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STLCC-Meramec Receives Video Relay Phone for Individuals Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

June 11, 2014

videophone  
Scott Armstead prepares to place a call using the
Sorenson Video Relay Service located in the
Meramec library.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have a new tool at their disposal on the campus of St. Louis Community College-Meramec.

The campus library now has a video relay phone that enables people who are deaf and hard of hearing to make telephone calls to any phone number using the Sorenson Video Relay Service (SVRS). Through this free, 24-hour service, those who are deaf or hard of hearing can connect with others through an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter using a high-speed internet connection and videophone.

Calls use the videophone, which connects to a monitor through a computer with a web camera. The user who is deaf or hard of hearing and an ASL interpreter can see and sign with each other. The interpreter then calls the user who can hear with a standard telephone line and relays the conversation between the two parties.

“It is similar to providing a type of ‘Face Time’ for people who are deaf,” said Linda Nissenbaum, manager of disability support services at STLCC-Meramec. “Sign language is often a deaf person’s first language. Since sign is not exact English, sometimes it is harder to get the true meaning of their messages across via text or email.”

The videophone is not only for Meramec students.

“Since the library is open to the public, the video relay phone is available to the public,” said Scott Armstead, an adaptive technology specialist at Meramec. “As long as our computers remain publicly accessible, the videophone service will be available.”

The phone is available on a first-come, first-served basis during normal library hours, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.