SALT LAKE CITY, UT: The Sorenson Communications, LLC, the company that revolutionized Video Relay Service (VRS) communication for people who are deaf, introduced Sorenson Bridge, the first videophone tree designed specifically for users of American Sign Language (ASL).
Sorenson Bridge and its patented technologies were created as a way for schools, agencies, businesses and organizations that serve people who are deaf to efficiently communicate in ASL, enhance the way they conduct business and strengthen the Deaf communities they serve. Sorenson works with these organizations to customize a phone tree menu for each organization’s unique needs.
Until the introduction of Sorenson Bridge, callers with hearing disabilities had to navigate audio phone trees through sign language interpreters, a time-consuming and often tedious process. Now, with Sorenson Bridge, callers see and choose from video menus shown in ASL. Through the use of a keypad, callers select the option of the intended call recipient or department. For example, a caller may choose tech support, a receptionist or the accounting department from the visual phone tree menu. As ASL is the native language for most people who are deaf, the visual phone tree is a welcome and empowering technology.
As a part of testing, Sorenson implemented Sorenson Bridge at the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD) and worked alongside ISD to customize a menu that would be convenient and intuitive for Deaf parents and vendors who called the school.
ISD superintendent and CEO David Geeslin says, “Sorenson is a dream partner when it comes to collaboration for the benefit of students. ISD parents and staff who have made a call through Sorenson Bridge have remarked they can sense the positive energy of our students and staff and the values of Sorenson in supporting our educational endeavor for our students.”
Geeslin adds, “When Sorenson offered ISD the Sorenson Bridge concept, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to bridge students’ current knowledge and experience with real world interactions. In the past, often a child would make a call and then face the new and strange experience of the Video Relay Service (VRS) interpreter explaining a phone tree. But now, with Sorenson Bridge at ISD, our students can call us and see the phone tree flowchart and learn to use it well. Eventually, they will make a call through Sorenson to a public company and see the phone tree flowchart. They will know what to do because they will have experienced this approach in ISD’s barrier-free environment.”
Stephanie Mathis, executive director of the Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf, says, “Sorenson Bridge is key to providing immediate services for victims and survivors in crisis and dangerous situations. The phone tree feature empowers Deaf victims to choose whom to contact and which information they need to obtain safety. Sorenson Bridge also empowers Sego Lily staff to provide comprehensive and accessible services to victims who are deaf of all ages in Utah. Sego Lily looks forward to continued partnership with Sorenson Communications in working together to keep our Deaf Community safe!”