Category Archives: Relay Service

Sorenson Communications Supports Term Extension of FCC Chairman Martin

[April 25, 2006] 

Sorenson Communications Supports Term Extension of FCC Chairman Martin

SALT LAKE CITY –(Business Wire)– April 25, 2006 — Sorenson Communications, the nation's leading provider of video relay services (VRS) and equipment for the deaf community, applauds President Bush's intent to nominate Kevin Martin as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission for an additional five-year term, which would continue on until June 30, 2011.

Ron Burdett, vice president of community relations for Sorenson Communications, commented on the upcoming nomination:

"Re-nominating Kevin Martin for an additional term as chairman of the FCC is a highly commendable action by President Bush. As chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin has drastically and positively altered the landscape of relay communications for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Further, he has also been a strong advocate for guaranteeing public safety, particularly in ensuring the availability of E911 Emergency Services for all Americans. We have welcomed his influence in our industry and look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Martin on the critical issues facing the deaf and hard-of-hearing as we move forward."

Sorenson Communications continues to support the FCC and Chairman Martin on efforts to break down communication barriers. Chairman Martin's willingness to meet with deaf community leaders on key issues and support of industry issues has ushered in a new era of communications for the 28 million deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in America.

(C) 2006 Sorenson Communications. All products and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.


GoAmerica and Nordia Announce Exclusive Agreement for Multi-Vendor California Relay Services

Press Release Source: GoAmerica, Inc.

GoAmerica(R) and Nordia Announce Exclusive Agreement for Multi-Vendor California Relay Services

Tuesday April 25, 2006 Becomes Exclusive IP-based Relay Solution for Nordia's California Relay Contract
HACKENSACK, N.J., April 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — GoAmerica, Inc. (Nasdaq: GOAM – News), a leading provider of accessible communications services for the Deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled communities, announced today that its service has been chosen as the exclusive IP-based relay service for Nordia's California Relay Services (CRS) contract. offers text-based TRS (telecommunications relay service) calling via the Internet, often called "IP relay". Deaf callers use a Web-enabled computer or wireless handheld device to place calls, which are connected to a relay operator. The relay operator calls the voice number and then verbally speaks the text message typed by the Deaf caller to the hearing recipient and types the hearing party's responses back to the Deaf party.

Nordia, one of three state contract holders that provide relay services to the state of California, previously offered its own IP relay service under the brand. Nordia chose to replace its own service with due to i711's breadth of service features, strong wireless relay offerings, and the ability of users to access through AOL Instant Messenger. Effective today, relay calls previously placed through Nordia's relay website,, now are processed through GoAmerica's website.

" has consistently delivered feature enhancements and access methods that we believe are important to our customers in California," said Bernard Durocher, Executive Vice President of Nordia, Inc. "Directing all of our IP relay traffic to expands our current partnership with GoAmerica and strengthens Nordia's position in the state because we are providing an even better IP relay experience for the consumer."

"We are thrilled that our service meets Nordia's and the State of California's stringent relay standards," said Dan Luis, CEO of GoAmerica. "We're looking forward to working with Nordia and the many Deaf organizations throughout California to educate consumers about our unique calling features and the mobile and online methods of accessing"

Nordia will continue supplying TTY/TDD dial-up relay services to Deaf consumers throughout California as part of its existing California Relay Service contract with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) which is funded by a small surcharge on California telephone bills.

Smart Dialing, Custom Calling, and More

California IP relay users will benefit immediately from i711's exclusive smart dialing, custom calling, and bonus features, making the IP relay experience better and reflective of each user's call preferences.

Smart dialing features include the i711 Phone Book, i711 Speed Dial and a Recent Calls list which together enable users to make most relay calls in just one click.

Custom calling features include the ability to assign specific call characteristics to people in the i711 Phone Book, so calls to those people happen the same way every time they're dialed. Users can also change font size and color for the conversation window, so calls transpire exactly as the customer wants. also includes "bonus features" such as the Toolbar with ClickRelay(TM) which enables users to make relay calls from any Web page in just one click.

i711 Wireless(TM) and Access through AIM

Announced in February, i711 Wireless is the wireless counterpart to and runs as a standalone application on T-Mobile Sidekicks. GoAmerica expects to launch the service on RIM BlackBerry handhelds later this quarter. Downloaded directly onto the devices it runs on, i711 Wireless delivers fast relay calls with a familiar user interface.

