Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Colorado deaf community worries about future of video relay services

From KRDO-TV in Colorado:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A service geared at allowing the hearing impaired to conduct long distance phone conversations is facing possible cuts.

"Using video relay system is a lot easier to talk to friends and doctors," said Ye Chan Johnson through her husband, Leonard Johnson.

The Johnsons read some information from their provider that lead Leonard to believe federal cuts could cause the end of a communication system his wife uses everyday.

"Me, being a truck driver, I'm gone four to three weeks at a time, and the only time I come back is if she needs something or if I have Army Reserve drill dates," said Leonard.

Leonard also told NEWSCHANNEL13 the Video Relay System is a way to bring the hearing and nonhearing worlds together. "If I'm out at work and she says she needs me to get a milk before I come home...In the old days you couldn't do that."

If Leonard is redeployed to Iraq and the system is eliminated, he would be unable to have efficient and frequent conversations with his wife. The information the Johnson's read has been taken down the provider's website, but he is still trying to find out if any proposed cuts would take something essential away form his family.

"If they take that away, I'd have to get out of the reserves, and take an early retirement. I can't see myself deploying without communication with my wife," Leonard said.

NEWSCHANNEL13 put in a call to the FCC to get an answer for the Johnson family, but did not get a call back.