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Welcome to Dr. Z and You! (VLOG)

This is to welcome you to this website. It is designed to be the up to date website for any matter related to VRS. Anything you need to know about VRS should be here (we will try our best to make it happen!) We also will make it possible for you to express your thoughts so you can share it with others who use this website.

You can ask us questions or contact us anytime and if we feel your questions will benefit our readers, we will put it up on the website.

If you want to receive updates every time something new is added to this website, you can sign up for this by entering your email at the form on the right column of this page.

Enjoy!!

VCO Plus—How can VCO be made better? Absolutely, with Just One Line!

Voice carry over (VCO) is for those deaf and hard-of-hearing VRS users who can speak well enough for the hearing person on the other side to understand them. They still need an interpreter to interpret the hearing person’s voice dialogue.

The old and traditional way to do VCO required 2 lines (2-line VCO) for the deaf and hard of hearing person. One line to make the call and the other line was a regular phone line to speak back to the hearing person. This is a very cumbersome and costly method and required some time to set up the call because the video interpreter would have to work on connecting the call to the telephone.

The latest development (pioneered by ZVRS) is VCO Plus, which is one-line VCO. It does not need the second line for the phone as voice communication is handled through the Z-Phones (Z-150, Z-340 and Z-Ojo) All of these phones have microphones built into them. There is no delay in setting up the call as the the voice portion goes through the microphone to the hearing person. When an incoming call comes in, all that is needed is to press a button to answer the call and enable the microphone on the phone and conversation starts right away. No need to wait for the second phone to be set up. This is almost real time and people who have tried this rave about this.

This is an example of how technology can enable communication and make things even more functionally equivalent.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #24-Dr. Z’s New Year Resolutions for the VRS Industry for 2010

Happy New Year once again !!!

Dr. Z is here with his New Year’s Resolutions for the video relay service.

1) The video relay service as a whole shall continue to improve, have enhancements that go a long way towards making communication more accessible.

2) There shall be more cooperation between VRS providers in exchanging information so that all equipment can freely communicate with once another, without consumers getting confused as to why such a feature works with one device but not the other?

3) The FCC shall continue to issue orders that enhance functional equivalency of VRS.

4) We shall continue to see competition, but not be undercut by tactics by providers that instill fear, uncertainty and doubt in customers. We should not be afraid to make consumer-based decisions on our individual needs in communication.

5) VRS providers should lend a strong ear to consumer needs and not arbitrarily make changes and recommendations that restrict access.

6) VRS providers shall continue to enhance careers of deaf and hard of hearing employees and put them in decision-making positions. Boards of such companies should have deaf and hard of hearing people on them.

7) Fraud is not an option—VRS providers shall practice zero-tolerance when it comes to fraud.

8) Open standards such as H.323, SIP, H.263 and H.264 shall be followed to the letter by all providers. De-facto standards that affect interoperability should not be an option.

9) VRS providers should begin thinking of some sort of a industry association where there is a body insuring all companies work together to insure their service and equipment is interoperable.

10) VRS companies shall invest more in the community they serve.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Happy Holidays from Dr. Z and His Friends

Here’s wishing you the best of the holiday season.

Dr. Z wishes you all a blessed holiday and being thankful for all the nice things that come with access to communication.

Dr. Z is joining Santa in spreading holiday cheer throughout the Internet with the help of Facebook and Twitter as well as this website.

Be back with you next week…look for Dr. Z’s resolutions around New Year’s Day for the New Year.

Dr. Z (and Santa) cares about your communication access.

Thank you America! From Dr. Z and His Associate  (NEW)

Dr. Z is back in snowy Vermont…his associate is back in the Bay Area, California. We want to thank you all for attending our 10-Digit Numbering presentations.

We spoke to you all in over 50 cities coast to coast to over 2,000 of you folks. You asked wonderful questions that we passed back on to our folks at ZVRS who are working diligently to resolve your concerns about the service. Yes, we have a long way to go, but we feel rewarded having cleared up your misconceptions and confusion about the service.

We also want to thank the local Z Specialists who helped us with the town hall meetings and our logistics people in California and Florida who smoothed our way.

