Technology has provided us so many ways to communicate with others.
Where as the first telephone seemed cutting edge, we now experience
the immense freedom that things such as cell phones, personal
computers and more bring us, and at the mere touch of our
fingertips. All these devices developed over the years have made it
easier and more efficient for people in different locations to
communicate. Programs such as Skype, for example, allow people
around the world to see each other face to face while only needing
Internet access and a video camera. And while technology as a whole
has made incredible leaps and bounds, devices utilized specifically
by the Deaf Community have not been neglected either. Generally
categorized under video relay services, this encompasses a way in
which Deaf and hard of hearing individuals can communicate at a
video relay service is a telecommunication service that allows Deaf
individuals to communicate over a videophone using a sign language
interpreter (Wikipedia, 2013). Relatively young in terms of
technology it has been well developed particularly in Sweden since
1997 while in the United States has been significantly developed
since the early 2000s with VRS services being regulated by the U.S.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since 2002 (Wikipedia,
2013). A video relay service is utilized particularly between Deaf
or hard of hearing individuals and hearing individuals (The Z,
2013). This service allows hearing and Deaf individuals to talk in
real time because of a third party interpreter that translates
between the two. Because of the particular nature of this form of
communication a video relay service requires a particular type of
phone that allows for the interpreter and the Deaf or hard of
hearing individual to see one another. One of the first times this
type of video technology was introduced to the Deaf Community was at
the 1964 New York World Fair (Wikipedia, 2013).
Bosson was one of the first individuals to envision such a form of
technology available to the Deaf Community and has been a major
component in making VRS what it is today (Wikipedia, 2013). Since
his work at providing services like these to the Deaf Community,
many companies throughout the United States and the world offer
video relay services. Companies including The Z, a VRS company has
been in production since 1999 and provides not only communication
services to the Deaf Community, but also the specific products
needed for this type of communication like video phones and cameras
(The Z, 2013). Many other companies like The Z are funded completely
by the FCC (The Z, 2013; Wikipedia, 2013).
are many benefits to using this type of technology and as it
continues to develop and become more readily available throughout
the U.S. and world, the easier it will be to offer. The benefits to
using this type of communication means that Deaf or hard of hearing
individuals do not have to only communicate via typed text (FCC,
2011). Because the interpreter, called a communications
assistant according to the FCC, and VRS users are able to
fluently use ASL to communicate, it provides for a much smoother and
quicker conversation. While text messaging is useful, other benefits
to VRS include being able to visibly show expressions and emotion
thereby being able to better communicate which is something text
messages are not able to fully do (FCC, 2011).
benefits to providing video relay services are countless, not only
does it provide for an easy and efficient way for people within the
Deaf or hard of hearing Community to communicate with hearing
individuals, it also allows them to communicate in their native
language, American Sign Language. As technology grows and video
relay services reach throughout the world, people are one step
closer to being able to communicate with one another beyond the
boundary of culture, society, and language.
FCC (2011, May 25). "Video Relay Services". Retrieved March 12,
2013 from: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/video-relay-services.
The Z (2013). Retrieved March 12, 2013 from: http://www.zvrs.com/about-us.
Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. (2004, July 22). FL: Wikimedia
Foundation, Inc. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_relay_service.
You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars