The Maricopa Public Library in Arizona launches VideoPhone technology and service for use by deaf and hard of hearing community members who use ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate. Deaf patrons who lack smart phones or high-speed Internet at home can access the Video Relay System (VRS) to call just about anyone instead of relying on family members, friends or older and antiquated TTY technology.
When: Aug. 20, 9 a.m.
Where: Maricopa Public Library, 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road
Who: Everyone invited
The idea to have this free service available to those who lack auditory and vocal acuity and who use ASL (American Sign Language), was initiated and coordinated by Fred Greenspan President of Tylin Promotions based in the City of Maricopa. Greenspan is the developer of the nationally given deaf sensitivity training class entitled “I Never Gave THAT A Thought!” at www.DeafSensitivityTraining.com.
“It all began in the City of Maricopa, Arizona. It is a pleasure to assist members of society who have a hearing loss,” Greenspan said.
Local resident William Prentice, who is Deaf, will place the first official call to the White House. The next calls will be to Robert Cooper, Executive Director of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing in Topeka followed by calls made and received by Mayor Christian Price, his wife Cindy who signs, Arizona Congressman Tom O’Halleran, and Fred Greenspan who also signs.
The VideoPhone, or VP as it is commonly called in the Deaf community, was granted to the library from Sorenson Communications and is very easy to use. The “phone” can be used in two languages, English and Spanish, to users who are either deaf, or hard of hearing in a variety of different ways. When connecting a deaf user to a hearing user or business, there is an American Sign Language interpreter available for the calls.
“We are thrilled,” Library Manager Erik Surber said. “This is such a great opportunity for the patrons and the community.”
Though Arizona Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Valley Center of the Deaf, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix Deaf Community Center, and Phoenix College all have videophone (VP) services, the Maricopa Public Library is the first library in Arizona outside the Phoenix Metropolitan area to have VP capability that we are aware of. VP calls are paid for with monies collected from communications taxes on phone bills, thus enabling those calls to be fee-free for uses.
Surber said he anticipates several Deaf and hard of hearing individuals from Maricopa to use the service. An estimated 4,600 Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals reside in or around the City of Maricopa.
Instructions for use of the system are available during Library hours, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
General VP connectivity across the United States is just like that of a standard phone line, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and available on all holidays.