ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 21 October 2013
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Volume 1, 21 October 2013
TRANSCRIPTION OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO-TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Issues related to the feasibility of establishing a video relay service Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-155 and 2013-155-1
140 Promenade du Portage
21 October 2013
In order to meet the requirements of the Official Languages Act, transcripts of proceedings before the Commission will be bilingual as to their covers, the listing of the CRTC members and staff attending the public hearings, and the Table of Contents.
However, the aforementioned publication is the recorded verbatim transcript and, as such, is taped and transcribed in either of the official languages, depending on the language spoken by the participant at the public hearing.
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Issues related to the feasibility of establishing a video relay service Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2013-155 and 2013-155-1
Lori PopeLegal Counsel
Kay SaicheuaHearing Manager and Manager, Social and Consumer Policy
140 Promenade du Portage
21 October 2013
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
The Canadian Hearing Society8 / 51
Toronto Association of the Deaf82 / 479
Ontario Video Relay Services Committee117 / 660
Ontario Association of the Deaf185 / 1073
Alberta Association of the Deaf222 / 1290
- v -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking221 / 1279
--- Upon commencing on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 0900
1 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
2 Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs.
3 Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this public hearing.
4 Over the years, the Commission has taken a number of steps to improve access to Telecommunications Services for Canadians with disabilities. As a result, Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired can make use of two text base relay services known as Internal Protocol Relay and Teletype Writer Relay to communicate by telephone.
5 During this hearing, we will examine whether a different service known as Video Relay Service should be offered in Canada. Such a service would enable Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired to make or receive a video call using sign language.
6 The video call would connect the sign language user to an operator who is connected by telephone to the other party. The operator would then relay the conversation from sign language to spoken language and vice versa.
7 In March 2013, we launched the current public proceeding to consider whether video relay service should be required in Canada and if so, how this could best be accomplished. Before deciding whether to require the provision of Video Relay Service in Canada the Commission must consider a number of questions.
8 The hearing panel encourages parties to provide as many facts as possible when addressing these questions. This will allow us to make an informed fact base decision.
9 The questions we would like to discuss with the parties appearing before us this week include the following:
10 What are the benefits of Video Relay Service?
11 To what extent, if any, does it meet the needs of people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired better than the technologies currently available?
12 Are the necessary interpreter resources available?
13 What are the implications of Video Relay Service for emergency calls and caller privacy?
14 What costs are related to the implementation of Video Relay Service?
15 How could such a service best be administered and by whom?
16 The Commission welcomes your submissions on these and other related topics. We are due to ensure that you not only provide your views, but also the necessary evidence to support them.
17 I would like to remind everyone that the Commission is an Administrative Tribunal which does not provide funds to set up or administer a Telecommunication Service. Rather, funding for Video Relay Service would come ultimately from providers and most likely subscribers of Telecommunication Services.
18 We must also keep in mind that the Commission receives its mandate to regulate and oversee the Canadian Telecommunication System from the Telecommunications Act.
19 The Act provides that the rates for Telecommunication Services shall be just and reasonable and prohibits unjust discrimination and the provision or rate of a Telecommunication Service.
20 In addition, the Commission must exercise its powers with a view to implementing the objectives that are set out in the Act. Among others, these objectives include:
21 Facilitating the development of a system that safeguards, enriches and strengthens the social and economic fabric of Canada and its regions.
22 Responding to the economic and social requirements of those who use Telecommunication Services.
23 Stimulating research and development in Canada in the field of Telecommunication Services and encouraging innovation in the provision of Telecommunication Services and ensuring that Canadians have access to high quality reliable and affordable services. This sometimes requires us to balance competing objectives.
24 The Commission must also follow the Government's Policy Direction which requires it to rely on market forces to the greatest extent possible.
25 As we discuss Video Relay Service over the coming week, we must consider the needs of Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired.
26 We must also consider the impact of possible introduction of such a service could have on the realisation of the Telecommunications Acts Policy Objectives and the Policy Direction the Government issued to the Commission in 2006.
27 To ensure a full and meaningful participation the CRTC published its Notice of Consultation in English, French, American sign Rlanguage and Langue des signes québecoise.
28 For the first time, Canadians have the option of submitting comments in sign language through the CRTC's YouTube channel. Transcripts of these video submissions were made available on the public record for everyone to review.
