Tive will soon offer 2 telecommunication solutions: video relay service (VRS), and video remote interpreting (VRI). VRS is a free program regulated by the FCC and VRI is a fee-based service that satisfies the communication-related mandates of the ADA. VRS and VRI, as their names suggest, are video-based services;
Video Relay Service (VRS): VRS is a free subscriber-based service. Available 24 hours a day, it is described by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) as a service that enables deaf individuals “to make and receive telephone calls through a communications assistant (CA) who is a qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.” Using videophones, smart phones, or computers with video communication capabilities, the subscriber (deaf individual) calls the VRS provider who, through an interpreter, calls the hearing person on a standard phone and then relays the conversation between the two parties. Conversely, a hearing person wishing to call a subscriber simply dials the subscriber’s phone number, which is automatically routed to the VRS provider.
A VRS provider, by FCC regulation, cannot provide free interpreting services when all parties wishing to communicate are in the same room.
Video Remote Interpreting (VRI): VRI is a fee-based service. Unlike VRS, VRI is not a telephone service but rather a means for two or more individuals in the same room to access an interpreter remotely. VRI is an alternative to on-site interpreting (whereby the interpreter is physically in the room). It is not effective in all circumstances, and in some cases it can be counterproductive. The Department of Justice notes that VRI “...will not be effective if the person who is deaf or hard of hearing has difficulty seeing the screen (either because of vision loss or because he or she cannot be properly positioned to see the screen, because of an injury or other condition). In these circumstances, an on-site interpreter may be required.”
Telecommunication Services at a Glance
VRS: Interpreter, deaf person, and hearing person are all in different locations. The hearing person uses a standard telephone while the deaf individual uses a visual screen. Cost of the service: free.
VRI: Deaf and hearing person are in the same location while the interpreter is in another location. The interpreter is accessed via a visual screen. Cost of Service: fee-based.
Source: National Deaf Center https://www.nationaldeafcenter.org/sites/default/files/Telecommunications_%20VRS,%20VRI,%20and%20TRS.pdf