The next meeting of the Virginia Relay Advisory Council (VRAC) will be held Thursday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (8004 Franklin Farms Drive) in Henrico. These meetings are open to the public. VRAC members represent a cross-section of relay users and serve as a consumer-based focus group for development and testing of new relay features and services. To learn more about VRAC, please visit: https://www.varelay.org/council.htm.

Nominations Due by Monday, April 3

Paul Stuessy with Virginia 2016 Better Hearing and Speech Month award recipient Brenda Eggleston

Hamilton Relay, the contracted Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider of Virginia Relay, is seeking candidates for the 2017 Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award. We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking and who demonstrate strong leadership, volunteerism and involvement within his/her community. The award will be presented during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May.

If there is someone you wish to nominate, please visit www.HamiltonRelay.com to complete a brief questionnaire telling us about your nominee’s accomplishments. You may submit the questionnaire online or download and complete the form. Please send your nominations to Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at frazelle.hampton@hamiltonrelay.com, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at paul.stuessy@hamiltonrelay.com, by Monday, April 3.

Celebrating community leaders during Better Hearing and Speech Month is something we look forward to each year. We are eager to learn more about the deserving community leaders in your community; nominate someone you know today!

The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is looking to hire a Technology Assistance Program Specialist Coordinator. The position administers contracts providing Technology Assistance Program (TAP) services throughout Virginia, provides program support to the TAP service delivery system, serves as a TAP liaison to Virginia stakeholders and provide back up support to the front desk.

Please click here to view the full job posting and instructions for applying.

Virginia's 2016 Hamilton Relay Scholarship recipient, Taylor Thomas-Harris

As the Telecommunications Relay and Captioned Telephone service provider for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Hamilton Relay acknowledges that opportunities for higher education affect the future of Virginia’s high school students.

We are pleased to once again extend the Hamilton Relay Scholarship opportunity to graduating high school students in Virginia who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or have difficulty speaking to assist in their goals of continuing their education. One $500 scholarship will be awarded in each of the states where Hamilton Relay is the contracted telecommunications relay and/or captioned telephone service provider.

To be eligible for the 2017 Hamilton Relay Scholarship Program in Virginia, students must:

  1. Be a graduating high school student who is deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind or has difficulty speaking;
  2. Be a resident of Virginia;
  3. Complete and submit an application, a response to the application’s essay question and a letter of recommendation.

If you know a deserving student who meets the eligibility requirements for this scholarship opportunity, please encourage them to submit an application. Applications are available online at www.HamiltonRelay.com and must be postmarked by March 1, 2017 to be considered eligible for selection. For more information, please contact Frazelle Hampton, Virginia Relay Captioned Telephone outreach coordinator, at frazelle.hampton@hamiltonrelay.com, or Paul Stuessy, Virginia Relay TRS outreach coordinator, at paul.stuessy@hamiltonrelay.com.

Happy Retirement, Arva!

  • Dec 1, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

When Arva Priola, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator of the disAbility Resource Center, lost her hearing in 1989, she retired from teaching and began researching ways to help herself through this difficult time. She discovered the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) and within a month she had started a local chapter, the Hearing Loss Association of Rappahannock. It was here that she met Faith Smith, who offered her a job at the disAbility Resource Center doing outreach for Virginia Relay’s Telecommunications Assistance Program (TAP), helping people obtain assistive telecommunications equipment throughout Virginia. Just when she thought her life was over, she realized it had just begun.

Arva, who is retiring at the end of 2016, has accomplished much in her 20-year career, receiving multiple awards and honors for her work and advocacy. But of all her achievements, three stand out. First, is the Visor Alert Program, which protects people with hearing loss during traffic stops by enabling communication with law enforcement. Virginia adopted the program statewide after running a pilot program in 2002. Second, are the guidelines for communication access in hospitals, which were established by House Bill 1956, and passed by the general assembly and signed by the governor in 2015. Third, is establishing the Virginia Relay Advisory Council alongside Cheryl Heppner.

“Virginia Relay and TAP keep us connected to the world and prevent us from becoming isolated,” says Arva. “And I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with them to help touch so many lives.”

And while it was a difficult decision to retire, she knows that this is not the end, but rather another new beginning. So how does she plan to spend her retirement? First on her list is visiting her new grandson, Landon, in Washington, and secondly to breed her French bull dogs who she loves very much. We at Virginia Relay would like to wish her all the best and let her know that she always has a home here.

