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Editorial #1-“Let’s “Do the Right Thing”

Let’s “Do the Right Thing
An Op-Ed Editorial from Dr. Z

With what has been occurring in the VRS industry of late—it is time for us to “do the right thing.”

There are many ways to do it right—and that includes stepping forward to tell the world one has a list of things we will stand by when we do our work. That is putting forward a code of ethics. ZVRS has stepped forward, put one on its website for all to see, an internal code of ethics which they have observed for some time. They did so voluntarily, and in addition, asked other VRS providers to do the same or adopt ZVRS’s code of ethics. This is the link to the code of ethics for ZVRS on their website.

The code of ethics lists things that need to be done right, such as:

– ensuring all relay calls be “functionally equivalent”, meaning handling calls the same way a hearing person makes a call

– ensuring the privacy of all calls, meaning the content and information of any calls are not shared with anyone else, except the caller and the person receiving the call

– billing the FCC (NECA) for each minute of interpreted phone call, not for the time the interpreter sets up and concludes the call, but between the time the other person picks up the phone and hangs up

– not making calls to generate more minutes–this is called manufactured minutes. Many examples are listed under “impermissible activities” under the code of ethics. ZVRS will only process calls made by people who want to make calls, not urging people to make unnecessary calls so that more minutes can be generated.

– in marketing the VRS service, ZVRS will make people aware of the benefits of using our service and explore the unique benefits and products of ZVRS, not to make more calls than necessary.

– implementing a whistle-blower policy so that any employee who sees things not being done right to feel free to come forward and bring this to the attention of management without having to worry about being punished or the like.

Also, all current ZVRS employees have signed on to the code of ethics since January, 2009 and all new employees will be required to do so.

All this is commendable and as a person who has been with the industry since its inception, I commend ZVRS for stepping forward with this. I hope other VRS providers will step forward doing the same thing—to show the world they will do their work ethically. Some providers have yet to come forward with their code of ethics.

There are more ways to do things right with VRS.

What about all VRS providers setting up more dialogue so that all phones can communicate with one another following internationally-set standards? Sorenson’s refusal to provide caller ID is an example according to recent FCC filings.

If people do not want to work together the way ZVRS wants to do so, what will it mean for the future of the VRS industry?

The answer is simple—step up and “do the right thing.” This is my challenge to all VRS providers.


Click to comment.

Note: Dr. Z (Philip Bravin) is a consultant with ZVRS. The above is an op-ed which reflects the independent opinion of Philip Bravin.

3 comments to Editorial #1-“Let’s “Do the Right Thing”

  • jk

    thank you for taking the lead

  • Deaf Anonymous

    This begs the question–why address this issue after the fact or internally back in January 2009? This isn’t better now than later. Do you have an explanation to this? I hope the Feds will inspect records and communications of relay providers dating back to the day TTY relay was first used.

  • ZVRS has always insisted that the organization follow and never break FCC rules. In late 2007, ZVRS became aware of the practices of another VRS company that ZVRS felt were unethical. As a result, ZVRS wanted to insure complete clarity for all their employees on what is and is not ethical. ZVRS then consolidated the multiple things they had written in various documents and communicated verbally into a concise document and asked all employees to sign it. The Code of Ethics was completed and distributed in January, 2009.

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