29 In total, we received more than 3,000 comments in connection with this proceeding. We are very pleased with the engagement of Canadians and the contributions they have made to date. My fellow commissioners and I look forward to their continued input during this hearing.
30 Simultaneous translation will be offered in English and French as well as in American sign language and Langue des signes québecoise.
31 Links to an audio feed and video feed of the Sign language interpreters will be available throughout the hearing on our website.
32 To facilitate the effectiveness of these interpretation services, all participants are asked to communicate clearly and at a speed that allows the interpreters to keep pace.
33 In response to requests from some parties appearing today, close captioning services will be offered in English today.
34 Finally, I would like to remind all parties that if at any time the questions posed by the panel are unclear, they can and should seek clarification. If you require assistance during the hearing, our staff members in the Hearing Room and in the Public Examination Room will be pleased to help you.
35 Let me now introduce the panel members. On my immediate left, Elizabeth Duncan, Regional Commissioner for the Atlantic and Nunavut. On my immediate right, Tom Pentefountas, Vice-Chairman of Broadcasting. On my far right, Raj Shoan, Regional Commissioner for Ontario. And on my far left, Stephen Simpson, Regional Commissioner for British Columbia and Yukon.
36 And myself, Peter Menzies, Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications. I will be presiding over this hearing.
37 The Commission team assisting us includes Kay Saicheua, Hearing Manager and Manager of Social Policy; Lori Pope and Daniel Finestone, Legal Counsel; and Jade Roy, Hearing Secretary and Public Hearing Supervisor.
38 I would now invite the Hearing Secretary, Jade Roy, to explain the procedures we will be following.
39 Madame la Secrétaire.
40 THE SECRETARY: Good morning,
41 Mr. Chairman, and welcome everyone.
42 Before we start, I would like to go over a few housekeeping matters to ensure the proper conduct of the hearing.
43 When you are in the Hearing Room, we would ask that you please turn off your cell phones as they are an unwelcome distraction and they cause interference in the Internal Communication systems used by our translators.
44 We would appreciate your cooperation in this regard throughout the hearing.
45 Nous désirons rappeler aux participants d'allouer un délai raisonnable pour la traduction lors de leur présentation à vive voix, tout en respectant le temps alloué pour leur présentation.
46 There is a verbatim transcript of this hearing being taken by the Court Reporter, which will be posted daily on the Commission's website. If you have any questions on how to obtain all or part of this transcript, please approach the Court Reporter during the break.
47 Veuillez noter que les documents seront disponibles sur Twitter sur le compte du CRTC à @CRTCaudiences en utilisant le mot-clic dièse CRTC.
48 Just a reminder that pursuant to Section 41 of the Rules of Practice and Procedures, you must not submit evidence at the hearing unless it supports statements already on the Public Record. If you wish to introduce new evidence as an exception to this rule, you must ask permission of the panel of the hearing before you do so.
49 We will now begin with the presentation by the Canadian Hearing Society. Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
50 Thank you.
51 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Mr. Chair, bonjour, good morning. Thank you for inviting us to make a presentation.
52 My name is Gary Malkowski, Special Advisor to Public Affairs at Canadian Hearing Society.
53 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): My name is Jim Hardman, and I am the IT Director for Canadian Hearing Society.
54 MS JOHNSTON: Hello! I'm Sheila Johnston, I am the Manager of the Interpreter Internship Program at the Canadian Hearing Society.
55 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Briefly, I am going to talk about Canadian Hearing Society. We are a charitable organization and the board that operates our organization has a majority of deaf members.
56 We were founded in 1940 and our vision is a society where all people are respected, have equal participation, equal communication and able to participate equally in society, in social, economic and emotionally with no barriers.
57 We are a leading provider of services, products and information that reduces barriers, advances hearing health, promotes equity for people who are culturally deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing.
58 Our brochure is included in our package and that talks about our programs, such as Accessibility Services, Education Sign Language Services, Employment Consulting. We provide Video Conferencing Services and Video Remote Interpreting and Remote CART Services. We provide those services across Canada.
59 Our position is that action is needed by CRTC to ensure that Video Relay Services are readily available across Canada, to every extent possible and in the most effective and efficient manner.
60 It's time for CRTC to move ahead with plans for VRS, including funding and implementation across Canada.
61 All Canadians, including deaf Canadians want to be able to fully participate in Canadian society. Video Relay Services is one critical tool that enables them to participate.