This effort will not stop. We plan to continue doing this in 2010 and we will let you know. Our mission is to continue working with you to enhance your video relay experience. There are a lot of exciting things coming in the pipeline and look for them!

Once again, many thanks to you all–a wonderful audience.

Dr. Z (and his associate) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #22-FCC Workshop on VRS Reform Addressed Some but Not All Issues but You Can File Your Comments!

The FCC today hosted a workshop (December 17th) on VRS reform.

Dr. Z was presenting in Tennessee while the FCC workshop got underway. He was able to go over to a Starbucks to watch the second half of the workshop and the video was not that great–it stuttered a lot so some of the content did not come through. Thanks to Kelby Brick of Purple who tweeted the proceedings live on Twitter which helped fill the gaps.

It is too soon for Dr. Z to express his thoughts until he has a chance to review the FCC post of the video of the workshop on its website (link to video) (The first 5 or so minutes are not captioned.)

Based on what Dr. Z has seen so far and reading the tweets, not everything that we had hoped that would be covered was covered. But–the FCC is allowing people to file ex parte comments on its website (link to post comments). After linking to the page, click “Submit a Filing”, then enter “03-123” for Proceeding Number and under “Type of Filing”, click “Notice of Ex Parte” and fill out the rest of the form and click “Continue” to type your comments. So if after reviewing the video, you have thoughts you want to share with the FCC–Post away!!!

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #21-FCC Workshop on VRS Reform-Proposing to Address Various VRS Issues

The FCC on December 4th announced they will host a workshop on December 17th on VRS reform.

The following is the third of 3 agenda items:

Mechanisms for combating waste, fraud and abuse, addressing service rules, and addressing technical matters such as interoperability, ten-digit numbering, and emergency call handling.

This means that the FCC is asking for everyone’s thoughts on how various aspects of the VRS service should be addressed. Dr. Z has his thoughts on each of them below…

Mechanisms for combating waste, fraud and abuse

Dr. Z would go along with the proposal submitted by CSDVRS (ZVRS) n this matter. He does not agree with some parts the proposal submitted by Sorenson as they restrict the ability of deaf and hard of hearing people using the service.

Interoperability
Simply stated, just follow the standards set by international bodies–do not set de facto standards like what Sorenson is doing with missed calls and caller-id. Any attempt at crippling interoperability gets in the way of achieving functional equivalency and when that happens, makes deaf and hard of hearing people second class citizens.

Ten-digit numbering
Thanks to the FCC, it is starting to work very well and starting to be a level playing field. But confusing messages from the dominant player in the field is causing heartburn and creating the need for all other providers to redouble their outreach efforts. The FCC and the constituents of the VRS industry will need to get their act together on the 800 numbering situation to avoid the mess that occurred in November.

Emergency access
Thanks to emphasis on this subject by the FCC, it is starting to make inroads. As Dr. Z travels, he finds that consumers are not up to speed on this issue so further outreach is still needed for another year or so.

Let’s hope for a fruitful workshop this Thursday.

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #20-FCC Workshop on VRS Reform-Proposing to Look at How VRS Is Funded

The FCC on December 4th announced they will host a workshop on December 17th on VRS reform.

The following is the second of 3 agenda items:

A fair, efficient, and transparent compensation methodology

This means that the FCC is asking for everyone’s thoughts on how the VRS service should be funded. The current rates have been frozen for 3 years and this time around, in the spring, the rates will be up for review. Dr. Z is hopeful that the FCC will review the rates with the help of NECA to insure all VRS providers are compensated fairly and appropriately. Since there is a dominant player in the market and using the old mechanism for calculating rates can be affected by the skew of a larger provider. Dr. Z is asking the FCC to be wary of this and not let the dominant provider skew the rates when they propose the rates. Since there are efficiencies of scale, Dr. Z feels a tiered rate structure is going to be appropriate once again. If the rates are too generous for the dominant provider, it only serves for them to become larger and in effect getting towards a monopolistic position. Dr. Z is hopeful that the FCC will take all of this into consideration when they perform the rate setting process for 2010 and beyond.

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #19-FCC Workshop on VRS Reform-Proposing to Change the Way VRS Is Done

The FCC on December 4th announced they will host a workshop on December 17th on VRS reform.

