By DLA Aviation Public Affairs
Published: April 19, 2011
RICHMOND – Two years ago, DLA Aviation began the process of upgrading all of its deaf and hearing-impaired employees from the old and obsolete telephone typewriter, or TTY communications device to the more technically advanced videophones.
Recently, the last three DLA Aviation deaf employees received their videophones, completing the issue of the phones to all who need them right now.
“Equal Employment Opportunity pushed for the videophones here, but it took two years before the other installations got them,” said Ellen Trimble, DLA Aviation sign language interpreter and EEO counselor.
Because of security and band-width issues, Cynthia White, administrative assistant at DLA Aviation, Ogden, Utah; Kerry Duvall, procurement technician at DLA Aviation, Huntsville, Ala.; and Virginia Corless, DLA Aviation, Oklahoma City, Okla., were the last to get their videophones.
“There were firewall issues, the cities didn’t have the capabilities to support the phones,” Trimble said.
“I’m so glad that I’m able to communicate,” White said. “It’s taken such a long time for us to be equal to hearing people. I can now communicate in my own language – American Sign Language. We feel equal to hearing people.”
Duvall said that sometimes the picture freezes and her internet connections aren’t always good, but overall she finds the phone useful in developing relationships with hearing co-workers.
“Years ago we used the TTY’s here and they were 200 pounds,” said Joyce Noel, a lead product data specialist for DLA Aviation in Richmond. “We had to walk to another bay just to make a phone call. Later the [TTYs] got smaller. The videophones are just wonderful,” Noel said.
The videophone works by allowing the deaf person to call anyone they chose, hearing or non-hearing. When they call a hearing person, an interpreter appears on the phone’s videoscreen to interpret the call. When they call another non-hearing person, both can see each other on the screen and speak to each other in American Sign Language.
“The videophones update the employees with technology,” said Cathy Hobson, DLA Aviation disabilities program manager. “They were using TTY which was so outdated and they still couldn’t communicate with people who didn’t have TTY,” she said. Hobson added that they couldn’t use things like Skype [Peer-to-peer web videochat] because of security issues and they would still not be able to communicate through a sign language interpreter to a hearing person.
“A lot of hearing employees were afraid to call a deaf person back if they got called by one and now they’re not,” Trimble said. “This is bringing the non-hearing people up to the place technology-wise that they should be,” she said.
– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax (4/19/11)