Welcome Rhonda Jeter to VDDHH!

  • Apr 1, 2019
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  • publicrelationsdept

Virginia Relay welcomes business manager Rhonda Jeter to the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) team!

Rhonda is joining VDDHH from the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) where she served as director of independent living. Her 15-year experience will be a huge asset to VDDHH, including her knowledge of program evaluation, developing federal and state reports, overseeing budgets and fiscal operations, and supervising administrative staff.

Rhonda has also worked as a certified vocational rehabilitation counselor for four years and as a counselor and peer mentor for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Radford University and a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. In her free time, she enjoys biking, golfing, and long walks.

Welcome Karen Brimm to VDDHH!

  • Mar 29, 2019
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  • publicrelationsdept

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) is pleased to welcome Karen Brimm to the team as community services manager!

Karen Brimm, M.A., RID Ed:K-12, earned associates degrees in ASL-Deaf Studies and ASL-English Interpretation from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, where she is now an adjunct instructor. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Interpreter Training from Troy University, and was a member of the inaugural cohort earning a Master of Interpreting Studies and Communication Equity from St. Catherine University.

Her professional experience includes interpreting and as a support service provider (SSP), office management, and teaching. She serves on boards for the Virginia Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (VRID) and the Virginia Association of the Deafblind and is a long-time special events volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond.

Recently, Karen became a mentor through the Virginia Department of Education’s Educational Interpreter Grant. Along with administering the VADB Facebook page, Karen also curates her “Gish Girl” page where she collects information on interpreting, ASL, education, and encourages the thirst for knowledge. In her spare time, she attempts to finish existing quilting projects before starting new ones.

Virginia Relay and the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) have a mission to promote equal telecommunication access for individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind, or have difficulty speaking. To help ensure everyone is able to make and receive telephone calls, the Commonwealth offers two programs that provide specialized telecommunication equipment to qualified applicants.

Technology Assistance Program (TAP)

The Technology Assistance Program (TAP) is available to Virginia residents who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or have difficulty speaking, meet eligibility requirements, and/or are veterans of our military. The program provides specialized telecommunication equipment on a loan-to-own basis, including TTYs, Captioned Telephones, amplified telephones, signalers for the phone and door, and more.

To learn more about how you can qualify for TAP, visit varelay.org/tap.htm or call 1-800-552-7917.

iCanConnect

A service of the Federal Communication Commission and administered by VDDHH, the iCanConnect program offers a variety of equipment options for those who are living with both hearing and vision loss. Including tablets, large-button telephones, Braille keyboards, telephone signalers, and more, these equipment options are available to those who meet the eligibility requirements.

To learn more about how you can qualify for the iCanConnect Program, visit iCanConnect.org/Virginia or call 804-371-3140.

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Last year, Longwood University’s Speech, Hearing, and Learning Services (SHLS) introduced the Southside Hearing Loss Support Group for individuals living with hearing loss and their families.

The meetings are led by graduate students from the Longwood University Communication Science and Disorders graduate program, with the support of Dr. Mani Aguilar, the SHLS audiologist, and Dr. Lissa Power-deFur, the SHLS Program Director. At each meeting, the students and doctors present a topic chosen by the meeting participants.

In previous meetings, the topics have included “Strategies to Improve Communication with a Person Who Has Hearing Loss,” “What to Expect from Your Hearing Aids,” and “New Hearing Aid Technologies and Solutions.” Participants are also offered hearing aid checks prior to the meeting.

Meetings will be held on the fourth Friday of each month from January to April.

Meetings are free to attend and are held at 315 West Third Street in Farmville from 12:30-2:00 p.m. For more information, visit longwood.edu/shls or call 434-395-2972.

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Caption Your Conference Call with RCC

  • Dec 11, 2018
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  • publicrelationsdept

If you have difficulty hearing what’s said during conference calls, Remote Conference Captioning (RCC) is available to provide captions of conversations featuring multiple speakers on one call. Using Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) service to convert speech to text as it is spoken, RCC delivers word-for-word captions over the Internet to the RCC user, while others listen on the telephone.

