A New Voice

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Having a conversation on the phone with a friend or family member may seem like a pretty easy task. But for people who are hearing impaired it can be quite complicated.

But a new service called video relay service is changing the way the deaf or those hard of hearing communicate.

If Georgeann or Paul Hoover wanted to call their son and daughter-in-law in Florida, normally they would have to use the TTY system, typing their conversation with a keyboard installed to their phone. But things might be changing soon thanks to a service called video relay.

The only thing needed is a camera for the top of the computer, access to the Internet and high-speed Internet service. Once the person logs on, they will be connected with an operator who is certified in sign language. The operator can watch the sign language from the deaf person and translate to the friend or family member on the line.

Georgeann and Paul say they are really excited about this service, especially if it means they can call their son and daughter-in law more often.

The service is free. The tab is picked up by the federal government. But you will have to pay between $40 and $60 for high-speed service on top of your regular phone service.

The Web site for that service is www.usavrs.com.