What is Video Relay Service?
Video Relay Service (VRS) is a video-telecommunications service design for deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired individuals. They use it to communicate with hearing people in real time through a sign language interpreter via video telephones.
How Does it Work?
The deaf or hard-of-hearing person using VRS must have a video phone or video conferencing equipment and a high-speed Internet connection. The deaf individual can make or receive telephone calls through an American Sign Language interpreter who communicates with the individual on the other end. VRS works through a 24-hour service, paid for by the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) fund, a U.S. government-supported program that compensates TRS providers (telephone companies) for the costs of supplying Communications Assistants (CA) who help facilitate the calls. The hearing-impaired person is responsible for choosing a provider. There is no cost to the VRS user.
What Are the Benefits of VRS?
The advantages of using VRS for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person are many. It provides them direct communication between themselves and hearing family and friends. It also gives them an avenue to communicate with doctor’s offices, schools, business contacts and even Customer Service Representatives from any type of business or company. The receiving party does not need to know American Sign Language to be able to communicate with the deaf or hard-of-hearing person.
What the Receiving Party Hears
Often, the hearing individual who receives the call will think it’s a telemarketer. However, the CA should say, “Hello. This is the relay service… .” Don’t hang up as this is VRS being used.
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At IRIS, we train Call Centers on how to handle Video Relay Calls appropriately, treating deaf and hard-of-hearing customers with respect.