Users can also access GoAmerica's text relay services through AOL Instant Messenger, whether from a PC or mobile device, by sending an instant message to "i711relay" or adding that name to the user's Buddy List.

Relay and Beyond(SM)

In addition to the service's core relay features, offers users a number of free services that users can also customize to their personal tastes. These include:
     Weekly Articles. users receive exclusive, weekly columns by
     noted Deaf authors. Topics include Deaf culture, technology, employment,
     sports and entertainment, and news on the international Deaf community.

     News Headlines. Users can choose to display headlines from popular
     community news sources such as the Deaf Professionals Network,, USA-L News,, and others, as well as
     headlines from traditional news sources.

     InSight Open Captioned Movie Information. automatically provides
     users with a list of nearby open captioned films, courtesy of InSight


California relay users can make relay calls now by visiting directly, or through a link found on Nordia's website.

i711 Wireless downloads and installs automatically in minutes and is available now for T-Mobile Sidekick users. Visit for the five easy download steps, or for information on other i711 Wireless options. BlackBerry users who send an email message to will automatically be notified by email when the service is launched on that platform.

All i711 relay calls are free. Registration, required to access some of the service's custom features and content, is also free by visiting

For a live demonstration of and i711 Wireless relay, visit the booth at Deaf Nation Expo at Pomona on April 29th.

About CRS

The Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP) is a program of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), providing Californians who are deaf and disabled with equipment and relay services through the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP) and California Relay Service (CRS), respectively. CRS provides specially-trained Relay Operators and Communications Assistants to relay telephone conversations back and forth between people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-disabled and all those they wish to communicate with by telephone.

About Nordia

Nordia is a leading contact centre company and world-class provider of multi-contact customer relationship management solutions; a fast-growing company offering multilingual contact center services 24/7 under rigorous quality standards. Nordia has seven contact centers across Canada with a team of more than 2,200 employees handling more than 100 million customer contacts per year.

Nordia agents handle calls, e-mails and chats, and are trained to master specialist programs such as Directory Assistance and Teleconference services, as well as Relay Services provided to deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech- disabled communities. To learn more about Nordia, visit

About GoAmerica

GoAmerica provides a wide range of wireless, relay and prepaid communications services, customized for people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled. The Company's vision is to improve the quality of life of its customers by being their premier provider of innovative communication services. For more information on the Company or its services, visit or contact GoAmerica directly at TTY 201-527-1520, voice 201-996-1717 or via Internet relay by visiting

GoAmerica And Nordia Agrees For Multi-Vendor California Relay Services

GoAmerica And Nordia Agrees For Multi-Vendor California Relay Services

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

(RTTNews) – On Tuesday, GoAmerica,Inc. a leading provider of accessible communications services for the Deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled communities, announced today that its service has been chosen as the exclusive IP-based relay service for Nordia's California Relay Services contract.

Copyright(c) 2006, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Calabrio and CSD Efficiently Connect Deaf Community to Outside World

Calabrio and CSD Efficiently Connect Deaf Community to Outside World

Tuesday April 18, 2006

99.5% Accuracy Rate Takes Guesswork Out of Workforce Management

MONTREAL, April 18 /PRNewswire/ — Calabrio, Inc., a leading provider of contact center workforce management (WFM) solutions, today announced working with Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) to reengineer its complex and unique contact center operations. With Calabrio's technology in place, CSD can now solve costly challenges in many contact center locations to more effectively serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

CSD is evolving the contact center industry with its innovative "video relay service" to communicate with deaf callers, given the growing popularity of broadband Internet which enables richer communications beyond the usual teletype. This unique service enables callers to more easily and quickly communicate through sign language interpreters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. CSD is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a broad continuum of social and human service programs, as well as telecommunications relay services.

