April 2013


More and more people are making Video Relay Service (VRS) calls since the inception of Video Phones (VP) in early 2000. Using VP is still new to many of us and often we hear consumers complain or criticize about the services from various VRS companies. What is missing is our ability to know the right way to make an effective VRS call and to give positive feedback or criticism. It’s too easy to be rude and/or give negative comments; complain to friends or other people other than the company that you are dealing with when making VRS calls. And we do nothing about it.

Here are a few tips in making a successful VRS calls:

  • Always remember that you are in control of your VRS calls, not the VRS interpreter.
  • Let the VRS interpreter know if you wish for him/her to announce your call or not.
  • Take a few minutes to tell VRS interpreter what your call is about (doctor, lawyer, auto repair, friend/family, etc.) so the VRS interpreter can be better prepared to handle your call efficiently.
  • If you prefer to have a different VRS interpreter gender (male/female interpreter) to handle your call, you have the right to request for another VRS interpreter.
  • Remember that there are different ASL signs in different states all over the USA. Don’t be upset if the VRS interpreter don’t know the sign you use in your area. It is your responsibility to clarify for the VRS interpreter if they don’t understand what you are signing. Fingerspell clearly, if needed.
  • Write down the employee number of the VRS interpreter when making your call. It helps you to file complaint with the VRS company. The VRS companies cannot improve the interpreter’s skill if they do not know who is not doing a good job.
  • If you had a good experience it is always good to give positive feedback, let the VRS company know that you were satisfied with the VRS interpreter you used (by giving them the VRS interpreter’s #).
  • When giving credit card #, bank account #, social security #, etc. be sure that the VRS interpreter shows you they erased the # before you hang up.
  • Do not let family or friends interrupt you when you are in the middle of a VP call. It disruptive and distracting to the VRS interpreter and your call.
  • Remember that the VRS interpreter handles many calls throughout the day, by the minute. Some calls are happy, sad, professional, etc. It is always helpful to give positive feedback and comments as well.
  • If you have a complaint about VRS service, first contact the VRS company and try to resolve it with them. If you are still not satisfied, you have the right to file your complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Go to and click on “Take Action” bar at the top and follow the link.

In the real world we forget to be civil and it is often easier to criticize than it is to give praise. As consumers of VRS we need to focus on the principles of etiquette as it is essential to everyday life. By focusing on these principles, by challenging ourselves to stop highlighting the rudeness, we will see civility when making VRS calls. It is time for us to take control and to remember that we are ultimately responsible in making a successful VRS call.

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