Sorenson launches product that offers more freedom to the deaf

Henrietta Logo Errin Cain, Henrietta Messenger Post, February 2, 2011

Henrietta, N.Y. — With the launch of a new communications product for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, they will now be able to make phone calls anytime, anywhere.

Sorenson Communications® announced Jan. 31 the release of its “ntouch® PC” and “ntouch® Mobile” products at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

The company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with an interpreting center in Henrietta, is the largest communications provider for the deaf, according to Sorenson Communications® President and CEO Pat Nola.

For eight years, the company has offered video relay service to people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Through the service, they can make phone calls to hearing people through a landline phone using video and an interpreter.

Using Sorenson’s video relay service, when deaf people make a phone call, they are put in contact through video with an interpreter at one of Sorenson’s more than 100 centers across the country. They are then able to communicate with the hearing person by signing to the interpreter, who, in turn, translates through speaking to the hearing person. When the hearing person speaks, the interpreter signs what is said to the deaf person.

With the launch of the “ntouch®,” deaf people in the United States and its territories will no longer be restricted to making calls from their home phones, said Nola. They will now be able to do so on their mobile phones and personal computers.

“These empowering products are called ‘ntouch®’ because they keep you in touch with everyone in your life,” he said.

The “ntouch®” software is being offered with the Sprint HTC EVO® phone, but Sorenson is looking at offering it with other phones in the near future, said Nola. To use the products, he said, the phone must have a self-facing camera.

The “ntouch®” PC software can be used with personal computers and laptops that have the Windows operating system.

A deaf person can connect to an interpreter wherever there is high-speed Internet for the “ntouch® PC” and wherever there is Wi-Fi or a 3G or 4G connection for the “ntouch Mobile.” The Sprint phone, said Nola, has 4G and very good video quality, which made it well-suited for “ntouch®.”

Sorenson also strives to make its products as “functionally equivalent” as possible to the phones used by hearing people, said Nola.

For example, hearing people often designate different ringtones for certain callers on their cellphones. To accommodate deaf people, the “ntouch® Mobile” offers “myRumble” vibration and flash patterns that correspond to specific designated callers so a deaf person can know who is calling by looking at the phone or by feeling the vibration when the phone is in a pocket.

If the person misses a call and the caller left a message, an interpreter will interpret the message into a video message for the person to view.

The new service will give deaf people more freedom, said Nola.

“If they’re traveling, just like a hearing person can, they can pull out their cell phone,” he said.

Jim Tourangeau, a district manager for Sorenson who is deaf, has been using the “ntouch®” for about three months in the company’s beta testing.

“I feel very independent using the product,” he said. “I have no worries when I’m on the road. I travel a lot. It’s good to be connected with my customers, my family and other business associates.”

From Henrietta Messenger Post. Reprinted with permission. Back to Article List