:: CCSD and CAD Affiliates ::

CAD-CCSD VRS in Canada

TO: Members of the Deaf Community; Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD); Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) Affiliates; AVLIC President and Members
RE: Video Relay Service (VRS)
Date: January 31, 2007
__________________________________________________________

This is a brief update to let you all know what is happening with VRS in Canada. Everyone has different opinions or information about what is happening and so we wish to update everyone together. We have not forgotten about this need and we have not forgotten you.

CAD and CCSD submitted their proposal to the CRTC for a national VRS in August 2006. The problem is funding. It is easy for us to say, that the government should fund it. In reality, this does not happen so we are relying on CRTC’s decision to push for funding from telecommunications companies. We had several meetings with the CRTC one year ago. We applied to the government and got approval for a company called Sign Relay Canada – Service de Relais Canada Corporation, at arms length from CAD-CCSD but with CAD and CCSD as the overseeing Board.

We submitted our proposal for national VRS in August, 2006 the first chance we had after six months of CRTC proceedings. CRTC proceedings must follow strict rules and they decided we should not submit our proposal so soon because it was bending rules. It took them three months to decide to call another proceeding to deal with the accessibility issues.

They then extended the deadline for proposal submissions again (due February 19, 2007) in order to give telecommunications companies more time to submit their proposals. Once they have made a decision about whether VRS should be at a national or provincial level, we believe it will be set up right away, hopefully by the end of 2007.

People have been asking, “What about Sorenson? They have a call centre in Canada, right?” They are asking for sign language interpreters applications, etc. We need to clarify it is for US services, not Canada. They are in dire need of ASL interpreters for the US.

Our position is to have a national level VRS in Canada with Canadian interpreters and Canadian workers. The new CRTC proceeding which you can follow at the CRTC’s own website, www.crtc.gc.ca at Telecom Public Notice 2006-15 sets out a one year timeline that makes it clear when VRS will finally start up. If we win this funding fight, it would be up and running on the national level by the end of 2007. If Bell and Telus win their fight, it will be up and running in only four provinces probably by the beginning of 2008.

Stay with us on this…we have not forgotten you.

Helen Pizzacalla, President, Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf and Sheila Carlin, President, Canadian Association of the Deaf

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