Sorenson opens large call center

By Paul Beebe, The Salt Lake Tribune Staff, October 1, 2008

Sorenson Communications Inc. has moved into a new call-relay center in Price and is on target to have more than 100 employees working by the end of the year.

The center opened in August after being temporarily housed in the former Utah Division of Wildlife Services building in Price. The new building was showcased to the public Wednesday.

The center uses telephones and the Internet to transmit conversations between hearing-impaired callers and those with normal hearing.

A deaf or hard-of-hearing person sends text messages from a computer or mobile device via the Internet to a Sorenson employee at the center. The employee telephones the hearing person and reads the message.

The hearing person replies orally to the employee, who types the message and relays it electronically to the hearing-impaired party's computer or wireless phone.

"It's very useful to me, especially when I'm on the road because I do travel a lot," said Deb Moore, who lives in Maryland and works in the career center of Gallaudet University, the Washington, D.C., school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

"It's just like a natural conversation with a hearing person, going back and forth."

The free service is funded with appropriations from the Telecommunications Relay Services fund administered by the Federal Communications Commission. Money comes from surcharges on consumer telephone bills, Sorenson Communications CEO Pat Nola said.

The Price center opened this summer with about 70 employees and has grown to 80, with about 60 percent working full-time.

Sorenson's older call center at its Salt Lake City headquarters didn't have enough employees to keep up with demand for the relay service. The company decided to open a second location to minimize the chances of a disruption that could knock out the service and to aid the mining-dependent economy in Price.

"We serve deaf individuals who don't use the regular telephone. The numbers vary from a half-million to over a million. That's how big we believe the market is," Nola said.

From The Salt Lake Tribune. Reprinted with permission. Back to Article List