The following is the first of 3 agenda items:

The most efficient way to deliver VRS, particularly whether the service should remain a competitive service or be provided via competitive bidding

This means that the FCC is asking for everyone’s thoughts on how the VRS service should be provided. One extreme calls for competitive bidding with one provider doing all the VRS calls while the other extreme calls for competitive service like what we have today.

Dr. Z is of the opinion that we should have competitive service. If we were to have one provider with the lowest bidder, we will be stuck with their interpreters, with little control over the quality of the service, being at the mercy of some decisions the lowest bidder has. We in some way have a situation today with a dominant provider who is trying to call the shots and not working very well with the rest of the providers and we end up having a service that is not 100% functionally equivalent. It is Dr. Z’s hope that the FCC will continue the competitive service we have with more controls in insuring that the service is 100% functionally equivalent–things like missed calls and caller ID which are still not perfectly compatible today to be made compatible.

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #18-FCC Workshop on VRS Reform

The FCC on December 4th announced they will host a workshop on December 17th on VRS reform.

This is an attempt by the FCC to review all aspects of VRS as a service. It can result in some changes but the bottom line is that we won’t lose VRS service. At the workshop, we need to be sure our needs and views are heard. The workshop will cover three areas (as copied verbatim from the FCC announcement):

1) The most efficient way to deliver VRS, particularly whether the service should remain a competitive service or be provided via competitive bidding;

2) A fair, efficient, and transparent compensation methodology; and,

3) Mechanisms for combating waste, fraudand abuse, addressing service rules, and addressing technical matters such as interoperability, ten-digit numbering, and emergency call handling.

Dr. Z will comment on each of the 3 areas in editorials in the forthcoming days to come (prior to the workshop.) These issues are important and it is time for the FCC to look into this. It is Dr. Z’s hope that the end result will be a better VRS service for us all.

It will take place from 2-5 pm and will be open captioned on the web using this address http://www.fcc.gov/realaudio. You may want to test it and download your copy of Real Player to be prepared.

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Editorial #17-Flash NEWS-FCC Issues Temporary Waiver for 866 Numbers

Today the FCC issued a temporary 4-month waiver for toll free numbers (including 866 numbers). This means any relay provider who has removed 866 numbers from their data base has to put them back. This includes Sorenson which is a major provider and caused gallons of Pepto Bismol to be consumed by the deaf and hard of hearing community, the VRS industry and the FCC in dealing with the 866 issue. Dr. Z tips his hat off to the FCC for listening to our concerns. While this is temporary, this gives us time to discuss our thoughts, exchange our views and come up with a resolution for toll-free numbers that works for us all. (Link to FCC order)

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

P.S. The makers of Pepto Bismol can now restock the shelves of the stores selling them.

Editorial #16-The 800/866 Fiasco-The Drumbeat Rolls On (NEW)

The 866 fiasco is affecting everyone and everyone is going bonkers to the point that most of the national deaf organizations and video relay companies, except Sorenson have made their thoughts known to the FCC. You can go to the FCC website to read ex parte notices by those who met with the FCC. (Link to Postings)

Like Dr. Z said before, one needs to modify the configuration on their VP-200 by going through three screens. Our colleague, a well known blogger, Karen Putz, has written a nice post on her website on this matter. (Link to Karen’s writeup)

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #15-The 800/866 Fiasco-More Information (NEW)

Interoperability and Functional Equivalency

Interoperability means that any piece of equipment must be able to access other equipment.  Functional equivalence means that any service element must be equal to what hearing people have. This is a FCC mandate. (Link to FCC declaratory ruling 06-57). Paragraph 34 of that ruling defines interoperability and functional equivalency in some detail and I have quoted that below.

The 866 situation we have today is causing a lot of headache and Dr. Z feels bad about it because our deaf and hard of hearing colleagues are very confused.  Sorenson took down their 866 numbers and other deaf and hard of hearing people who do not have Sorenson units cannot call another deaf or hard of hearing people with Sorenson units while deaf and hard of hearing people with Sorenson units can still call other deaf and hard of hearing people with Sorenson units using 866 numbers. Hearing people can call Sorenson units with 866 numbers.  This is second-class treatment by Sorenson again–they are treating hearing people better than deaf people again.

