Vernon council pushes for video relay service

Vernon politicians are lending their voice to those who can’t hear.

Vernon politicians are lending their voice to those who can’t hear.

Council will write the Canadian Radio Television Telecommunications Commission demanding there be a permanent video relay service for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and those they communicate with.

“It’s an effective tool and makes people feel part of society,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

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 trail basis for 18 months but funding ceased in January.

“I’m not sure why it’s been taken away,” said Cunningham.

“Quality of life is limited because they don’t have those tools. It shouldn’t be just about the money.”

Arlene Brenner, who has been deaf since birth, has experienced significant challenges since the video relay service ended, including not being able to communicate with her mother.

“How wonderful it would be to communicate with my mother on a daily basis over the VRS and not have to worry if she needs my help,” said Brenner.

Coun. Catherine Lord fully supports Brenner’s campaign to have the video relay service restore.

“The project has been working well and I see no reason as to why they cut it out,” she said.

“It provides a venue for more communication.”

Council will also push for 24-hour access to 911 though text messaging and photos to ensure the emergency needs of deaf residents are addressed.