What is Video Relay Service (VRS)?
Video Relay Service is a form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) that enables persons with hearing disabilities who use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text. VRS is protected by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act and overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
How does Video Relay Service work?
Through a videophone, webcam, or mobile application, a deaf person establishes a visual connection with a sign language interpreter. The interpreter then places a call to the hearing person that the deaf person wishes to speak with and facilitates a conversation, interpreting what the hearing person says to the deaf person and voicing what the deaf person signs in reply. A version of VRS called Voice Carry Over (VCO) is the same except that a deaf person can choose to speak instead of sign.
How is Video Relay Service funded?
Video relay service service is funded by a small charge on American consumer phone bills and is available at no extra cost to Americans with hearing loss.
Who uses Video Relay Service?
Americans who are Deaf or have hearing loss and use ASL rely on video relay service. In fact, because the conversation between the VRS user and the CA flows much more quickly than with a text-based TRS call, VRS has become an enormously popular form of TRS.
Why is the Clear2Connect Coalition focusing on video relay service?
In recent years, VRS technology has not kept pace with the advancements we’ve seen in telecommunications for hearing Americans and the quality of service has diminished significantly. For instance, wait time between entering a phone number and being connected to an interpreter has increased, while the quality of interpreting has decreased. This isn’t just an inconvenience for VRS users; it can be potentially dangerous. VRS—and the quality of its service—can be critical, even lifesaving, when it comes to communication for health care and emergency situations.
Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Americans who experience a hearing and/or speech disability have a right to access telecommunications services that are “functionally equivalent” to those used by consumers without these types of disabilities. To meet this requirement, the FCC must evaluate the current state of VRS and implement VRS reform that provides for continual modernization to ensure quality service.