Also, to further the confusion, Sorenson is using 866 numbers as the default basis for generating Caller-ID’s for all outgoing calls. If a non-Sorenson unit receives a call from a Sorenson unit, this non-Sorenson unit gets the 866 number instead of a local number and when it is used to call back, it goes instead to an interpreter because the 866 number is not registered on the national data base. This effectively blocks the non-Sorenson user from calling back to the Sorenson unit. If a local number was passed using a standard and recognizable format instead, there would not be a problem.

Text of paragraph 34 of FCC Declaratory ruling 06-57:

34.   In sum, consistent with functional equivalency, all VRS consumers must be able to place a VRS call through any of the VRS providers’ service, and all VRS providers must be able to receive calls from, and make calls to, any VRS consumer.  Therefore, a provider may not block calls so that VRS equipment cannot be used with other providers’ service.  In addition, a provider may not take other steps that restrict a consumer’s unfettered access to other providers’ service.  This includes the practice of providing degraded service quality to consumers using VRS equipment or service with another provider’s service.  Finally, new providers seeking to offer service have the burden of ensuring that their service is interoperable with existing providers’ service.

Sorenson, by doing some things with 866 numbers, does not meet this definition of interoperability, in my view.  Dr. Z is pleading with Sorenson and the FCC to reread this in light of the current situation. Comprende?

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #14-The 800/866 Fiasco (NEW)

For hearing people:

– Sprint cell phones can call ATT cell phones using 800/866 numbers.
– ATT cell phones can call Verizon cell phones using 800/866 numbers.
– Verizon cell phones can call Sprint cell phones using 800/866 numbers.

For deaf and hard of hearing people:

– Z-Phones (Z-150, Z-340, Z-Ojo) can call Purple devices using 800/866 numbers.
– Sorenson VP-200’s can call Z-Phones using 800/866 numbers
– Hearing people can call Z-Phones and Purple phones using 800/866 numbers
– Z-Phones, Purple units, Snap units cannot call Sorenson VP-200’s using 800/866 numbers (that is because Sorenson does not handle 800/866 calls from other providers–only from Sorenson units)
– Hearing people can call Sorenson VP-200’s using 800/866 numbers

(Sorenson is treating hearing people better than deaf people–its units are accepting 800/866 calls from all hearing people and not accepting 800/866 calls from deaf people who do not have VP-200’s.)

The FCC issued a clarification that 800/866 numbers shall not be part of the national data base and this is contributing to a functionally unequivalent system for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Is this functional equivalence? According to the Federal legal code 47 C.F.R. § 64.601, paragraph 15 which states that any TRS or VRS service elements must be equivalent (or equal) to what the hearing people have.

Is anyone listening?  There is a lot of confusion out there (this is based on a first-hand observation of Dr. Z and his colleague, who visited 21 cities in recent weeks to talk about numbering.)  Do we deserve this?

CSDVRS has filed a petition to allow 800/866 numbers to be used.  TDI has met with the FCC supporting that petition. The NAD has issued a press release on this matter.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #13-Dr. Z's Thoughts on Today's News (November 19, 2009) (NEW)

Today’s charges regarding VRS fraud is a wake up call to everyone involved in the industry–consumers, interpreters and the VRS companies. History tells us any industry in rapid growth mode usually gets slowed down with a variety of issues–the situation today is an example of this issue. The charges today are serious and if true, should be dealt with appropriately.

Some people have commented as to whether it will hurt the VRS industry. As far as I am concerned–this will not reduce our access to VRS nor communication access in general. The Chief of Staff of the FCC, Edward Lazarus made this clear in his press release when he said ” I would also emphasize that nothing we do today, or in this investigation, will prevent the processing of legitimate VRS calls. Moving forward, our goal will be simple: to ensure that the VRS program is one that the American people can be proud of, and that the deaf community can rely on.” This is relieving to know.

