IN THE NEWS ~ MP Julian calls for immediate telecom access for deaf Canadians

Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian was among those who gathered recently to raise awareness of a need for immediate telecommunications access for deaf Canadians.

Julian, who had previously served as executive director of the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, spoke to the crowd in downtown Vancouver in sign language.

Speakers called for provision of a permanent video relay service (VRS) in Canada that provides services in spoken English and French, and signed languages, American Sign Language and Langue des Signes Québécoise.

Such a system would provide immediate communication, unlike the current TTY Relay Services in which messages are spoken to an operator, then typed to a deaf person on the other end.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been looking into VRS as an option since 2006. The BC Video Relay Services Committee is calling for approval of such a system by the end of this year.

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