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Video Relay Helps Deaf People Make Calls

January 31, 2007

(Tampa Bays 10 News: http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=48315)

By: Jennifer Howe     

St. Petersburg, Florida – Lois Maroney places what appears to be a routine call to her husband. But, there is nothing routine about it.

Lois is deaf.

For years, she used a teletype system, or TTY, to make calls through an interpreter. But she found it incredibly frustrating.

Lois Maroney:
“Not only frustrating for me — frustrating for the people I was communicating with, because so often, people would get these calls and the call assistant would need to explain what was happening. How we were going to work this relaying back and forth, and people would say, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ and then they would hang up.”

The Sorenson Video Relay System has changed everything. Now, she sits at a monitor, makes a call, and an interpreter translates in real time.

She tears up a little when she remembers the first time she called her husband.

Lois Maroney:
“It was wonderful. He was so ecstatic. He said, ‘This feels like old times.’ … He said it feels like it’s a natural communication. And it was.”

Sorenson spokesperson Kelli Farnsworth says the relay system helps deaf people feel more connected.

Kelli Farnsworth, Sorenson Communications:
“If we call up and talk to somebody on the telephone, we can hear their voice and get their feeling and their emotion, and this way, they can do the same thing. So, if they’re angry, they can yell through the interpreter, and if they’re happy or excited or whatever, they can get that feeling across that they can’t get through typing.”
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