Viable Receives Green Light to Provide Real Telephone Numbers

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Deaf-owned provider of video relay services begins distributing local 10-digit telephone numbers to videophone users who are deaf or hard of hearing.

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The FCC Order makes it possible for deaf and hard of hearing people to receive calls from both deaf and hearing family members, friends and co-workers. This milestone may seem insignificant in 2009 but has at long last arrived for deaf and hard of hearing Americans

Viable, a deaf-owned, deaf-operated provider of video relay services (VRS) has been certified by NeuStar, the administrator of the nationwide 10-digit VRS numbering system, and on December 31, 2008, began distributing real, local telephone numbers that will enable one-step dialing for standard telephone users who want to call videophone users who are deaf or hard of hearing.

A Viable Number is a 10-digit telephone number that offers the functions and benefits of a real phone number and works seamlessly with existing PTSN telephone infrastructures. All Viable Numbers are local, free and real, and will automatically route calls from standard telephone users through ViableVRS.

Vice President of Technology Jason T. Yeh, who is deaf, said in a statement, "I am proud to announce that Viable's technologies are fully compliant with all FCC requirements and passed NeuStar's tests with flying colors. Viable Numbers have been loaded into the nationwide 10-digit VRS number database."

With a Viable Number, deaf and hard of hearing people can:

  • Receive VRS calls from hearing people without special dialing instructions
  • Receive videophone calls from deaf people
  • Make true 911 emergency VRS calls with their address pre-stored for instant retrieval by their local emergency responders

Chris Hoffmann, a deaf architect with Wisnewski Blair & Associates, a firm based in the Old Town district of Alexandria, VA, has been using his Viable Number with his hearing parents and his hearing co-workers for the past several weeks as part of a nationwide testing initiative. "It means a world of difference for me and them - I don't have to explain or educate them, I don't always have to be the one calling them. In a single step, they simply dial just my Viable Number and connect to me through a VRS interpreter. Having a Viable Number makes communication a two-way street."

Viable Numbers also provide true caller ID capability. The Viable Number of the person calling will show on the caller ID of the person receiving the call. In early 2009, all people with a Viable Number will receive VideoMail, Viable's proprietary video message service for missed calls.

The FCC requires VRS providers to offer real telephone numbers and Emergency 911 response to all VRS users by December 31, 2008. "The FCC Order makes it possible for deaf and hard of hearing people to receive calls from both deaf and hearing family members, friends and co-workers. This milestone may seem insignificant in 2009 but has at long last arrived for deaf and hard of hearing Americans," said Yeh. "Viable Number brings us all closer to the dream of functional equivalency and will create new, powerful communication opportunities for ViableVRS users."

Deaf and hard of hearing people interested in getting a Viable Number can sign up online at http://www.viable.net/product/myviable and must enter personal information for verification of U.S. residency and to register their address for 911 emergency response. Customer Support representatives fluent in sign language are on standby to help process Viable Number registrations from Monday-Friday from 9 AM - midnight EST and Saturday-Sunday from 9 AM - 5 PM EST:

  • VPAD: Click on "Help" then "Live"
  • Viable Vision: Click on "Help"
  • Videophone: help.ViableVRS.tv
  • AOL IM: ViableHELP
  • Email: help at viable dot net

To learn more, VRS users can go to http://www.viable.net/product/myviable. Important updates are also available in a video clip in American Sign Language at the webpage and Frequently Asked Questions are posted at http://www.viable.net/support/faq.

About Viable, Inc.
Viable develops videophones and provides next-generation video relay services for deaf and hard of hearing persons, opening them to a world of communication possibilities. Founded in 2006, Viable is a private, deaf-owned company, and many employees are deaf and hard of hearing and are personally vested in the innovation and development of the company's products and services. Visit http://www.viable.net for further information.

About Telecommunications Relay Services
Mandated by Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, telecommunications relay services (TRS) enables individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to achieve functional equivalence by accessing telephone systems to place or receive calls through an intermediary known as a relay operator or relay interpreter. Emergent IP technology has given rise to video-based solutions, which are known as video relay services (VRS). VRS options include using a webcam or a videophone to connect to a video relay interpreter, and allow deaf and hard of hearing callers for whom sign language is native to fully achieve the ideal of functional equivalence.

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Glenn Lockhart
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