We deaf and hard of hearing consumers value the service as second to none–it has provided us with functionally equivalent access to communication that we didn’t have prior to 2000. We should not let today’s news reduce that access. We must work together to weed out weaknesses in the system that funds VRS and move on to greater things—even better communication access.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Ask Dr. Z-How to File a Complaint with the FCC? How Do You Read Other Filings with the FCC? (NEW)

As we all know, the FCC is responsible for insuring communication access for all of us. They depend on feedback from the community to guide them in making their decisions. In Dr. Z’s travels across the country, some people during the question and answer sessions have stated some complaints about some VRS companies providing the service. Dr. Z has told them that complaining via a blog or to their friends does not make things happen. If you want to make things happen, the way to do it is to complain directly to the FCC. It is easy to do that and Dr. Z has written about this before and he is writing this again now. You need to click the link below and enter the number “03-123” in the Proceeding Number and fill out the rest of the form and click “Continue”.

Link to File a Complaint with the FCC

Complaints, petitions, filings and orders are public information. They appear on the FCC’s website. You can click the following link and enter “03-123” as the Proceeding Number and click “Search for Comments” (You do not have to enter anything else). You will get a list of different things filed with the FCC about VRS, including complaints.

Link to See all Filings, Including Complaints with the FCC

The more information the FCC gets, the more your communication expectations will be met.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #12-Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt? Sorenson Is At It Again (NEW)

Sorenson on November 12, 2009 has removed the numbers of their customer’s 866 numbers from their data base as they want to comply with the FCC’s assertion on this issue. This means that incoming calls from other units cannot access Sorenson units with a 866 number, only with a local number. The FCC issued this clarification regarding 800/866 numbers without a proper process. But, but, when a Z150 or another provider receives a call from a Sorenson VP-200, the unit still passes a 866 number, causing more confusion among the deaf and hard of hearing consumers. Are they speaking with a forked tongue?–telling the FCC they are a good soldier removing 866 numbers, and behind their backs, passing 866 numbers to other VP devices. This is causing confusion and grief among deaf and hard of hearing consumers who are using VP devices as they cannot call back to a VP-200 using 866 numbers. There is a way to disable this to change the 866 to local numbers by navigating a whole set of menus to access the page to make this change. And to effect the change is not very clear on the menus.

This method is causing some fear, which in turn creates uncertainty and finally doubt. This is from the market leader who again is still creating confusion in the community. The FCC is expending money to educate people about numbering while the market leader is causing confusion. Doesn’t this make sense?

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

Editorial #11-Today is November 12th–What is so important about November 12th? (NEW)

November 12th is the deadline the FCC has set for everyone to register their videophones or IP-Relay devices.

If you have not registered, you may not be able to make relay calls or be able to receive calls on your videophone from other people trying to reach you.

If you have not registered, you should contact the provider of your videophone to sign up and give them your name and address.

If you have not registered, your 911 calls will take longer to process because you will have to give the video interpreter your location.

If you have registered, there is nothing else you need to do. You can use your videophone happily ever after.

How do you know you have registered? If your provider gave you a new phone number with your device, it usually means you have registered. If your device asks to check your name and address after you power up, it usually means you have registered.

Dr. Z cares about your communication access.

VRS Numbering 101-Lesson #8-"Must I make all VRS calls to my default or primary provider?" (NEW)

Numbering 101-Lesson #8

Must I make all VRS calls to my default or primary provider??

This is another question which has come up as a result of Dr. Z’s travels across the country. People wonder about the term “default (or primary) provider”.

1. You do not have to make all VRS calls to your default provider!

2. You are free to make VRS calls to any provider you prefer, such as ZVRS from your VP-200, Z-150, P3 or any other device you have.

3. Will my provider take away my device if I make VRS calls to a provider other than the one supplied by my provider? The anwer is a resounding “NO”. Some provider’s representatives may lead you to believe this. You are a consumer, and you should feel free to call your favorite VRS company.

4. Will my provider disable (or take away) my contact list if I call another provider? The answer, again is “NO”.

5. Why is there a “default provider”? Each videophone unit is supplied by a provider and that provider becomes the default provider for that device. The default provider has your profile which can be used in the event of a 911 call. If you have a device supplied by another company, that other company is the default provider for that device and also has your profile information.

Dr. Z is here to help you. We want you to communicate happily ever after!

Ask Dr. Z-"Why doesn't my mobile videophone work in a hotel or motel?" (NEW)

As part of Dr. Z’s travels across the country, this question has come up in almost every city he goes to.