“I found, personally, that RCC is the best option available for conference calls and even webinars,” says Gary Talley, community services manager for the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH). “I am able to see both the shared screen from the webinar leader and the captioning. RCC is fast and accurate, enabling me to keep up with the discussion and participate in these meetings more effectively.”

To use RCC, you need access to a conference bridge and to an Internet-connected computer, tablet, or smartphone. Virginia Relay users are guaranteed access to RCC services if scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. RCC services may also be available for emergency situations with two-hour notice. To request RCC services, visit varelay.org/features.htm and click on “RCC Scheduling Request Form” under “How to Request RCC Services,” or contact Virginia RCC Customer Care at varelayrcc@hamiltonrelay.com or 877-339-2665 (Voice).

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Virginia Technology Assistance Program provides equipment for military Veterans living with hearing loss or difficulty speaking.

 As our nation prepares to honor the service of military members this Veteran’s Day (November 11), the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) and Virginia Relay would like to remind Virginia residents that Veterans who are living with hearing loss or difficulty speaking are automatically eligible to apply for specialized telecommunication equipment through Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP).

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss is the top service-related medical issue for military Veterans, with more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receiving disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus. For many of these Veterans, the ability to use a telephone is vital to living independently at home, or to working independently in the workplace. To ensure these individuals can place and receive telephone calls with confidence, in 2012 VDDHH and Virginia Relay announced that Virginia Veterans with hearing loss or difficulty speaking and documentation of Honorable Discharge would automatically qualify for TAP.

Equipment available through TAP include text telephones (TTY), amplified telephones, captioned telephones, Voice Carry Over (VCO) phones, ring signalers and more. Equipment is provided on a Loan-to-Own basis to Veterans in Virginia who meet the following qualifications:

  • A Veteran with hearing loss or difficulty speaking and proof of an Honorable Discharge (form DD-214)
  • A Veteran with hearing loss or difficulty speaking and documentation of a service-related disability rating from the U.S. Veterans Administration
  • A surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who was killed in the line of duty and has a hearing loss or difficulty speaking
  • An active member of the Virginia National Guard who has completed the required initial active-duty service

Beyond Veterans, other qualified TAP applicants include individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind or who have difficulty speaking. Applicants must also be Virginia residents and meet income eligibility requirements that are based on household income and family size. There are no age restrictions; however applications from minors must be co-signed by a parent or legal guardian.

To learn more about TAP, please contact VDDHH at 1-800-552-7917 or visit vddhh.org.

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Welcome our Newest VRAC Members!

  • Nov 1, 2018
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  • publicrelationsdept

We are pleased to welcome three new members to the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC)!

L. Karen Darner, joining as a representative for the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV), was a speech/language pathologist and hearing clinician for Arlington Public Schools from 1971-2008. She also served in the Virginia House of Delegates for 13 years, focusing on education, social justice, the environment, and Dreamers. During her more than 30 years of civic activism, she was president of the Arlington Education Association, chaired the League of Women Voters and the Arlington Committee of 100, and as a board member and volunteer of numerous civic and nonprofit organizations. In 2009, Karen was the recipient of the Arlington Community Foundation’s Spirit of Community Award and currently sits on their Board of Trustees.

Christine Ross, our new Video Relay Service representative, is a qualified rehabilitation counselor with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). As a Deaf person, Christine is passionate about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community’s unique and various employment needs. With DARS, Christine provides a wide range of programs and services to assist clients who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to prepare for, secure, retain, or regain employment.

Teresa Ritzert, our new representative for Captioned Telephone Service users, had to adapt to a life with hearing loss after she began to lose her hearing in her mid-twenties. Now fully Deaf, Teresa is an advocate for individuals who experience hearing loss later in life. She has an undergraduate degree in dramatic arts and a master’s degree in legal studies. Teresa began her career as a high school drama teacher before becoming a paralegal in Washington, D.C. at top international law firms. When she moved to Virginia in 2006, she returned to her education roots as the director of education at Holy Comforter Church before she began working in the archives at the University of Virginia Law Library. She is currently training her dog as a service animal and is passionate about sharing the life-changing effects of Captioned Telephone Service with others.

