It is my responsibility as a Deaf American Citizen to share this information based on facts, reliable sources and supporting evidence to you. Then you can get involved to make things right with FCC and our Deaf Canadian citizens.
It is time to act.
This is the first of five blog posts. The first one will give you a sense of what was happening at Canada right now. Many Deaf Canadians living in British Columbia and Alberta Providences are very upset. They learn that their Video Relay Services will be terminated tomorrow, Sunday, January 15, 2012.
Yesterday, I was on Facebook. I read a post that was shared by a Deaf Canadian, Norma-Jean Taylor, and she wrote:
Hey Deaf American friends,
Did you know that there are VRS call centres in Canada being running by Sorenson? These centres are for Americans to use, yes borderlessly, and these interpreters who are being employed by Sorenson are CANADIANS. We, the Deaf Canadians need your HELP!!! If you are a Sorenson user making a VRS call, ask your interpreter if she/he is a Canadian, please hang up to show your SUPPORT us, the Deaf Canadians in our cause with the CRTC through our rallies nationally. We are pushing CRTC to have our VRS a permanent instalment right here in Canada.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
p.s. please share this link to EVERYONE on your friends list!
Few minutes later, another post came up on my Facebook. It is a video done by Vincent Chauvet, a Deaf Canadian, and he is the President of Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CCSD) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
My eyes widened and naturally, I got really curious. I did some digging. I found so many things that shocked me.
I was so mad. I feel disgusted being an American in a capitalist country which value business more than customers. I want to take an action.
My next post will offer background information and the history about Sorenson Communications’ proliferating of VRS call centers all over United States, including Canada and Puerto Rico.
Does it really bother you all when we see FCC who collected VRS funds from American phone bills only to see part of the funds goes to pay Canadian interpreters using American funds.
I felt that FCC should restrict the use of VRS funds for American deaf customers who uses VRS with interpreters in United States. It does have major impact among deaf Canadians when they lose their interpreters and VRS services to Americans.
I think we should show these Candians our support by not using Sorenson VRS and shift our VRS usage to fully funded American VRS companies.
Now it is time to BOYCOTT SORENSON!
I think it shall be fair USA and Canadian to be help each other by supporting the vp sorenson because I have a friends who live other country. Why they reject the vp sorenson that can’t talk thru vp sorenson in near future. I am just hoping to be a peaceful in near future that we ,the hearing impaired people , need vp sorenson to have a good community people or communicate to on vp sorenson.
There are other VRS companies available. Sorenson is NOT the only one.
I’m not really sure why Deaf Americans are upset that Sorenson set up call centre’s in Canada? Firstly, the US didn’t have enough Interpreters to handle the need for VRS services. Prior there were long hold times for Deaf people. Now the hold time or wait for an Interpreter is very fast. Did Americans not want quality VRS service? As a VRS Interpreter here in Canada I feel Sorenson setting up call centres here in Canada will ensure that Deaf Canadians will get VRS service much faster. If it wasn’t for Sorenson there wouldn’t have even been a trial these past 18 months. The Deaf community would have had to wait longer for a trial. Someone would have had to develop software, equipment, hire staff and set up a company to provide the service. Very costly. I don’t disagree that once VRS is set up in Canada that Deaf Canadians should have a variety of options in terms of VRS providers. Yes, many Interpreters work for Sorenson. I would say 98% on a part time basis. This may be a few hours a week or month. Prior to Sorenson setting up I worked in a school district. I had minimal hours, and had a job in another field to supplement my income. I would say the majority of Interpreters were in the same situation. There wasn’t enough freelance work to go around. Since Sorenson set up Interpreters that left the field came back. VRS work is challenging but it has developed our Interpreting skills. We get a lot of receptive practise that we don’t get working in post secondary or freelance. We are becoming more confident in our skills. Sorenson is providing Pro-D so that we can become better Interpreters. Not just for Sorenson but out in the community. As Interpreters become more confident in their skills they are more willing to take other certifications. Such as medical interpreting, post secondary interpreting, etc. Interpreters that work at Sorenson still work in the community. Interpreters still volunteer in the community. Remember that about 97% of Interpreters are women, and we have families and young children. We try to juggle our family lives with the needs of the community. I also need to comment on Vincent’s Vlog. Firstly to say there were no Interpreters available for a medical appointment or a court appointment and then blame it on Sorenson is ridiculous. Here in BC you need specific Certifications to do both of those settings. Secondly, Vincent is very comfortable in his job. He has a salary…which Sorenson employees don’t have, benefits which Sorenson VRS Interpreters don’t get, and a pension which we also don’t get. Vincent is the Chair of the ASL & Deaf Studies Program at Vancouver Community College. A few years ago his program was going to be cut. It was deemed that there wasn’t a need for Interpreters in our community so they wanted to cut the program. Sorenson stepped up and worked hard to show there was a need for Interpreters. At that time Sorenson was hiring and they were able to show there was a need now and a need in the future. Interpreters in the community including Sorenson VRS Interpreters signed a petition to keep the program running. As well as to keep Vincent employed….this was even after he came to our West Coast Association of Visual Language Interpreters annual meeting and stated that he did not want Interpreters working at Sorenson, he did not care if we had work, he didn’t care if we couldn’t make a living. Even after that Interpreters still rallied behind him to help keep the Program at VCC running and in turn he still has his job. Sorenson has a policy that if an Interpreter is working at VRS and there is a medical emergency they can be excused or leave early from their shift. So as you see Sorenson VRS Interpreters are not that bad after all. The Deaf community has to remember Interpreters have rights too. We have the right to earn a living, to work where we choose, and a right to have time with our families. We are not available 24/7. If Sorenson were to shut down their call centres do you think Interpreters will stick around?? Many will leave the field in frustration! Many will have to look for a second or third job in another field to support their families! Will we be any more available to the Deaf Community? Will we develop our Interpreting skills when we are working in a different field to supplement our incomes? I guarantee if Sorenson call centres close in Canada many Interpreters will leave the field. I feel if you work with Sorenson and the Interpreting community you’ll get a lot further in your cause. I’m sure we’ll have permanent VRS much sooner. I know the Deaf community is angry about losing your VRS service. If someone took my cell phone away after having it I’d be really upset too. We need to work together!!