The answer is simple–most hotels and motels have firewalls as part of their router configuration which makes it difficult to process most videophone calls. There may be a way around it–ZVRS’ Z Connect may work in cases where there is no browser access required; but for the most part, it is not recommended.

In the event of an emergency in your hotel and motel room, you should not use your videophone to dial 911–use the hotel’s regular phone in the room–dial “911” and leave the phone off the hook–it should be suffiecient to get assistance from the first responder (police, fire, ambulance.) After dialing 911, and LEAVING your phone off the hook, go to the front desk to be sure they are aware of the emergency.

No one likes to talk about 911 situations–but one day, it may happen to you, so it is always good to be proactive.

Editorial #10-Stop! Stop! Treating Us as Second Class Citizens!!!(NEW)

Here we go again–how can a market leader dictate how we deaf and hard of hearing people live our own lives? Here’s one example…Sorenson Communications filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC on October 2nd, 2009. (Link to Sorenson filing)

For the most part, this petition makes sense, it is a very lengthy document and Sorenson has been beating its drums as to how it has been a good citizen in doing such things. But they need to be realistic–they cannot tell us how to live our lives. In the fine print of the aforementioned document, they say that deaf and hard of hearing people should not use VRS to listen in on “podcast” or recorded calls. How dare they? Where’s the functional equivalency in this? Hearing people can do that from their phones without a problem. If the FCC takes up Sorenson on this suggestion, deaf and hard of hearing people will be cut off from being able to listen on audio announcements recorded by some entity out there. What is the alternative? Back to the Dark Ages by asking a hearing person or interpreter to interpret the audio for us?

I urge Sorenson to be more proactive by listening to the deaf and hard of hearing people and prior to filing such comments, to check with its Consumer Advisory Board or whatever name they give to that fine group of people. I doubt it if that Board had passed judgment in this specific instance. I am continuing to read this thick petition to see if there are other examples of trying to cut us off from the world of communications.

A market leader has a responsibility to be sensitive to the constituency it serves, not to make assumptions that they think because “we are a leader, we can dictate how the market serves its consumers.” It is not supposed to be the case.

VRS Numbering 101-Lesson #6-"Does 911 service work in a power failure with VRS?" (NEW)

Numbering 101-Lesson #6

Does 911 service work in a power failure with VRS?

Dr. Z just returned from a trip to the Midwest where he spoke to audiences in 3 cities on numbering. The reaction has been very positive. One topic of several that came up was whether VRS service would work in the event of a power failure and how it impacts 911 service.

1-When there is a power failure, there is no power in the house–that means your VRS device, your TV, your cable or DSL modem and your router will not work.

2-If they all do not work, you will not have VRS service.

3-If you do not have VRS service, you will not have 911 service.

4-What should you do for 911 service in the event of a power failure? If you have a TTY with phone service, be sure the TTY has fresh batteries that will work when power goes down. Usually the phone lines continue to work when there is a power failure; BUT, if you have phone service provided by the cable company, this phone will not work as it depends on the cable modem which needs power to operate. You must have phone service from the local phone company in order for your traditional phone to work in case of a power failure. In rare cases, especially when wires are downed, both the phone service and the power goes down.

5-What is an alternative to call 911 if my power goes down and my phone doesn’t work? You can use your pager and use an IP relay service to call 911. Sometimes in cases where there is a bad storm, pagers sometimes won’t work if the tower goes down. This is a very rare occurrence.

Dr. Z is speaking from experience. He lives in a rural area in Vermont where there are power outages several times a year. He has a TTY with fresh batteries on hand and regular phone service (not cable phone service); also a pager.

Dr. Z is here to help you. We want you to communicate happily ever after!

Editorial #9-Still Tapping My Fingers…(NEW)

A couple months ago, I brought to your attention the tactics of “you know whom” still doing the following…

1) Not passing the caller id to non-VP-200 devices
2) Using a non standard method for missed calls
3) Dragging their feet on updating the national data base with VP-200 local numbers (they did update mine after quite some time, but we are still hearing that others are still waiting for theirs to be updated)
4) Asking the FCC to restrict homes to 1 IP address per household
5) Confusing the public with numbering information

All this from what is a market leader? And this is treating deaf and hard of hearing people as second-class citizens. They have been “deaf” to all of the above–not listening to the real needs and concerns of deaf and hard of hearing consumers, instead barging ahead with their own agenda.