But on top of the thousands of calls it receives every day in its video relay division alone, CSD's challenges include running dozens of other contact centers in a fast-paced environment. Because its call center agents are highly qualified and specialized, it needed to ensure it was making the best use of that scarce resource. More than simply certified interpreters with 5-10 years of experience, the agents also need to be knowledgeable about the myriad issues that a person could possibly call about. Like many contact centers, CSD usually erred on the side of overstaffing to ensure service levels would be met, but this was an expensive strategy given its labor costs.

Benjamin Soukup, chief executive officer for CSD, explained, "We needed a much more accurate workforce management system than our homegrown method of pulling data from switch reports and crunching numbers on a calculator. As a non-profit organization, we always look for affordability as well as effectiveness in our solutions. After evaluating several systems, including the largest WFM vendors, we chose Calabrio as the one with the best price, features, services and support to meet our needs."

With Calabrio's ability to help its customer achieve an unprecedented accuracy of 99.5% and greater, CSD could now take the guesswork out of forecasting and scheduling. This precision reduced CSD's need for overstaffing, thereby generating immediate savings. By deploying its agents more intelligently and efficiently, CSD could ensure that community interpreting services would not be compromised from the increased demand for video relay interpreting.

"We are proud to work with CSD in helping them open up the world to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community," said Rene LeBel, chief executive officer and founder of Calabrio. "CSD is reinventing their industry — providing functionally-equivalent telephone access for all deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans. With Calabrio, CSD is making the most out of its precious resources, to the benefit of the people it serves."

About CSD

CSD (a.k.a. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.) was established in 1975, primarily to provide sign language interpreting services to deaf and hard of hearing adults in South Dakota. Today, CSD employs over 3,000 individuals in offices across the nation, providing a broad continuum of social and human service programs, as well as telecommunications relay services. CSD is a private nonprofit agency dedicated to providing quality services; ensuring public accessibility; and increasing awareness of issues affecting the deaf, hard of hearing and individuals with speech disabilities. For more information, please visit

About Calabrio, Inc.

Calabrio's workforce management solutions are used by companies worldwide, such as Blue Cross, Direct TV, MasterCard, MBNA, Sears and hundreds more. From our start in 1995 — and now with offices in Canada, United States and Europe — Calabrio is one of the very first to give multi-site and multi-channel management capabilities to today's evolving contact centers. Unlike competitors, Calabrio offers an unmatched forecasting and scheduling accuracy of up to 99.5% as well as a full range of additional capabilities at no extra charge, such as skills- and performance-based scheduling, KPIs, payroll integration, and much more. As a result, our customers can dramatically improve productivity, employee satisfaction and efficiency, which in turn drive customer service and profitability. For more information, please visit

Discontinuation of Free Web-Cam and High Speed Internet Reimbursement Program

Dear LifeLinks Users,

On behalf of LifeLinks, we would like to thank you for using our service. LifeLinks is honored to be the Deaf community’s VRS and we are determined to provide communication for a better world.

We are sad to announce that our free Web-Cam offer and High-Speed Internet reimbursement program have ended. Web-Cams will no longer be distributed and we are no longer accepting new applications for free High-Speed internet. However, we are proud to say that we have donated all web-cams in stock, and during this offer thousands of Web-Cam’s were given away and we were able to install High-Speed Internet into hundreds of households.

Unfortunately, our offers have been abused and we have recently found that many of our gifts were obtained by those /outside/ of the Deaf community. For this reason we are forced to place all current internet payments on hold until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that you be patient during this process.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service representatives:

VP#: (request customer service rep)
TTY#: 212 714-9889

On behalf of LifeLinks, we would like to thank you for sharing yourselves with us and allowing us the opportunity to fulfill our mission of being the community’s VRS.

The LifeLinks Family

Deaf, Perhaps, But Not Mute

Deaf, Perhaps, But Not Mute

By Ryan Singel 
Apr, 13, 2006

An FCC program for the deaf sounds like the modern equivalent of ringing Mabel the operator down at the phone exchange so she can patch through your call. Assuming, of course, that Mabel has signing skills.

The system, called video relay services, or VRS, is proving a godsend to the deaf and hearing-impaired, allowing them to communicate using American Sign Language through a translator to a third party.

Increasing numbers of the hearing-impaired are now using various sorts of video phones with VRS to place calls to each other and to the hearing world.

