Featured Article from Conferencing

Conferencing's Next Frontier: Help for the Deaf

April 25, 2016

As word (no pun intended) about the value of conferencing continues to spread through the enterprise, yet another benefit has popped up: helping the deaf.

According to a report from Prescott, Arizona’s, Daily Courier newspaper, a free offering from a company called Arizona Relay Service (ARS) is designed to help the deaf better participate in conference calls by closed-captioning what is spoken.

“Similar to the closed captioning seen on live television, stenographers working through ARS listen in on the meeting and deliver real-time text streamed to an internet-connected computer, mobile device or tablet anywhere in the world,” the Courier said. “The user of the service may request complete transcripts of the meeting after the call is completed.”

Company representative Ken Arcia said this service makes a huge difference in the business world, and he should know: Arcia became deaf at age 21 due to Neurofibromatosis, Type 2, which manifests itself in the development of symmetric, non-malignant brain tumors in the region of the cranial nerve VIII, which is the "auditory-vestibular nerve" that transmits sensory information from the inner ear to the brain.

To take advantage of Relay Conference Captioning, users only need to go to www.ArizonaARCC.com to schedule the service. A conference call ‘captioner’ is guaranteed if the event is booked with at least 48 hours advance notice (two working days). Calls must occur during regular business hours, begin at or later than 8 a.m. and must conclude at or prior to 6 p.m. in their time zone.

While many may not be aware, federal law requires every state in the U.S. to offer a telecommunications relay service. These systems are designed to allow those who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have a speech disorder to place calls to standard telephone users via a keyboard or assistive device.

In addition to its captioning service, ARS also has a telephone equipment program. It allows anyone with hearing loss or a speech disability to get free equipment such as telephones with amplifiers or captions from the state.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi