Deaf services gaining support

Lake Country is the latest community to support improved communications for the deaf.

Council will urge the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission to initiate permanent video relay service (VRS) for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and those they communicate with.

“We definitely support trying to get it into Canada,” said Mayor James Baker.

“I’m not sure why it’s not available here.”

VRS consists of a deaf person signing via a videophone linked through the Internet to a sign language interpreter. The interpreter then relays the conversation vocally to the hearing recipient.

Telus provided the service on a trial basis for 18 months but funding ceased in January.

The district became aware of the issue after a presentation from Arlene Brenner, who has been deaf since birth.

She has experienced challenges communicating with friends and family, including her mother, since the video relay service ended.

Brenner is also unable to contact 911 if there is an emergency.

Baker says his council has focused on improving accessibility for all residents and supporting video relay service fits into that mandate.

“It provides the ability for people to get in touch with others. It’s really difficult if you can’t communicate,” he said.

Brenner’s campaign has  also received support from Coldstream and Vernon councils.


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