We are looking forward to gaining insight and experience from our new members and thank them for joining VRAC! The Council still has an opening for an Internet Wireless Relay user. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Eric Raff at 804-404-9090 or eric.raff@vddhh.virginia.gov.

SallieMae Paulie with Virginia Relay outreach coordinator Eric Alvillar.

SallieMae Paulie with Virginia Relay outreach coordinator Eric Alvillar.

SallieMae Pauley of Richmond, Virginia has been selected as the recipient of the Hamilton Relay 2018 Deaf Community Leader Award for the state of Virginia. Her peers say she is committed to reform, equality, and civil rights within the community.

SallieMae began her active leadership roles attending the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB) and continued her education at Gallaudet University. This summer, she was inducted into the VSDB Hall of Fame in the Sport Category. She is also a member of both schools’ alumni associations – Virginia School for the Deaf Alumni Association and Black/African American Gallaudet University Alumni.

Most recently, she advocated for interpreters to volunteer for the inaugural Black Pride RVA event in July 2018. She also worked tirelessly to make sure interpreters were available for the informational meetings regarding schedule and policy changes held by the Greater Richmond Transit Company. In addition, SallieMae is an advocate for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) Virginia, which supports opportunities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to have access to language development by the time they reach kindergarten.

SallieMae with her peers during the LEAD K meeting.

The award was presented to SallieMae at the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) during a LEAD K meeting.

SallieMae volunteers her time to many organizations, including Parent Child Advocate Program, Kings Dominion Deaf/HOH Awareness day, DC Area Black Deaf Advocates, and Virginia Association of the Deaf.

We commend SallieMae for her advocacy and leadership and are proud to present her with the Hamilton Relay 2018 Deaf Community Leader Award for the state of Virginia.

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Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is seeking Virginia Relay users to join the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC)! VRAC needs new representatives to fill these vacancies:

  • Internet/Wireless Relay user
  • Video Relay Service (VRS) user

For more information about Virginia Relay visit www.varelay.org

Do you use these Relay features? Are you interested in serving on VRAC? To inquire about joining VRAC, please contact:

Eric Raff at 804-404-9090 or eric.raff@vddhh.virginia.gov

VRAC was established to focus on the statewide education and technical assistance activities of Virginia Relay. VRAC focuses on Virginia Relay’s consumers’ needs, to advise and make recommendations to VDDHH, and to share information to the consumers. VRAC is comprised of various relay users providing guidance in public relations, marketing, education, and outreach.

VRAC duties and responsibilities shall also include:

  • Ensuring through research and practical experience that Virginia Relay is meeting the needs of its users;
  • Collecting feedback from consumers to be shared with the Department, and the contractor(s);
  • Providing advice on meeting the requirements for functional equivalency required by federal law;
  • Assisting in the disseminating of information from VDDHH and the relay contractor(s) to consumers;
  • Providing access to consumers and other interested parties through meetings held in various regions of the Commonwealth as determined by the Advisory Council.
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Hamilton Relay Scholarship Presented to Aashi Agarwala

  • Jun 26, 2018
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  • publicrelationsdept

Hamilton Relay, Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone Service provider for the state of Virginia, has awarded a $500 college scholarship to Aashi Agarwala, a student of Henrico High School from Glen Allen, Virginia.

The Hamilton Relay Scholarship opportunity is available to high school seniors who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking. A recipient is selected within each of the states where Hamilton is the contracted service provider and is one of several ways the company gives back to the communities it serves.

“Hamilton takes pride in recognizing outstanding leadership and promoting education,” said Eric Alvillar, Virginia TRS Outreach Coordinator. “We are excited tohave the opportunity to contribute to furthering Aashi’s education and wish her success in reaching her personal and professional goals.”

Aashi was awarded the $500 Hamilton Relay Scholarship after completing the application process, including writing an essay under the topic of communication technology. Aashi plans to attend Virginia Tech this fall to study Mechanical Engineering.

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