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Editorial #149--ALL 6 VRS Providers Ask FCC to Freeze Rates and Look Into Other Things

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A major accomplishment!

All 6 VRS providers got together and have submitted a filing to the FCC to freeze rates and look into other things. Dr. Z is pleased to see everyone working together–it is for the benefit of deaf and hard of hearing folks who use the service.

In addition to freezing rates, the providers are asking the FCC to look at the following:

-speed of answer (to come to a reasonable compromise on how they calculate and penalize speed of answer)
-skills based routing (to ask the FCC to allow specialized interpreters for things like legal and medical situations)
-use of deaf interpreters (to allow the use of deaf interpreters in situations where a native speaking ASL signer is in a call)

To read the filing, click this link.

By the way, if you want something for your desktop, why not get Z5 MAX? Click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Editorial #148--Certified Interpreters? ZVRS Has 100% Certified Interpreters! What About the Others?

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When we are in court, we want our interpreters to be certified! When we have parent meetings at schools, we want our interpreters to be certified! When we see our doctor, we want to be sure our interpreter is certified! But some interpreters in the video relay industry are not certified. They are “qualified”, which is different from being certified. To be a certified interpreter, you have to take rigorous training and testing by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) or in some states where they require certified interpreters. All of ZVRS interpreters are certified–that is 100%! And ZVRS is proud of this!

The next time you make a relay call with any provider, ask the video interpreter if they are certified. If they say they are “qualified”, then it is different from being certified.

Why do we require certified interpreters in courts, hospitals and other places? We want to be sure we get the high quality service we deserve. Video relay is no different!

Thanks for listening to Dr. Z’s thoughts on this.

By the way, if you want something for your desktop, why not get Z5 MAX? Click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Editorial #147: All VRS Providers Agree on New Interoperability Standards Using SIP! Waiting for FCC to Agree to Changes!

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Over the past year or so the following VRS providers (ASL/Global, CAAG, Convo, Purple, Sorenson, CSDVRS (ZVRS)) have been meeting on a regular basis to draw up interoperability standards using SIP. SIP is a newer method for video communication to talk to each other. The old method was called H.323 and H.323 is in the process of being phased out and everyone is moving to SIP.

The providers have put together a working proposal and have met with the FCC on January 6th. The FCC has to agree to make some changes to its rules. When this happens, we can begin to see an environment where all videophones can talk to each other. There is one other hurdle to jump over. The SIP standard is handled by a “mother” group which also has to agree to what the VRS providers have put together. They also have to be sure that those still using H.323 will not be left out.

In 2015, we will begin to see some testing, and it is everyone’s hope that everything will be rolled out in 2016.

It is a commendable effort for everyone to come together voluntarily, and Dr. Z looks forward to the day when there will be no fuzzy pictures, black screens and unexpected disconnections.

You can see the filing at this link.

By the way, for more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Holiday Shopping? What to Get? Tech Stuff!

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Shopping for the holidays over time has changed. The stuff we are looking for has changed dramatically. A lot of the stuff we get now goes with us–it is mobile, like our old telephone. It used to be wired to your home and you couldn’t pull it out. Now, it fits in your pocket.

Dr. Z subscribes to a great website called recode.net. It was put together by two former Wall Street Journal (WSJ) tech journalists. They no longer are part of WSJ. Their site is for geeks like Dr. Z, but some topics are very readable and user-friendly. Some of their reviews are very clear and useful.

They have put together a web page for us to browse for holiday shopping. It’s a useful and a great read. Enjoy!

Here’s the link! (some of the videos are not captioned, sorry!)(Dr. Z does not get any commission for referring you to those shopping sites.)

By the way, if you want something for your desktop, why not get Z5 MAX? Click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Editorial #146: Hearing People Have it Good with Voice Plans, Not Us Deaf and Hard of Hearing Folks with Data Plans!

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Most of us are beginning to realize that 4G LTE is better than wifi for video calls from a smartphone away from your home. The problem is 4G LTE is not always free, but let Dr. Z outline his case.  The information below does not apply to wifi, it applies to calls using 4G LTE.

  • All the major carriers offer unlimited talk time as part of their monthly plans.  Voice does not use any “data.”
  • For video calls, it takes up to 500mb of data for every hour or 1GB of data for a 2 hour conversation. Video calls use “data” not like voice.
  • ATT and Verizon have “capped” data plans while give you a cap of 3GB, or 4GB and so forth at different pricing tiers.
  • When you go over the “capped” data plans in a month, you will be asked to pay more for that month.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile have unlimited data plans.
  • If hearing people can have unlimited chat, deaf people who have ATT and Verizon do not.  That is not functionally equivalent, nor is it fair?
  • Is this something for the FCC to look into?  It makes it look like ATT and Verizon are penalizing us for being deaf or hard of hearing.
  • You can switch from ATT or Verizon to Sprint or T-Mobile, but you need to be mindful of coverage. ATT and Verizon have better coverage in most part of the United States than Sprint or T-Mobile.

