The NAD has been working hard to advance access to Video Relay Service (VRS).
To use VRS, a deaf or hard of hearing individual must have video conferencing equipment or a videophones, and a broadband (high speed) Internet connection. VRS enables a deaf or hard of hearing person to make and receive telephone calls through a communications assistant (CA) who is a qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. For many deaf and hard of hearing individuals, VRS is closer to “functionally equivalent” telephone services than any other form of relay service. For ASL users, VRS conversations flow so much more smoothly, naturally, and faster than communicating by typing. For many people, including deaf senior citizens and children, no other form of relay service is comparable.
Video conferencing equipment and videophones have additional benefits. They can be used for direct communication between deaf and hard of hearing people and with their hearing family and friends who know ASL. They can also be used by deaf and hard of hearing people who do not know ASL, but who benefit from access to visual communication cues, including speech reading.
The NAD continues to advocate for improving VRS, to make VRS a mandated service, ensuring funds for VRS research and development, and ensuring qualified interpreters for VRS and the community.