New video relay service empowers people with hearing disabilities in Canada

Americas, September 28 2016

GATINEAU, QC: A new service is launching today in Canada to empower the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community with tools to communicate better and provide them with greater independence.

SRV Canada VRS enables Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who use American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to conduct calls via video relay service (VRS) with hearing people through a professional ASL or LSQ interpreter. It simulates, as closely as possible, a conversation between two hearing people.

SRV Canada VRS works as follows:

  • VRS calls are placed using a high-speed Internet connection through a computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • When a Deaf caller places a VRS call to a hearing person, an ASL or LSQ interpreter appears on the device’s screen.
  • The Deaf caller signs to the interpreter, who is fluent in ASL/English or LSQ/French.
  • The interpreter then speaks the message to the hearing recipient.
  • The hearing caller responds and the interpreter signs the message back to the Deaf person – relaying the conversation between the two callers.

Quick Facts

  • SRV Canada VRS is for Canadians who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and who use ASL or LSQ to make phone calls.
  • Based on current trends, there are as many as 20,000 Canadians who will use and benefit from the service. (CRTC estimate)
  • SRV Canada VRS is Internet-based, and customers must register to use the service. Customers must have a connected device capable of supporting video conferencing – a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac), tablet or smartphone (Android or iOS).
  • Registered customers will receive a 10-digit phone number associated with their account to make and receive calls.
  • SRV Canada VRS is a free service funded through the National Contribution Fund. However, some calls, like international calls, will require the customer to pay international calling rates.

“This is a historic day for Canada’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. This service is amazing. It is a tool for empowerment that will change people’s lives.” said Sue Decker, Executive Director and CEO, Canadian Administrator of VRS (CAV)

“The implementation of the Video Relay Service will have a concrete and positive impact on the lives of Canadians who are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired. The CRTC appreciates all the efforts put forth to ensure the success of this new service. This initiative illustrates strongly Canada’s vision for an inclusive society which values equality of opportunity.” said Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman of the CRTC

SRV Canada VRS will be available seven days a week, including holidays. To learn more about SRV Canada VRS and how it works, visit

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