History tells us market leaders like this have a life of its own. Come on, treat us well and make all calls functionally equivalent–respect the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing people in making video calls.

Dr. Z and His New Associate to Tour the Country to Talk about VRS and Numbering Issues

In view of the ongoing confusion and misinformation on numbering issues facing deaf and hard of hearing consumers–Dr. Z went to his laboratory and did some brainstorming and he came up with a new prescription.  The prescription has the objective of making the deaf and hard of hearing population in American get well from the confusion and misinformation on numbering issues by going on a national tour to talk to America about numbering.  Since America ain’t small, Dr. Z has brought in a new associate, Dr. Z, Junior  (Russ Stein) into his expanded practice.  Dr. Z will cover the eastern part of the country and his associate will cover the western part of the country. Russ comes with an extensive background in the VRS industry and will be presenting the same material as Dr. Z. We look forward to communicating with you in person. Visit this website for dates and cities where you can meet us! If you want us to come visit you in your community, send an email to drzvrs@zvrs.com and we will try our best to come to see you!

Why Do We Talk About Numbering? (NEW)

People ask us–why do you keep talking about numbering. Do we have all the issues resolved? The answer is no because we checked and checked–there is still a lot of confusion in America. Many of you who are reading this would agree. So, we decided to go national–go to every corner of America and clear the air. It is like defrosting your car window. Right now, the numbering issue is frosting your window. We are applying de-icer to the window so you can see (and then understand numbering) and make calls without hesitation or puzzlement. There are sources out there who are not exactly giving you the right information. We are here to make the many wrongs into rights.

The following is a list of the top things in your mind—

What is right, what is wrong?
Why are there too many numbers out there?
Which number should I use?
What is a default provider?
How does 911 work?

When you are able to understand all this–you will be happy ever after making video calls, with the help of Dr. Z and his team! We are here to work with you.

New Series on Numbering by Dr. Z

Starting next week and continuing for several months, there will be a series of articles and vlogs on numbering issues (Numbering 101).  As we all know, a lot of consumers and people who use videophones continue to be confused with numbering issues.  Dr. Z and his associates want to set the record straight and make sure everyone is on the same page. In the end, we all will have a pleasant videophone experience with no obstacles and no hiccups when it comes to numbering issues. It requires an industry effort, not the effort of one person or one company to make all this happen. Dr. Z is taking on this challenge and is asking the industry to do likewise. The objective is for the deaf and hard of hearing person to have a functionally equivalent communication experience. Let’s do it! If you do not want to miss the series, you are welcome to subscribe to the website by filling out the form at the upper right hand site of the Dr. Z website (www.drzvrs.com.)

(Previous Lessons)…

VRS Numbering 101-Review Questions (Lessons 1-5) (NEW)

Numbering 101-Review Questions

If you feel comfortable answering the questions below, you are in good shape understanding the 10-digit numbering issue for VRS. We will continue to come up with more lessons next week.

1-Did you register your number with your VRS provider? (Link to Lesson 1)

2-What happens after you register your number? (Link to Lesson 2)

3-What is the national database? (Link to Lesson 3)

4-How is 911 and numbering related? (Link to Lesson 4)

5-What is a 10-digit number? (Link to Lesson 5)

Dr. Z is here to help you. We want you to communicate happily ever after!

Emergencies and Video Relay

What should one do in a emergency that requires a 911 call? Dial 911!

But how do you do it on a videophone device? Just dial 911 using the keypad as if you are dialing a phone. You will be connected to a VRS interpreter who will verify the address to be sure you are calling from the right location (in case you did not change your address on the profile on file with the VRS provider). The VRS interpreter will call the closest public safety access point (PSAP) and process the call interpreting your dialogue. In the case you are almost incapacitated and unable to communicate, the VRS interpreter will go ahead and call the closest PSAP to send help to your house.

Be mindful that in the case of a power failure, your VRS device, your cable or DSL modem and your router will not work. This is when you need to use a battery powered TTY and a regular phone line. So words to the wise–keep your regular phone line and old TTY available for cases like this. We all care!

