Verizon's High-Speed Video Offers New Opportunities for Deaf Customers
Verizon customers who are deaf or hard of hearing and live in Delaware, New Jersey or Pennsylvania can now use American Sign Language (ASL) and either a videophone or Web camera to communicate directly with the company about service-related issues. The addition of the three states is the latest expansion of this customer service support, which the Verizon Center for Customers with Disabilities first made available in 2007 in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The company subsequently extended the support service to Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
By using a videophone or Web camera connected to a computer and a high-speed Internet connection, deaf or hard-of-hearing customers in these states can communicate one-on-one with a representative in the Verizon center who is proficient in using American Sign Language. The representative can handle orders, change services or answer questions. Videophones usually consist of a set-top box with a screen and a built-in camera connected to a broadband router. A Web camera is supported by a computer and appropriate software. Either equipment option requires a high-speed Internet connection to receive good picture quality.
"We offer this level of service so our customers who are deaf or hard of hearing can communicate with us directly without the need for an interpreter or a relay service," said Linda Mahoney, manager of Verizon's Center for Customers with Disabilities. "Verizon offers broadband connections such as Verizon High Speed Internet or FiOS Internet -- and our fast Internet connections can really improve picture quality on any videophone or Web camera."
"Due to the widespread availability and affordability of broadband, more and more deaf or hard-of-hearing consumers use a videophone or Web camera to communicate," said Mahoney. "We believe this option gives these customers a simpler, more user-friendly way to directly interact with Verizon for their telecommunications or entertainment needs."
ASL is a unique language that incorporates hand gestures and facial expressions, and provides a more expressive and fulfilling telecommunications experience than either TTY (teletype) equipment or traditional relay services.
The Verizon Center for Customers with Disabilities, which is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year, provides customer support to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind, or have vision, mobility, speech or cognitive disabilities.