Phoenix Sky Harbor Adds Video Relay Service (VRS) to Assist Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech-Challenged Travelers
PHOENIX – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, along with the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) and the Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues, demonstrated the use of the newly installed video relay service (VRS) tablets during International Week of the Deaf on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in Terminal 4.
The newly installed tablets with video relay service (VRS) allow Deaf and hard of hearing as well as speech-challenged travelers who use American Sign Language to communicate via video call with an interpreter service.
Five tablets are already installed in Terminal 4 pre and post-security and an additional five tablets will be installed throughout the Airport and Rental Car Center by the end of 2019. The tablets have Purple’s P3, Sorenson’s ntouch and CaptionCall as well as Convo apps that individuals with subscriptions can use to log into their accounts and video call an interpreter to receive assistance with their travel or communication needs.
“The Commission has been pleased to partner in this effort as a result of our outreach and education and advocacy services,” said Carmen Green, deputy director of the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. “The ability to communicate with Sky Harbor employees, friends, family and colleagues once travelers arrive to Phoenix Sky Harbor is a major benefit in improving the traveling experience as it reaches far beyond the airport to expand access to our entire city and state!”
Video relay service is the video equivalent to the traditional telecommunications relay service (TRS) in which users type on a TeleTYpe (TTY) keyboard and the relay operator speaks the message to the recipient. Travelers can also make direct point to point video calls without the need of VRS.
The tablet with video relay service initiative came after the National Association of the Deaf hosted a convention in Phoenix in 2016. This service was offered during the convention and it sparked an idea to offer it permanently at America’s Friendliest Airport®. Phoenix Sky Harbor and the ACDHH collaborated to provide video relay service at the Airport in an effort to be more customer friendly and to support The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
Phoenix Sky Harbor is training more than 400 volunteer Navigators and Guest Services Representatives to use the video relay service technology so that they can assist Deaf and hard of hearing as well as speech-challenged travelers.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, has an annual economic impact of more than $38 billion. Every day approximately 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart at Sky Harbor. PHX Sky Harbor is funded with Airport revenue. No tax dollars are used to support the Airport.