By the way, for more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Thoughts for Thanksgiving from Dr. Z...

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For some it’s about tradition & delicious food. For others it’s about family & friends. The best part is the connections we make and the memories we build along the way. Here’s a special shout-out to our amazing video interpreters and our staff who work 25/8/366 to ensure the best in video communication and to our video communication users for choosing us to be a part of your lives. Happy Thanksgiving from Dr. Z and us all at ZVRS!

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Thanksgiving is Upon Us-Recommended iOS Apps!

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Dr. Z is not jumping the gun for Thanksgiving. It is an important holiday where everyone gets together. He is now helping you all prepare for this holiday the high-tech way–using apps! He found a cool website (link) which suggests some apps (not all of them are free.)

The apps are as follows:

Clear+ to make lists
Peapod to go food shopping online (not in all areas)
Butterball Cookbook Plus – Recipes for Thanksgiving & Every Day Occasions (yummy!)
Gluten-Free Recipes by iCookbook™
Thanksgiving Menu Maker from Fine Cooking
KitchenPad™ Timer (so your turkey won’t get burned)
Snapguide (how to guides)
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® 2013
NFL Mobile
BFAds.net Black Friday (to get a head start on holiday shopping)

Enjoy! Dr. Z does not get a commission nor is responsible for anything that occurs as a result of his recommending such apps (that includes football upsets.)

By the way, for more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Editorial #145: Look--If AT&T and Verizon Can Be Interoperable, Why Can't The VRS Industry Do It?

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Recently, ATT and Verizon announced plans to make their new LTE networks interoperable (link). They are major giants in the industry and see a need for this. The VRS industry, while getting better, is still not 100% interoperable. We continue to see things like poor video connections, black screens, and address books that cannot be ported.

Dr. Z is challenging the VRS industry to move on—we all have to deal with a dominant provider who is causing all this. While they all including the dominant provider have been meeting periodically on SIP interoperability–there are areas within SIP interoperability that do not necessarily cover things like address book portability and video quality. The dominant provider uses proprietary (non-standard) codecs that affect video quality. The FCC is trying to let the VRS industry work among themselves on this–while waiting for the new things such as the Video Technology Access Reference Platform developed by the FCC which will not come into reality for at least a year or two. Until then, we will continue not to be functionally equivalent. This is 2014, not the 19th century. And we continue to be second class citizens because 100% interoperability is still not here yet. Is anyone listening?

When interoperability issues are resolved, we will finally achieve functional equivalence.

By the way, for more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

Why Don't Deaf People Use Twitter? Dr. Z Does and It's Great!

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Dr. Z has been using Twitter for some time–it’s a great resource. But we all know deaf people don’t use it–they use Facebook, iMessage, VRS and other tools to communicate and read.

Dr. Z thinks Twitter is like a visual radio. The problem with Twitter is that it is a bit confusing to use and learn at the beginning.

ZVRS uses Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the public.

Dr. Z will give you tips on Twitter for the next couple months.

As a beginning, you don’t need to set up a Twitter account to use Twitter. To follow CNN on Twitter, simply type twitter.com/CNN. For ESPN SportsCenter, type twitter.com/sportscenter.

In the next couple weeks or so, you can set up a Twitter account to communicate with airlines, department stores. They respond to Twitter better than email.

ZVRS has hardware and software to help you communicate.

For Z5 for your smartphone or desktop, click this Z5 Software/Apps

For more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development

NEW Z5 MAX Sizzles! Flying Off the Shelves!!

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After months of research and deciding what you, the consumer, wanted the best in video communication, ZVRS put together the Z5 Max–it’s a videophone with a browser!

Before we knew it, the Z5 MAX has turned into a very HOT item, popular with our video communication users. With Firefly, which flashes for incoming calls, it is a complete unit! It also is a touchscreen, so you can tap on the screen to make calls!

Why did we include an Internet browser? Simple, how often in the middle of a call do you go to your computer to get information you need for the call. With Z5 Max, no running around to your computer–the browser is right there. Also, it has a hard-wired connection so your video communication won’t be interrupted by the spikes and valleys of wifi.

Dr. Z has one unit on his desk and he LOVES it!

For more information on the NEW Z5 MAX, click this link.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z (Philip W. Bravin) is associated with CSDVRS, currently its Vice-President of Business Development