SIT Hosts Deaf Awareness Week Open House

  • Oct 15, 2016
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  • publicrelationsdept

This September during Deaf Awareness Week, the Statewide Interagency Team (SIT) of Virginia hosted an open house at the VDDHH and Virginia Department for Aging and
Rehabilitative Services (DARS) offices in Richmond. Guests watched demonstrations of the latest assistive communications technologies, and met representatives from local agencies and organizations dedicated to meeting the needs of Virginians who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and DeafBlind.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

The Statewide Interagency Team of Virginia

Elizabeth Spiers of the Virginia DBVI promoting the iCanConnect program for people who are DeafBlind.

Eric Raff, VDDHH Deputy Director with Linda Thornton and Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI).

Our team of interpreters.

Ron Lanier, VDDHH Director, with Paige Berry of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

Creed Leffler

At Virginia Relay, we strive to make telecommunications more accessible, not just for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, but for everyone who has difficulty making telephone calls. We also offer specialized Relay services – including Hearing Carry-Over and Speech-to-Speech – for individuals who have difficulty speaking on the phone.

Creed Leffler lives in Norfolk and works as a disability advocate. Creed’s speech is limited due to cerebral palsy, and he often uses Virginia Relay Speech-to-Speech (STS) service when he makes telephone calls. STS is specifically designed for people with mild to moderate speech difficulty who can hear clearly over the phone.

“My speech changes day by day, so some days I have to use STS more than others,” he says. During an STS call, a specially trained Virginia Relay Communications Assistant (CA) listens to everything Creed says, and repeats it to the other party as needed. When the other person responds, Creed listens directly to what is said.

Creed finds STS most useful to him when he is sharing important information over the phone that he wants written down.

“STS is particularly good when I’m ordering food, because I can give the CA my order before I call the restaurant. That way I don’t have to worry about the person at the restaurant, who may be busy and doesn’t know me, hanging up on me,” he says.

STS users have a number of options to customize their calls to their personal preference. They can choose to communicate with their own voice, voice synthesizer, voice enhancer or other assistive voice device. Users can also choose to have their voice muted to the other party (STS with Privacy), or request that the CA assist only when needed. Virginia Relay also offers STS for Spanish speakers, and Visually Assisted STS, which allows the CA to see the user through a Skype™ connection.

Creed says that it’s important to know that people who use STS are just like everyone else.

“We’re just normal people that need a little bit more help,” he says.

To learn more about STS from Virginia Relay, contact Virginia Relay Customer Care at 1-866-894-4116 (voice) or 1-866-246-9300 (TTY) or visit varelay.org.

Skype™ is a trademark of Skype. Virginia Relay and Hamilton Relay are not affiliated, sponsored, authorized or otherwise associated with the Skype group of companies.

Designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and can speak for themselves, CapTel works like any other telephone – with one important difference. Using the latest in voice recognition software, the CapTel phone displays every word the other person says. So you can listen to what is being said while reading word-for-word captions of your conversation on the CapTel phone’s display screen.

Best of all, the captioned telephone service is free*!

CapTel phones are available in a variety of models to best meet your needs. All models feature a brightly-lit display screen for captions with adjustable font sizes and colors. All models also include indicator lights, speed dial, answering machine, and Caller ID.

Use this helpful guide to determine which CapTel phone is right for you:

CapTel® 840
Requires analog telephone service

Choose the CapTel 840 if:

  • You have difficulty hearing over the phone, but can speak for yourself.
  • You do not have Internet access.
  • You have analog telephone service. If you are not aware of what telephone service you have, please contact your telephone service provider.
  • You prefer traditional buttons when navigating on-screen menus.
  • You like the size and feel of a traditional home phone.

CapTel® 840i
Connects to both your telephone service and Internet service

Choose the CapTel 840i if:

  • You have difficulty hearing over the phone, but can speak for yourself.
  • You have both telephone service and high-speed Internet access (cable, DSL, Ethernet or WiFi).
  • You prefer traditional buttons when navigating on-screen menus.
  • You like the size and feel of a traditional home phone.

CapTel® 880i
Designed for people with low vision or who have difficulty reading standard-sized captions

Choose the CapTel 880i if:

  • You have difficulty hearing over the phone, but can speak for yourself.
  • You have low-vision or difficulty reading standard-sized captions.
  • You have both telephone service and high-speed Internet access (cable, DSL, Ethernet or WiFi).
  • You prefer traditional buttons when navigating on-screen menus.
  • You like the size and feel of a traditional home phone.

CapTel® 2400i
Designed for people who are comfortable with touch-screen technology

Choose the CapTel 2400i if:

  • You have difficulty hearing over the phone, but can speak for yourself.
  • You have both telephone service and high-speed Internet access (cable, DSL, Ethernet or WiFi).
  • You prefer touch-screen navigation for on-screen menus.
  • You prefer BlueTooth connectivity or Speakerphone capability.
  • You like the size and feel of a contemporary phone.

