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Video phone is like Skype for the deaf
Center gets new communications device for the hearing impaired through grant
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Kelsey Ustrud, Youth Advocacy Coordinator/Peer Supporter for the Disability Resource Center in Gainesville, demonstrates the Center's new Public Access Video phone system Thursday afternoon. The system allows persons who are hearing impaired or speech disabled to make video phone calls.

The Disability Resource Center in Gainesville has a new piece of equipment that promises to make communication for the local deaf community a little easier.

The center was contacted by another nonprofit organization, Communication Service for the Deaf, about a grant that would allow the center to house a public access video phone.

Through a grant with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the PAV was provided at no cost to the center.

"We were fortunate that they did contact us and offer us this equipment," said Sandy Chandler, independent living coordinator.

"We're hoping that people will actually come in and use the equipment. We'd love to see as much use as possible out of it."

The PAV is a public phone and video device that allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired to communicate instantly.

In the past, people who are deaf or hard of hearing have had to either use a text telephone or operator relay.

"I think the biggest difference with this is that it uses video technology instead of just you typing it in. This is more like a telephone where there is instant gratification," Nancy Peeples, resource specialist, said.

The new PAV is essentially replacing the old-fashioned text telephone.

"What it does is it gives you a couple of options. It allows an interpreter to be seen on the screen or the option where you can see the person you're talking with on the screen," Peeples said.

"It's like Skyping for deaf people," Kelsey Ustrud, youth advocacy coordinator and peer supporter, added.

So far 21 states have the technology in place for public use. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the next closest PAV, Peeples said.

The hope is that more cities and public venues will also have this technology in place to allow for greater accessibility.

"This lets the deaf community feel more integrated with the rest of society. That's always a good thing," Ustrud said.

The center invites anyone who would like to try the PAV to drop by during regular business hours at 70-A Woodsmill Road; phone, 770-534-6656, website. There is no fee to use he equipment.

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