VRS Interpreter Too
You may want to do a little more research. Some of your information is incomplete, therefore you’re only telling a one sided view. As well some of your information is inaccurate. Just to make you aware, we do not work for Sorenson Communications Inc. We work for SORENSON COMMUNICATIONS OF CANADA. Yes, that is a seperate company.
Any business in America is allowed to run their business anywhere in the world.
This is very common. It’s called outsourcing.
Many companies in America have customer services call center in other countries.
While I do not like the idea of making a call and speaking with customer service from Indonesia or other countries because of their accent. It is what it is. Very common practice by many American companies.
I think American companies should keep their workforce here in America.
However, this is not illegal and is allowed.
I never used SorensonVRS since day one! For those of you use the SorensonVRS, shame on yourself!
For you (Amy), you talk talk too much! You have Sorenson equipment — Get rid of it!
Chill down. I divorced Sorenson as of November 2011. I no longer have Sorenson products at home. I talk too much? Why do you take time to leave a comment after reading my blog? Oh, you just want to start the flame war. Tada for now.
I am a former American VI with canadian deaf family. For the record, I love VRS services, but i hate what its done to our prifession.
Dont”t drink the cool aid! VRS companies are changing the landscape of the interpreting industry. Ultimately best practices are being driven by profit and the all mighty VRS minutes. It is a fact that that VRS companies are engaged in dirty business on many levels. The competition is cut throat amongst providers which further damages the reputation of the industry. Deaf people have suffered on many levels as well. Not only have they lost access to community interpreters they have also seen the quality of VRS interpreters go down hill. VRS companies are watering down the product with cheaper less qualified interpreters. The more qualified the interpreter the less profit VRS companies make. The shortage of interpreters and long wait times is a convienent excuse to undermine the integrity of the interpreting profession for the sake of profit. Don’t believe the charade that they care about Deaf people! Deaf people are dollar signs and only want your VRS minutes. Don’t drink the kool
Amy, why don’t you work for FCC or become a professional watchdog group founder to chase Sorenson and other companies that make you mad? Why do this only from a blog? Also I want to note that you spend much of your time as a blogger to cast companies in bad light. I would understand if you spend time praising companies but not using a blog to vent your feelings. I understand it is your blog to do with as you please and respect that. I haven’t checked your blog for weeks and just decided to look up your blog, and realized it is one issue after another. You just seem an angry, disillusioned person towards big companies. I don’t read all of your blog entries because it is negative toned. I know you may say something like, why read my blog if you feel that way. It is just becoming too predictable. For instance my past comments on the other anti sorenson topics my comments were becoming predictable. I realized that and shut down.
John C: I appreciate your comment. As I believe in free speech, there are anti-organizations for everything you can think of; anti-Apple, anti-PETA, anti-Greenpeace, etc.
However I do believe that this negative dialogue is unhealthy for the deaf community which is evident on the Canada VRS Rally Facebook page in which Amy posted links that had little constructive value to help move Canadians toward positive thinking and collaboration for the future of the deaf community.
I like to think for every negative thought, is to frame it in a positive direction. Ie. How can I address the underlying thought that provokes one to act upon it by posting comments void of substance, but laced with emotion.
I am confused. What is with the VRS Service in Canada? Since the 75 cents Universal Access surcharge on every phone, which is administered by the FCC and pays for the VRS in the U.S. only, this fund does not pay for the VRS in Canada. And who pays for the VRS in Canada?
Amy, what makes you angry at Sorenson Communication? Are you still? Negative comments about Sorenson that is disgusted, what did they do to you? Did they hurt you? Smile, what is wrong with Sorenson’s big heart they had given to all deaf people, hire deaf trainers and deaf installers, deaf technicans, deaf supporters, hired interpreters,provide devices that do not cost everyone? Jesus gives everyone his love, heal people from blind, cripple, diseases, and provided hungry people bread and fishes, and etc at no cost then he is abused by jealous people. Same concept! Everyone know that Purple and ZVRS abuse Sorenson by using their devices…how by porting away and closed phone numbers that own and license by Sorenson to gain their profit that are considered as thief. I purchased ZVRS myself but their quality was not that excellent and no one would come to install or check that Sorenson would. Sorenson was first that want all Deaf people to have communication access then why Sorenson is being blamed and abused by some thoughtless and selfish deaf people….jealous of Sorenson for their accomplishment, obviously of course!! If I buy you a dinner at a finest restaurant, then what happened later, my back would be stabbed. “that” ZVRS, Sorenson, Purple, and other VRS should shake their hands and their Deaf friendly should be shown. Good Luck and hope that helps you to change from negative thinking to postive thinking.