRS calls by the Interstate TRS Fund. Calls are free to both parties and are “relayed” by the CA, who is a skilled, qualified ASL interpreter.

The FCC mandates that VRS is only to be used in a situation where the deaf individual would have made a typical voice call by the telephone system were it not for the disability. VRS may not be used as a replace a live interpreter.

VRI serves a different purpose. With VRI, both the deaf and hearing persons are located in the same place, such as a hospital, school, college classroom, courtroom, police stop, prison, or any other location where a live sign language interpreter is unavailable.

Fees for VRI are paid for by the party requesting them. Depending on the situation, a qualified interpreter may be mandatory as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), especially in medical and legal situations.

VRI is not limited by geography. You can take advantage of VRI from any place in the world with a webcam and high speed Internet connection. VRI is now the first choice for hospitals where the need for an ASL interpreter cannot always be scheduled in improvement.

In-person sign language interpreters usually:

* must be booked 24 hours in improvement to avoid higher charges

* require a two-hour minimum fee, no matter how short the actual interpreting needs

* charge a 2 hour minimum fee if the job is not canceled 24 hours in improvement

* charge if the client is a no-show, such as a deaf student skipping a class

VRI can:

1. replace live interpreters when not obtainable

2. cut the cost to private medical offices and schools who are required to provide sign language interpreters but who are not reimbursed by the TRS Fund

3. make sign language obtainable in obtain environments such as prisions, interrogation rooms, and hazardous medical environments

4. obtainable on need at no additional charge

5. no additional charges for last second assignments or cancellations

6. get rid of “in-person” interpreter fees for travel and parking

FCC concerns over illegal use of VRS instead of VRI continue. While VRS providers have systems in place to detect improper calls, no system is perfect.

leave your comment