62 VRS is the only tool that deaf people can use to engage with telecommunication services in a manner that is functionally equivalent to how hearing customers engage with telecommunication services.
63 Current relay services in Canada have failed to keep pace with technological advancements. Canada is one of only two countries in the G8 that does not have VRS.
64 According to a Federal Court decision with the Canadian Association of the Deaf vs. Canada, the ruling of Mr. Justice Mosley said:
"As Canadians, deaf persons are entitled to be full participating in the democratic process and functioning of government. It is fundamental to an inclusive society that those with disabilities be accommodated when interacting with the institutions of government. The nature of the interests affected is central to the dignity of deaf persons. If they cannot participate in government survey or interact with government officials, they are not able to fully participate in Canadian life."
65 My point is that VRS would help me to interact with the Government of Canada and with society in general. We rely on VRS.
66 There are plenty of legal precedents to support VRS. The Canadian Telecommunications Policy in Section 7 in the Telecommunications Act, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If you look at Section 15, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 1997 on the Eldridge case, the Federal Court of Canada's and the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed by the Canadian Government in 2007 and ratified in 2010.
67 Now, I would like to talk about the funding of VRS. It's a legal obligation of the Federal Government. It needs to be mandated by CRTC. The program should be funded by all Telecommunications Service providers across Canada. And we would support a centralized funding model which would be easily administered.
68 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted):To be effective and efficient, the service must be national in scope with equivalency for both ASL and LSQ users in English or in French. It must be available 24/7 and there needs to be interoperability and quality standards related to equipment and service.
69 Vendors need to have full interoperability and we would recommend one platform that would be to support the VRS program and consumers would use that platform to not only access VRS, but also to make point to point calls.
70 We need to have standards for the technology so that it's easy to use and we need support for that technology for both the vendors and for the consumers. Training needs to be provided to consumers and vendors on how to use VRS.
71 We also need to have interpreter standards and training which Sheila will speak to. We need to have standards for response time. We need a complaint process.
72 One of the critical thing in establishing a VRS program is the oversight. We are all accountable for funding dollars and how they are spent.
73 Talking about functional equivalency, we have this picture on this slide. So, the deaf person signs to the operator, the interpreter operator will interpret their message and then they speak to the hearing person who listens.
74 Now, this service is not just for deaf people. It's also for people who can hear because they need to communicate with deaf people.
75 The current TTY Relay Service is only 30 words a minute, so it's very slow and it takes a long time to complete a conversation.
76 With VRS we can function at 150 words a minute, so we can sign at our normal pace and conversation will be virtually occurring at a natural speed, so it's in real time compared to TTY communication. So, we can use our own natural language, sign language, to communicate naturally.
77 So, that communicates our emotion, our tone, all of those non-verbal things which can't be done using the TTY.
78 So, this would provide more opportunities for deaf people to function in business because communication will be effective. The TTY is a barrier for deaf people to operate businesses and it creates more frustration.
79 VRS would also reduce the time it takes to communicate. It needs to be recognized as an essential service.
80 We have looked at the Bell Feasibility Study and we believe that it will have a positive effect on the social and economic well-being of deaf people across Canada.
81 When we talk about functional equivalency, you know hearing people can pick up the phone and they have national service. It's available to all Canadians, it's available 24/7. There is a standard cost for a phone line. They have mobile phones and the standard cost for those. Everyone has a ten-digit number.
82 So, this service for VRS has to be a national service available to all Canadians 24/7 with 911, just the same as people can hear, benefit from that service. We need to be able to use VRS to call 911. The costs need to be equivalent.
83 And this is a challenge, of course, you know, what is an equitable cost for deaf people to pay for the service. So, we need to have the cost balanced so that no one is paying an extraordinary amount.
84 We need to have a certain amount of bandwidth, just like hearing people pay a certain amount per month for calls across Canada, then deaf people need to have equivalent in terms of bandwidth so that they have equivalent access to what hearing people have.
85 Well, like 911, which needs to be available 24/7, VRS needs to be available 24/7. We live in a global society now, you know. People need to call people in other countries. They may be calling at 2:00 in the morning. We need to be able to call a crisis line or contact people in an emergency with using the TTY relay services is very frustrating and very time consuming. Using VRS could actually save lives.