VRS providers are paid approximately $6 a minute by the FCC from a tax levied on every U.S. phone bill. That makes VRS an expensive replacement for conventional TDD-based services, in which an operator relays between a deaf person typing on a computer terminal and a hearing person on the phone. Those calls cost the FCC about $1 a minute.

But the technology is a quantum leap for deaf people, according to Pat Nola, CEO of Sorenson Communications, the nation's largest VRS provider.

For the deaf, switching to the new service is like a hearing person going from Morse code to a telephone, says Nola.

"What is subtle is that American Sign Language is spoken with hands, and it is so different than English," Nola said. "With VRS, the hearing and deaf can be connected in the natural language of both parties, and it is a very effective way to communicate emotions since the interpreter emotes…. To communicate the emotions you hear in a person's voice, the interpreter signs in a certain way to a deaf person."

Grant Laird Jr., who runs the community site Deaf Network, concurs.

"You are able to express your emotion thru VRS with your natural sign language — unlike TTY (teletype terminals) with limited text messages (where) no emotion shows," said Laird, a 36-year-old semiconductor specialist at Texas Instruments who is deaf. "We are getting close to 100 percent independent."

Laird uses a video phone to call his parents, who are also deaf, though he says they are only slowly adapting to the new technology.

Members of Laird's immediate family all carry mobile devices, such as the Sidekick, to keep in touch using instant messaging. His wife is also deaf, and they have two teenage daughters who are not hearing-impaired.

He also uses a competing VRS service from LifeLinks, which provides the deaf with a broadband connection, a webcam and video-phone software from SightSpeed. LifeLinks provides VRS translators, but the deaf can also use the software for free calls to other deaf people.

SightSpeed's service, which is free for anyone to use, includes a video-mail inbox and technology that refreshes only the most important aspects of a video frame in order to optimize the frame rate, according to SightSpeed President Scott Lomond.

Laird says he likes SightSpeed for work and travel, but says it has its limitations. For instance, when using SightSpeed in a room without good lighting, Laird is forced to slow down his signing so he can be understood by the interpreter.

By comparison, Sorenson provides the deaf with a company-designed video camera called the VP-100, which sits on top of a television and shows the interpreter or deaf friend full-screen. The company allows deaf people to place calls to and from each other for free — a popular feature that enjoys almost eight times the use of Sorenson's VRS service, according to CEO Nola.,70585-0.html?tw=wn_technology_1

Special gear helps deaf, blind communicate

Special gear helps deaf, blind communicate

Tue, Apr. 11, 2006


The deaf and blind of South Carolina have relief when it comes to phone communication. Free assistance is available through the state-supported S.C. Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program.

The program provides equipment such as amplified telephones, text telephones, artificial larynxes and alerting devices to S.C. residents who have vision, speech and hearing problems.

Anne Bader, a local outreach coordinator for the program, helps residents gain access to much-needed equipment .

Diagnosed with sensory neural hearing loss, she is not only a paid advocate of the program, but a user.

“This equipment has truly improved my ability to be independent and productive,” Bader said.

The program has helped more than 13,000 residents, 78 percent of whom are older than 65 and dealing with late-onset hearing loss.

However, the program is open to people of all ages as long as they are S.C. residents, have home phone service and have a certified disability that causes difficulty using a standard phone.

Funding for the program is provided through the Dual Party Relay Fund and is collected by a monthly surcharge to all business and residential phone lines in the state. The surcharge is currently 15 cents and is listed as Telecommunications Relay Service on monthly phone bills.

Cindy Willis, an employee in interpretive services at the School for the Deaf and Blind in Spartanburg, started using phones from the program 18 months ago. She heard about the program from a friend.

“(Before) I had confusion with phone calls and shied away from using the phone,” Willis said. “Now I have more confidence making the phone calls I need to make,” she said.

The program determines which equipment is best for individuals and upgrades equipment with improved technology.

The program currently is testing a new captioned telephone that displays written, word-for-word captions of everything the caller says.


(803) 896-8337 (voice) or (803) 896-8334 (text telephone)

Toll-free, (877) 225-8337 (voice) or (877) 889-8337 (text)