All CapTel phone models are available to Virginia residents for a special rate of just $75. No-cost and reduced-price CapTel phones are also available to those who qualify through the Technology Assistance Program (TAP), administered by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH).

For more information, or to obtain your CapTel phone, please call VDDHH at 1-800-552-7917 (V/TTY).

CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.

*Long distance charges may apply.

Remote Conference Captioning Now Available In Virginia

  • May 15, 2016
  • |
  • publicrelationsdept

If you have difficulty hearing what’s said during conference calls, there is a new service available in Virginia to help you never miss a word of an important conversation again: Remote Conference Captioning (RCC).

RCC allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have a clearer understanding of conversations and participate in conference calls in a more effective manner. RCC delivers word-for-word captions over the Internet, using Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) service to convert speech to text as it is spoken.

To use RCC, you need access to a conference bridge to allow the certified captionist to listen to the audio portion of the call. You also need access to an Internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone in order to view the captions. You do not need to download any software, only click a link to view the captions in your web browser. Captions show up just seconds after someone has spoken, allowing for seamless conversations.

RCC is already getting great reviews from Virginia Relay users. Nancy Anderson, who works for the Training and Technical Assistance Center at George Mason University, is using RCC to improve her conference calls at work, and is thrilled with the results.

“As a hard of hearing business person, I have been wanting a free conference captioning service for years now,” she says. “I have used the Virginia Relay RCC service twice now and I love it! It was so easy to request it and then the relay operators did a wonderful job capturing everything people on my conference call were saying. I plan to use it again and again!”

Betti Thompson, executive director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Center, agrees.

“My experience with RCC is incredible. It’s like having your own CART on the computer screen or tablet. It keeps up to speed and is very accurate. I’m very excited for the RCC feature and I can’t wait to use it again during my next conference call,” she says.

Available to Virginia residents who are deaf or hard of hearing, RCC is an optional relay service that is funded and provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia’s contracted service provider, Hamilton Relay, also provides RCC in one other of its contracted states, Montana. It is important to note that these services are to be used through a teleconference call and is not a replacement for remote CART.

To request RCC services for your next conference call, simply complete a RCC Scheduling Request Form at www.hamiltonrelay.com/rcc, or call Virginia RCC Customer Care at 1-877-339-2665 (Voice). Virginia Relay users are guaranteed access to RCC services if scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. RCC services can be scheduled within a two-hour notice for emergency situations but are not guaranteed.

Take advantage of Remote Conference Captioning for your next conference call. To learn more, please contact Virginia RCC Customer Care at 1-877-339-2665 (Voice) or varelaycc@hamiltonrelay.com.

The Speech, Language, and Hearing Services staff at Longwood University.

Virginia Relay and the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) are proud to announce a new partnership with the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Services at Longwood University in Farmville. Under the partnership, Longwood University is now an official outreach site for Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP), which provides no-cost adaptive telecommunication equipment to qualified applicants who are deaf, hard of hearing, Deafblind or who have difficulty speaking.

As an outreach site, members of the local community are now able to visit Longwood University to apply for equipment through TAP. Applicants are also evaluated by graduate students of the university’s Communications Sciences and Disorders program to ensure they receive the technology that is best suited to meet their needs. Students are supervised by the university’s faculty and clinical supervisors, who are nationally-certified and Commonwealth of Virginia-licensed audiology professionals.

Since the program was first introduced last summer, more than 15 people have applied for and/or been evaluated for equipment at Longwood University. The school currently has 14 different pieces of telecommunications equipment on site for demonstration by both students and TAP applicants.

“This is the first time VDDHH has partnered with an audiology department within a state university to expand our TAP outreach efforts, and we are already thrilled with the results,” said Ron Lanier, VDDHH Director. “Now that the talented students and staff at Longwood University are part of our outreach team, we are better able to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in Farmville and the surrounding areas.”

“Because of this partnership, the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in this region will have access to the latest technologies so they can receive the best assistive equipment for them,” said Mani Aguilar, Au.D., CCC-A, Clinical Audiologist – Communications Sciences and Disorders; Speech, Language, and Hearing Services; Longwood University. “Working with VDDHH is also a boon for our Communications Sciences and Disorders students who will be familiar with the latest telecommunications technologies available for people who are unable to use a telephone.”

To learn more about TAP, please visit www.varelay.org. Residents of the Farmville area who would like assistance applying for equipment through TAP may contact Dr. Mani Aguilar at the Longwood Speech, Hearing, and Learning Services, 434-395-2341 or aguilarmc@longwood.edu.