86 The cost issue needs to be discussed. It needs to be equitable. Maybe not all consumers will be able to afford VRS.
87 We need to establish some kind of strategy to have public VRS booths, so it would mean that a consumer could go to an agency or an organization who would have a VRS booth available so that they could access the service as well.
88 And VRS has to be compatible with every device so that you can communicate from -- so you know, you can communicate through PC, Mac, Android, iOS. All of those systems need to be inter-operable, and we need to have one platform that can do that. So we need one video protocol to be established.
89 For 911, it's -- that's a critical service. And with the next generation 911 being established, we may not have full access immediately, but as the system is developed, we need to make sure that VRS will allow us to access 911.
90 We also need access to emergency broadcasts, whether it's weather warnings or natural disasters, Amber Alerts, et cetera.
91 MS JOHNSTON: So having said all that, obviously there's infrastructure that goes with that. And one of the things that we wanted to highlight was the need for some of the standards that you want to consider when you put a system like this in place. And probably one of the most important is looking at the standards of hiring and how you're going to be staff folks, how do you recruit them, how do you -- what kind of retention systems do you have.
92 One of the most critical things, I believe, is that we need to make sure that there are screening standards in place for the interpreters that are hired. There may be recommendations that, you know, you have students do this, people who are going to interpreter training programs.
93 However, as much as we like to think of the -- you know, the fuzzy commercials where you're calling grandma to say "Happy birthday", as Jim pointed out, there's also the emergency situations.
94 There's the phone call that we hope we never receive from the doctor on, you know, results of a biopsy. There's the teenager who is trying to call the help line. And so there are the emotional and stressful calls, too, and you want to ensure that you've got quality service there. So I think you need to look at screening standards.
95 You want to then look at the environment that the people are working in because there are health and safety issues, both ergonomically looking at the system that the interpreters will be working within, but also the mental health because, unfortunately, community interpreting and life itself can be a little bit messy. And so there will be some of those calls that will -- you'll get emotional response on the part of the interpreter.
96 So you want to make sure you've got peer support and that you've got professional development opportunities.
97 You're not going to be able to house it with all nationally certified interpreters, but if you put in place a way that you can have peer support, professional development, you do bring in some of the newer interpreters. You have the more experienced interpreters who can act as guidance and can offer that support with the difficult calls. They can be transferred over, the more difficult calls, to the more experienced people, and you grow a pool of interpreters in that way.
98 And you then look at also a compensation package, and that's not just the dollar value, but it is all of those other softer skills, like the support and the professional development so that, in fact, you're looking at a package that will attract in a pretty tight market some qualified folks.
99 And so in terms of speaking to screening requirements, you have to understand that, in terms of our own experience at the Canadian Hearing Society, recent graduates, brand new graduates, don't tend to pass our screening, so you want to make sure that you put something in place that you've got a nice entry level so that people can do the phoning for pizza and the calling grandma fun calls, but then you also have the people who have the experience to move above and beyond the entry level people.
100 And obviously, you want to make sure that they're following the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada, the AVLIC, code of ethics so that you've got professional interpreters and they're following a professional code.
101 And you will get those calls across Canada with deaf people who have idiosyncratic signs in both ASL or LSQ, regional differences across the country. And so again, you're going to need to make sure you've got qualified people who can deal with that -- those calls and an understanding that you're going to need a range of interpreters and that not every single person has to be the very top interpreter you're going to find in the country.
102 And you want to make sure that you're looking at vulnerable sector screening components of that because you will have privacy issues. You will have people who will be divulging very personal information on the phone, talking to doctors, lawyers, emergency hotlines and so on.
103 And then we would propose a minimum of two to three years of experience with, say, video or remote interpreting experience. And that obviously assumes that they have graduated from interpreter programs and that they have a strong foundation in interpreting.
104 So that sounds like a lot to ask, so where do we find these wonderful people in a market where I'm amazed you've got so many interpreters here today? It's a stiff competition, and I know that because I'm a nationally certified interpreter myself.
105 So I think what we're suggesting is you also want to look at things like internships so that you do bring in newer people, you have that structure so that you begin to grow your pool of interpreters. You don't want to suck the whole life out of community interpreting.
106 Everybody still wants to go to their doctor face to face. But there are ways of looking at systems that would allow you to have a flexible service so that some interpreters are working in probably both settings, so they may still be doing community interpreting, businesses, working in the -- you know, the day to day stuff, educational interpreting. But they're also able to work in a system that allows them to provide a different type of community interpreting, which would be Video Relay Service interpreting.
