Since the conception of videophones in the Deaf Community, VRS users have always announced calls for their clients. “Announcing” calls is when the VRS interpreters let the person on the other side of the line that the person who is calling them is deaf and that they are using VRS services to make their phone calls. The purpose of this “policy” is that companies are informed that the client who is deaf knows that the voice behind the phone call is a service.

Yet, some VRS companies are starting to veer away from announcing calls on the behalf of their clients. In fact, some are starting to believe that it is better for their clients to advocate for themselves and decide if they want to announce their own calls.

The concept for deaf clients to now decide if they want to announce themselves or not has started to confuse many clients who were used to the VRS companies to automatically announce for them. Yet, rather, most of these clients were surprised when VRS interpreters did not announce for them as well as the notion that VRS companies failed to inform their clients to their new policy that they were not going to announce their calls anymore. There were no notification. No kinds of “change of policy” that their VRS companies were no longer going to announce their phones calls for them.

Yet, that’s not only the only problem and issue, since VRS companies are no longer announcing their phone calls, if you are a male and you’re using a female VRS interpreter, you are more than likely to vetted for fraud and/or scam. In the past, VRS companies would announce their call for that exact purpose…to let companies know that they are calling on behalf of their clients and that they don’t need to elevate the threat that the phone call is someone who they are actually not.

Should call be announced at all?

VRS companies are known to adhere to strict policies when it comes between what you can and cannot do during a phone call with a client. VRS companies do allow their VRS interpreters to use their “policies” to inform their clients of what they can or cannot do such as not officially announcing a call.

Currently, VRS companies such as Purple Relay, Sorenson, and ZVRS do have options to announce their calls, however, Convo Relay recently as of last year ended the practice of announcing the calls for their clients.

Purple calls it “Announce Relay”. Sorenson calls theirs’ “VRS Announce” . Convo does not have a name for it, instead, they believe that deaf clients “own” it and they should decided for themselves to let VRS interpreters know if they wish to announce their phones calls or not. Yet, Convo Relay interpreters do not inform their clients that they do not announce for them and does not let clients know that they are suppose to self announce for themselves.

Many VRS companies do encourage their clients to decide for themselves if they want to announce their own calls for themselves or not.

Should you announce your call if you’re a female and your VRS interpreter is male? Should you announce if you’re transgender and you’re unsure if you want to use a female voice?

These are difficult choices. For some people, if you’re calling a bank and you’re a female, but your VRS interpreter is male, do you announce your phone call? If you don’t, then you are more than likely to be suspected of fraud and banks will protect themselves during that phone call and flag your account.

What if a VRS interpreter refuses to “announce” your calls for you? Do you think that’s fair and/or appropriate?

Granted, while most companies do offer the choice for their clients to announce their calls for them, it is quite possible that trend will change soon and VRS companies will let their clients self-advocate for themselves as ask for announcing their phones for them or not.

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Thomsen Young

Founder of SG