Monday, 8 February 2016

Press Release from Sorenson about Introduction of Video Relay Services in Canada

For release: Jan. 25, 2016

Sorenson Statement on the Introduction of Video Relay Service in Canada

SALT LAKE CITY and BURNABY, Canada (Jan. 25, 2016) — Five years ago, in February
2011, Video Relay Service (VRS) was available 24/7 to a select number of Deaf users in Alberta
and British Columbia. The service was being provided by Sorenson Communications of
Canada, ULC, a subsidiary of Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson), in a market trial
conducted by TELUS Communications Company (TELUS) and authorized by the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). There were a total of 306 Deaf
participants in the market trial, supported by 90 qualified American Sign Language (ASL)
interpreters who were based out of Sorenson VRS interpreting centers in Edmonton and
Vancouver.

As required by the CRTC, the TELUS trial was completed in January 2012, and the results were
presented to the CRTC in a public hearing. TELUS informed the CRTC that the Deaf
participants reported the VRS service provided by Sorenson in the trial was an outstanding
product that dramatically changed the manner in which they could communicate.
Sorenson was prepared to expand the service, initially provided through the TELUS market trial,
on a national basis, using Sorenson VRS interpreting centers, located from coast-to-coast – in
Victoria, Burnaby, Langley, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax.
In December 2015, the Canadian Administrator of VRS, Inc. (CAV), a new not-for-profit
corporation mandated by the CRTC to design, implement and oversee the delivery of VRS in
Canada, issued a Request for Proposal that would result in the awarding of multiple contracts to
video interpreter providers. Sometime in 2016, those providers would initially introduce VRS in
Canada on a limited basis. Because of the terms and conditions being imposed by CAV on the
potential video interpreter providers, Sorenson made the difficult decision not to bid on the
contract. There were many reasons for this decision. The most fundamental was that the VRS
service that was so successful in the TELUS market trial in Alberta and British Columbia could
not be replicated by Sorenson on a national basis in Canada under the terms and conditions
established by the CAV.

It is important for Deaf consumers to understand that VRS will be controlled and ultimately
provided by the CAV and not by experienced companies like Sorenson. CAV will do this by
having different companies provide the various components, such as the technical platform and
the video interpreter services that together provide VRS. Critically important planning and
operating decisions like the number of interpreters on duty at any one time will be made by yet
another company. This means the video interpreter companies selected to provide the
interpreter services (there will be more than one) will be told the time they can operate (not
24/7), the number of interpreters they can have on duty, the qualifications of the interpreters, the
customers they will be permitted to serve and the way in which reimbursement will be made (to
be negotiated). There will be no direct connection between the technical platform provider
company and the video interpreter companies to troubleshoot and address inevitable system
issues. Furthermore, the CAV will require the video interpreter companies selected to transfer,
without any payment to them, their operating standards, training materials, methods,
procedures, documentation and supporting materials for the unfettered use of the CAV.
Collectively, this represents the intellectual property that has taken Sorenson some 13 years to
develop and is one of its most important assets. This defines and protects Sorenson’s cuttingedge
solution and is the basis for Sorenson’s ability to provide our high-quality service in the
competitive marketplace. To give it away would be irresponsible.

This was not an easy decision for Sorenson. Since 2008, Sorenson has been active in the
public discussion regarding the introduction of VRS in Canada. Sorenson has engaged in
community outreach, participated in every CRTC public hearing and has demonstrated the
feasibility of making VRS available to Canadians in a timely manner. Sorenson also made a
significant investment in Canada through the establishment of nine call centers and provided
advanced training for skilled Sorenson Canadian interpreters. This investment was made based
on Sorenson’s experience in its leadership role in developing, implementing and providing VRS
in the United States. During this time, Sorenson had an “open door” policy and provided
interested persons from the Deaf community and government with tours and demonstrations of
Sorenson activities.

In Sorenson’s view, and based on our direct experience, VRS could have and should have been
introduced in Canada a number of years ago. It is not an exaggeration to say that VRS is a
transformative technology and service, the only technology that provides functionally-equivalent
service for Deaf people and empowers them to fully participate in their own lives and in the
greater community. Given the successful implementation of VRS in many other parts of the
world, it is highly unfortunate that it is taking so long to be introduced in Canada.

This view is shared by others. In December 2015, when the Ottawa Police Service announced
that persons who are Deaf, hard-of-hearing or unable to speak will be able to use their cell
phones to text 911 with information about their emergency starting in 2016, representatives of
the Canadian Hearing Society responded, noting while it is a step in the right direction, what
they also want is VRS. Sorenson agrees with the Canadian Hearing Society’s conclusion and
anticipates that 2016 will finally be the year for the initial introduction of VRS in Canada.
Sorenson remains interested in providing VRS in Canada should the terms and circumstances
ever change.

About Sorenson Communications
Sorenson Communications® (www.sorenson.com) is a provider of industry-leading
communications products and services for the Deaf. The company's offerings include Sorenson
Video Relay Service® (SVRS®), the highest-quality video interpreting service; the Sorenson
ntouch® VP videophone, designed especially for use by Deaf individuals; ntouch® PC, software
that connects users to SVRS by using a PC and webcam; ntouch® for Mac®, software that
connects users to SVRS by using an Apple® computer; ntouch® Tablet, which turns the Apple
iPad® with a front-facing camera into a larger-screen mobile VP; and ntouch® Mobile, an
application empowering SVRS communication via mobile devices.

Press Contact
Ann Bardsley
Sorenson Communications
801-287-9400
abardsley@sorenson.com