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By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager
In November, the ACS/Adaptive General Access Computer Lab located in ISB 110 received a video relay service (VRS) phone from Sorenson Media of Salt Lake City, Utah. As described by the company's website, "Sorenson Video Relay Service (VRS) is a free service for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community that enables anyone to conduct video relay calls with family, friends, or business associates through a certified ASL interpreter via a broadband Internet connection and a video relay solution (or VRS call option). " This service is already in use throughout North Texas and its implementation in the Lewisville Independent School District was recently featured in the Dallas Morning News.
The Sorenson media website further describes how the system works and
provides a diagram: "Video relay calls are placed over a high speed or
broadband Internet connection (i.e. DSL, cable, or T1 line) through an
easy-to-use Sorenson VP-100 videophone appliance connected to a TV, or
through a personal computer equipped with a Web camera and Sorenson
EnVision SL (or Microsoft NetMeeting) software. The deaf user sees an
ASL interpreter on their TV and signs to the interpreter, who then
contacts the hearing user via a standard phone line and relays the
conversation between the two parties. Hearing customers can also place
video relay calls to any deaf or hard-of-hearing individual by simply
dialing the toll free number with a standard telephone."
All ACS/Adaptive lab consultants have been thoroughly trained on the Sorenson VRS and are ready to help patrons use this new free service. Additionally, the lab technology team is preparing a step-by-step tutorial on using the system which will be featured in the January issue of Benchmarks Online. In the meantime, any and all interested UNT community members can come in for one-on-one instruction from the lab consultants. The carpentry shop is busy building a privacy screen for the VRS station so that patrons can have privacy and confidentiality when using the phone. For additional information about this great new hardware contact Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner for details.