New video phones allow deaf and hearing impaired travelers to make calls at Syracuse's airport
Alex Dunbar,, March 28, 2014

Flight delays or cancellations can happen to anyone. For most people, learning about a cancelled flight at the airport means a quick phone call to the airline to reschedule- but if you are deaf or hard of hearing, that isn't always possible. Syracuse's airport now has an option for hearing impaired travelers. Two video phones have been installed at the airport by Sorenson Communications.

The video phones are free for those who are deaf and hard of hearing. Through live video, an interpreter sees their sign language and then signs back what the person they are calling is saying.

Sorensen district manager Jim Tourangeau demonstrated it to CNYCentral on Friday afternoon with help from an interpreter.

"We are very visual and we communicate through sign language and this video phone helps us communicate between deaf and hearing people," said Tourangeau using sign language.

Aurora of Central New York, who helps people with vision and hearing disabilities, and the Disability Rights Clinic at the Syracuse University College of Law worked with the airport and Sorensen to bring the phones to Syracuse. SU law professor Michael Schwartz says the phones will be more efficient for the hearing impaired and raise awareness of visual communication.

"Someone can call, make a phone call immediately and not have to wait or ask somebody for help or use other devices. This is state of the art," said Schwartz using sign language.

The phones are intended to make the airport more accessible and are meant only for the use of those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Syracuse airport will have two video phones, one on either side of the TSA security checkpoint.

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