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CyraCom’s First Annual ASL-VRI Community Forum

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November 1, 2014 marked the first ASL-VRI community forum held at CyraCom’s Tucson Airport Center. It was a wonderful event that gave the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in Tucson the opportunity to visit and learn about the ASL-VRI (American Sign Language Video Remote Interpretation) services CyraCom provides nationally.

I, Victor Collazo, the ASL Operations Manager at CyraCom, and Melanie Miller, ASL-VRI Interpreter, gave the presentation in ASL and took the attendees on a tour of the facilities. The attendees enjoyed seeing where the ASL interpreters were located. It also gave Melanie Miller, who is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), a chance to show her parents where she works.

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The ASL VRI community forum began with a short video that was closed captioned, explaining CyraCom’s VRI services. Attendees commented how well the video was produced and that they were equally impressed that it was closed captioned!

Captioning video on websites that serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is very important in demonstrating the need for complete access to online resources and information. Millions of Hard of Hearing individuals who do not know ASL would also benefit from captioned videos.

Attendees were shocked to see that not only did CyraCom provide carts for VRI but that VRI services were also accessible through smart devices like smart phones and tablets. The flexibility in being able to connect to an ASL interpreter was seen as a very good feature.

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The community forum was scheduled for 2 hours from 11:00am to 1:00pm but lasted well after 2:00pm. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community leaders as well as individuals that have used VRI (video remote interpreting) participated in a healthy and important discussion regarding video remote interpreting services. Topics of discussion included an introduction to CyraCom, the qualifications of CyraCom’s ASL Interpreters, challenges sometimes facing new technologies, and the need to lower the waiting time for interpreting services in the healthcare setting.

All of the attendees were very impressed with CyraCom’s commitment to serving not only the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community but everyone who is in need of interpreting services.

At 12:30pm we all sat down and had some lunch. This was a great way again to continue our discussions but it also gave me the opportunity to get to know everyone who attended. The day concluded with a tour of the call center. Attendees were very impressed with the size and sophistication of the call center and expressed their thanks to CyraCom for allowing the opportunity to learn about their services.

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