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Editorial #23-Information and Thoughts on International VRS Calls

In Dr. Z’s travels across the country the past 2 months, he met a lot of appreciative consumers who valued the ability to talk to their friends and families using the Spanish VRS service. Some French-speaking consumers asked Dr. Z whether French would be added to the service–Dr. Z based on current rules, said this was not possible. This is usually for calls to Canada and Haiti which has a French-speaking population.

The rules are clear–VRS calls must either begin or end in the United States. For example, someone from Canada cannot call a VRS service in the United States to call someone else in Canada. But if the person receiving the call is in the United States, it is OK. The same is true for someone in the United States calling someone else in Canada through the relay service.

It is understandable to offer Spanish VRS calls in the United States–but what about other languages? How can we handle this? Is this functionally equivalent? How can we staff interpreters who can understand LSQ (French/Quebec Sign Language)? This is the tip of an iceberg but we need to empathize with our deaf and hard of hearing colleagues who want to speak to their non-English speaking relatives in other countries. Maybe there would be technology down the road making this possible?

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

1 comment to Editorial #23-Information and Thoughts on International VRS Calls

  • Rae Johnson

    The VRS provides a valuable support system for international deaf students attending college in the US. Their ties to their families back home help them deal with college work, two new languages–English and ASL, INS regulations, and tax laws. Sometimes the only help they can get is from someone back home. And most of them plan to remain in the US because of the opportunities not available to them back home. What the VRS does for them is to keep them going. It would be wonderful if there was a relay operator that knows all the languages of the world!

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