A visitor at the International Blind and Deaf Expo in Florida made his first phone call in Sign Language using a VRS service. With the help of a trilingual interpreter, he was able to call his Spanish speaking mother and see her responses in English on screen.

It was at the International Blind and Deaf Expo in Orlando, Florida last year that nWise had the pleasure of meeting José, a young man who was visiting the expo. José was interested in trying a product that had become popular among deaf-blind visitors during the day (read about Sharon’s experience here), as the service enables deaf users to call an interpreter who will translate sign language for the person on the other line.

José himself is deaf and has very little vision, and had therefore never been able to make a phone call without assistance. He does not use Brielle for reading and writing, but he is used to reading enlarged text. José communicates in three different languages. He reads in English, is signing in American Sign Language and within his network most people are hearing and only understands Spanish. Therefore, there are many things that need to be in place for a phone call to go smoothly. José needs a large screen with the same contrasts that he is used to and works for him. With white text on black background, and with large text size on his incoming messages in case there is no one around who is able to sign in his hand, José can read. He also needs an interpreter who is trilingual in Spanish, English and American Sign Language.

At the expo, nWise were able to set José up with the VRS service, and asks him who he would like to call. He thinks for a while and then signs “Mom. I would like to call my mom”.

José calls and the interpreter picks up. José lets her know in ASL that he is deafblind, and that he needs the interpreter to type back to him in English. He explains that his mother speaks only Spanish, and the interpreter tells him that it is no problem at all.

The interpreter dials the number José gives her. This is José’s first phone call without any assistance, just the him and the interpreter. His mum picks up the phone, and through three different languages the call runs without any issues. The room fills with hope and excitement, José and his mother are overjoyed and full of laughter.

“There’s just one more thing Mom, before I hang up”, José says.
“Yes, what is is?”, his mother answers.
“I love you”. 

Read mote about VRS HERE