Hearing impaired garners Coldstream support

Council wants to ensure there is permanent video relay service for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and those they communicate with.

Improving communications for the deaf has the support of Coldstream.

Council wants the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission to ensure there is permanent video relay service for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and those they communicate with.

“It’s incredible in this day when they can provide a service people really need, they aren’t providing the service,” said Coun. Gyula Kiss.

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.

Coun. Maria Besso opposed writing a letter of support because she says council doesn’t have sufficient information on why the service stopped.

“It seems like it could be very labour intensive for a small group of people,” she said.

The district decided to take action after a presentation from Arlene Brenner, who has been deaf since birth.

She has been unable to communicate with people around her, including her mother, since the video relay service ended.

“You have all of the communications, I don’t,” she told council.

The situation has been critical since her mother  went into the hospital.

“There is no way I can contact the doctors or nurses,” she said.

“They can’t inform me if something happens to my mom.”

Brenner says the other problem is she is unable to contact 911 if there is an emergency like a fire,