Guest Article-VRS Numbering Update – Consumer Advice and Guidance

Numbering Update – Consumer Advice and Guidance
Karen Peltz-Strauss, Attorney


Are you a VRS user? Then you must register with the VRS provider of your choice by November 12, 2009 to continue making VRS calls after that date. When you register, you will get a 10-digit number. This number will make it easier for you to receive calls from hearing people, because they will only need to dial that number to reach you. When they dial that number, they will automatically be connected to a video interpreter from the company that you have selected as your default (preferred) provider. The call will then be connected to you, without the need for the hearing person to do anything else. After you register, you and other deaf callers will also be able to call each other directly using your 10-digit numbers. It will not matter whether you use the same provider or not – all calls will go through using your 10-digit numbers.

But if you do not register by November 12, you will not be able to make nonemergency calls after that time. (You will be able to still make 9-1-1 calls after November 12, even if you have not registered.)

Why do you need to register? There are two main reasons that the FCC has created the registration requirement. First, when you register, you will be giving your preferred VRS provider your name and address, which will be put into a database. If you need to make a call to 9-1-1, your name and location information will automatically be provided to the VRS interpreter and 9-1-1 operator, which will help you get emergency assistance faster.

Second, the registration requirement was set up to help end fraud by individuals using Internet-based text relay. Unfortunately, some individuals from foreign countries have been using IP relay to make calls involving fake credit cards that have harmed American businesses. In addition, some people in the United States have used IP relay to make crank, or phony phone calls. By having people register, it is hoped that the number of these calls will decline.

The original deadline for registration and ten-digit numbering was June 30, 2009. Why was it extended?

The FCC extended the registration deadline because it was concerned that many consumers were still unaware of the need to register. In order to make sure that VRS and IP relay users could continue making calls, the deadline was extended several months, until November 12. In addition, more time was needed to work out some technical issues associated with the transition to 10-digit numbering.

Here are some more questions that a consumer might ask:

If I already have a 10-digit number that was given to me by a VRS company a few years ago, do I need to do anything?

Yes. If you were given a number a few years ago, more than likely it was a “proxy” or “alias” number. You may have been able to choose your own number, or use the number that you originally had for your TTY. But that 10-digit number was only an assigned number that allowed you to call within a single provider’s network of users. You could not use that number, for example, to call a friend using a different VRS provider than the one you were using, or to make a call from one type of video equipment to another. Also these numbers have not been registered into the national IP relay and VRS database. So even if you have one of these numbers, you still need to call your preferred provider, register, and get a real 10-digit number that is entered into the database.

If IP addresses keep changing, will my number keep changing?

No. Your IP address is the number given to your computer so that it can interact with the Internet. Although most IP addresses change on a regular basis, your 10-digit number will stay the same.

When I make a call, how will the VRS provider that I use know that I am registered?

After you have been assigned a 10-digit number, your IP address will be linked with that number. When you make a call, the VRS interpreter handling the call will automatically be able to see that you are registered because the number will come up on her screen. This will happen if you use newer video equipment, such as any of the Z products, the Ojo, the VP 200 or the MVP. See below for what you need to do if you use older video equipment.

Will I be able to continue making VRS calls with my D-link (Eye to Eye) videophone after November 12?

Yes, you will be able to continue making VRS calls with your D-Link after the registration deadline, so long as you register and get a 10-digit number. But unfortunately, D-links cannot process 10-digit numbers the same way that newer video equipment can. When you make a call with your D-Link, the video interpreter who handles your call will not automatically be able to see that you are registered, so you will have to give that interpreter your 10-digit number at the start of the call.

What will happen if I use a D-Link for a 9-1-1 call?

If you are using one of these devices in an emergency, you will need to give your name and physical location to the interpreter or 9-1-1 center. They will not automatically get this information.

Can I use videophones that I purchase in a retail store to make VRS calls?

Yes, you can use video devices that you buy in a store, but these devices, like the D-Link, will not be able to automatically send your personal information to the interpreter handling the call or to a 9-1-1 center in the event of an emergency. You will need to provide that information at the start of your call.