|Click thumbnail to enlarge.|
It’s a given fact that the technological advancements of late are, to the hearing-impaired, rendered obsolete. With the Filipino deaf community amounting to an estimated three to four million, Telecommunications Service Network for the Deaf (TSND) steps up to introduce a groundbreaking technology that breaks the barriers of language through a convenient teleconference sign language interpreting service—the Video Relay Service (VRS).
Because the right to communicate is a crucial ability not many of us are blessed with, VRS is developed to give the deaf community equal access to communications. Its major components are specialized devices called the V-Pads and the trained sing language interpreter designated to provide assistance. A V-pad is a touch screen videophone with which a deaf user can ask for the help of a trained interpreter for specialized teleconferencing service that enables the deaf user to conveniently converse with virtually anyone in the country for free. With the aid of the VRS, deaf or hearing-impaired individuals can now sign a message and get real-time response in seconds.
Spearheaded by TSND Chairman George Taylor, the only Filipino deaf student to graduate with a BS degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in DLSU Manila, VRS technology is set to defy disabilities related to hearing and speech. Throughout his lifetime of experience in getting involved with assessing the needs of hearing-impaired groups, Taylor now advocates for the widespread reach of the VRS technology in hopes of it leading to a multitude of prospects for the deaf community's benefit.
With the deaf having equal access to communication, comes the inevitable outcome of exposure to employment opportunities, voting registrations, educational grants and more. “Being able to communicate and be understood are human entitlements that must not be denied,” shares Bagong Henerasyon party-list Representative Bernaddette Herrera-Dy, the congresswoman spearheading the campaign for the passing of the bill entitled, "Video Relay Service - House of Bill No. 5670."
Such mandate, when passed, requires the government to provide their full-support by having an additional legal subcharge on all telecommunications and telephone subscriber's bills to fund the development and implementation of the VRS systems, just as a host of other international governments did.
Without this the individual progresses of our deaf comrades are severely hindered. Just imagine how it feels to be blanketed in silence, reality moving past you, with only sign language to express and nary a soul to assist. With that established, VRS is the deaf community's beacon of hope that aims to shed light in pursuance of equal opportunities for technology, communication, and media accessibility.