107 And I think that looking at that full package, at the development of skills, at screenings and at training, you're going to be able to satisfy those needs.
108 And I'm just going to turn that back over to Gary.
109 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Bell Canada's mission consulting feasibility study report on VRS. We've looked at that, and we would strongly support their recommendations, including the benefits of VRS, the implementation of a national VRS.
110 We recognize the interpreter challenges, development of VRS technologies, consumer end devices, compensation models and a monitoring mechanism to do the oversight and to have centralized funding and administration where the funds would be contributed by the TSPs.
111 In terms of next steps, we need to have immediate attention from CRTC to plan and fund and implement VRS now. We need to have the key stakeholders engaged, both ASL and LSQ deaf representatives, experts, interpreters in all of the aspects of managing and delivering VRS services from implementation to operations and monitoring.
112 In closing, the time for discussion whether VRS is needed must end now.
113 Telephone service providers provide telecommunication services to all of their customers, and VRS is the most functionally equivalent mechanism to that service to all Canadians, including deaf and hearing people.
114 It makes absolute sense that TSPs pay for the cost of VRS to ensure that everyone has the ability to use the basic concept of telecommunication technology.
115 We have excellent resources and articles, for example, this book "Video Relay Service Interpreters". This is published by Gallaudet University Press.
116 There's another excellent article published by AVLIC, their occupational health and safety for interpreters.
117 There's an RID practice paper related to VRS provision.
118 I would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to present to help establish this national VRS service.
119 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. You managed to pack a lot into your 20 minutes. I appreciate that.
120 We have a lot of questions to pack into the next hour, so I'll try to be as efficient as I can in asking them.
121 And first of all, what is the size of the population in Canada that is deaf and is not fluent in either English or French?
122 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): It's important to understand that there are a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people who don't report being deaf or hard of hearing in statistics, but we assume there are about 34,000 Canadians who use sign language.
123 The Canadian Association of the Deaf, their statistics say that about 10 percent of Canadians have a hearing loss. And so about one percent of those are considered profoundly deaf, using sign language, so that makes -- that makes about 350,000.
124 THE CHAIRPERSON: Sure. I understand the broader -- the broader population. I'm just trying to be kind of specific on this question. And I understand the broader need.
125 I'm trying to get at the number of Canadians who communicate only -- who are able to communicate only through sign language.
126 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Well, according to the Bell Canada report, the Mission Consulting's report, 34,0000 Canadians --
127 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
128 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): -- use sign language.
129 THE CHAIRPERSON: Now, I want to give you an opportunity to address the points made by some intervenors, who have suggested that technological innovation is increasingly meeting the needs of the deaf community. And I note as an aside that in the Telus trial, 70 percent of the calls involved sign to sign conversations that didn't require an interpreter.
130 So can you please comment on those intervenors who suggested that technological advancement will ultimately be the best vehicle for serving the communications needs of the deaf community rather than a complex VRS system?
131 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Well, VRS provides -- is really the best approach to provide us with equivalent service.
132 Some of the technologies that exist out there right now are not sufficient, are not adequate to provide us with the access we need.
133 It's important to recognize that, you know, people use the telephone for many different reasons. They call friends and family, certainly, appropriately. They call for services. They call for things like computer support.
134 VRS is essential for us to keep up with communications. The TTY takes so long that it's a barrier.
135 I think it's important to consider the functional equivalencies. You know, hearing people benefit by using the phone and real-time communication, but, you know, for example, yes, many of my friends are deaf and I would communicate with them point to point using sign language, certainly. But we could also benefit by using the VRS platform to do that, so we could have direct communication in that way.
136 But my mother is hearing, and if I want to call my mother, it would be preferable to call through VRS to have an effective conversation.
137 So we're talking about functional equivalency.
138 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
139 You're advocating a 24/7 system right out of the gate, and I'm wondering if -- even if that was an aspirational goal that might not be put less pressure on the initial pool of interpreters to sort of work up to that.
140 I'm asking basically how reasonable is it to expect to be able to access the resources required for a full 24/7 system right from the beginning, particularly given that the Telus trial experience was that there was very, very little overnight use and not a lot of response when they cut it back.
141 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): The goal, of course, is 24/7. We would see that as a longer-term goal.
