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Jed Boal reporting
New technology is revolutionizing the way the deaf and hard of hearing communicate.
A Utah company has developed a better telephone.
Gary Leavitt loves his new technology. He's deaf, but he's having a lively videophone conversation with his parents in California. It's a new Video Relay Service, or V-R-S for deaf and hard-of-hearing. Leavitt says it's truly changing lives for those who have the service.
Gary Leavitt: "THE NUMBERS ARE INCREASING...FASTER THAN THEY CAN GET INFORMATION."
The videophone, developed by Sorenson Media, uses the same technology that enables families to talk face-to-face with troops overseas: video compression.
James L. Sorenson Jr./Sorenson Media: THE DEAF CAN COMMUNICATE...INTERPRETS HEARING ON THE PHONE."
Here's how it works, the deaf individual dials up the interpreter center in Taylorsville. The interpreter calls the number, and carries on the conversation.
Julie Orchard/Public Service Commission: "THEY CAN EXPRESS THEMSELVES...JUST LIKE YOU AND I."
Jed Boal/Eyewitness News: "IN THE PAST, THE DEAF HAD TO COMMUNICATE WITH A TEXT BASED SYSTEM, WHICH WAS SLOW...THIS REALLY OPENS UP THEIR COMMUNICATION."
Gary Leavitt: "THE OLD-FASHIONED TYPING TOOK TOO LONG...WITH THIS I CAN RELATE WHAT'S GOING ON IN MY LIFE."
Sorenson Media provides the videophones for V-S-R users with broadband service. The federal government picks up the cost of the service.
The company is launching the service nationwide this week, and the Public Service Commission expects the number of calls to take off.