Video relay service for Deaf persons requires society's infrastructure

A Deaf woman uses a video relay service to convey an intention through the operator (right), who interprets her signed message simultaneously.

May 20, 2014 

The opinion is expressed one after another from the Deaf community about the video relay service for a person who are Deaf/deaf which Nippon Foundation located in Minato-ku, Tokyo started in 2013.

"I did not know a telephone was that convenient!"
"I got the wonderfulness which leads in real time!"

The demerit in the use of a telephone is serious for a Deaf/deaf person. They cannot get the work using a telephone. They cannot do reservation or an inquiry with a hospital, a restaurant, etc. simply. They cannot immediately contact a card issuer, etc., even if they lose a credit card. Indeed there is no system for the Deaf/deaf to make an emergency call quickly to the police office, the fire department, etc.

Nippon Foundation outsourced the entrepreneur who has sign language interpreters and note takers, and started relay service in a tentative way in September, 2013.

In the half a year since September, 658 Deaf/deaf persons registered. There was use for an average of 63 times and about 11 hours one day. There are about 900 current registrants.

According to Nippon Foundation, at least 21 nations mainly in Europe and the U.S. offer the video relay service for Deaf/deaf persons as one of the public services. In Asia, relay service is carried out in South Korea and Thailand.

In order to change the present condition that the Deaf community cannot use a telephone, Nippon Foundation will summarize the proposal in the near future which asks for equal access to a telephone, and work on the Diet (Parliament), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, a telecommunications company, etc.

Ishii Yasunobu (石井靖乃), the public benefit volunteer group chief of the Foundation, explained, "A Deaf person uses a telephone in the same way as, for example, a person with wheelchair using the elevator which the railroad company installed in order to use a train. We would like to make a society where a person uses telephone naturally even if he/she is Deaf or hard of hearing."

Japanese sources:

Related links:
Call for Deaf people to test telecommunication service

Popular telecommunication services for the Deaf in Japan

Opinion: Charge of video remote interpreting should be shared by all the telephone users


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