142 But for example, if 911 -- 911 is not nine to five, so if we are accessing 911 through VRS, then we would need to have it 24/7.
143 And we understand that things will progress somewhat slowly. The Bell report suggested three to five years, so by the end of five years that it would be completely 24/7.
144 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
145 As you mentioned 911, isn't the general trend of telecommunications users these days is to -- is more text? Text to 911 is coming into the system next year and people are -- in the hearing community, people are using text more and voice less.
146 So isn't that the best solution for 911?
147 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Again, we're talking about access. When people call by phone, they have immediate access in their own chosen language.
148 Deaf people -- maybe some deaf people choose to speak. Some deaf people may choose to use text. But their natural expression is through sign language, and they need to be able to convey accurate information.
149 And in order to do that effectively, they need to do it in sign language.
150 The technology is already available to do this. We have interpreters. So why can't we have our equal access, whether it's through VRS, through text or through any other means?
151 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
152 You mentioned that you thought VRS should be part of emergency alert system. We don't actually have one -- an emergency alerting system yet except in Alberta. But how would you see that working?
153 Would it be sort of a reverse 911?
154 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think in Canada we have wonderful resources and wonderful technology. There's always rooms to build and to improve.
155 I think it's important to commit to build the resources and our technological capacity and to include signing in that.
156 Emergency notifications, I think, are part of the future and we need to build that in.
157 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): For each consumer registered with VRS, they will be able to establish a profile so that if they call VRS for an emergency, their profile will come up so that emergency contacts can be done immediately.
158 And technologically, it's feasible to immediately connect a call to 911 through that. But I think as the new technology for 911 is implemented across Canada, eventually that will -- that will be able to happen.
159 Currently, we understand that there are limitations in the 911 technology, but we expect to see that develop.
160 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. I have a couple of questions about availability of interpreters.
161 First of all, do you not think that if there was more work available, more -- and more people would train as interpreters? In other words, if the demand for interpreters goes up that training institutions, people would want to sign up and that would fill that void?
162 There would be a time lapse, I understand, but if you follow demand -- supply and demand, you would think that would -- in other words, why would all this extra training money be necessary?
163 MS JOHNSTON: One of the things you have to realize when you're looking at the current landscape of interpreting is that most of the people entering the interpreter training programs have no background in the sign language, either ASL or LSQ, and so you're trying to get people up to speed in three years to learn a brand new language.
164 If I woke up tomorrow and said I wanted to speak German, I'm not sure I'd be an interpreter in three years.
165 So I think that one of the difficulties is looking at the overall structure, and I think that that is definitely something that trying to engage with the Ministries of Education and saying can we get sign language as some of the credit courses into high schools and so on so that you then eventually will get people who will see this as a career that has real potential.
166 They'll start taking sign language in maybe high school, even elementary classes have it as a linguistic option within the high schools so that you'll get people entering the interpreter training programs with greater proficiency so they're graduating with greater proficiency.
167 But I think that what we want to do is realize that there will be sort of a ramping up. Whether you'll need to have this kind of continued mentorship or internship program in five years, in 10 years, that's harder to say.
168 We run an internship program and, in the last 10 years, over 50 folks have come out of it where you grow a pool of people. And I think that what you want to do is consider how do you put a structure in place that will allow that pool to continue to grow.
169 And it has -- it then also does attract bright young folks who say this really is a career for me and I can see myself not just dabbling in it, but this is something that will actually be sustainable.
170 So I do think it will help.
171 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
172 Our mandate is reasonably narrow here in terms of telecommunications system, but I am interested in knowing -- I think it would be helpful for us -- how widespread is there concern within the deaf community that a VRS system would draw interpreters away from where they are needed elsewhere?
173 As an example, during the Telus trial in Calgary, I encountered a young woman who was going to university who was having difficulty accessing an interpreter for her classes because all the interpreters were working on the VRS system.
174 MS JOHNSTON: I think that's why we were talking about the flexibility of the model itself. It's unlikely you're going to get interpreters who will sit in front of a screen for a full eight-hour shift because there's just some -- just some of the physical demands of it make that impossible.
175 So, I think that really there have been some historical issues in terms of what VRS services have been available as the product has gone down to the States, it hasn't been Canadian.
176 So, some interpreters maybe have not been -- there's been a bit of a draw within the community, some struggles there.
177 I think that if you've got a Canadian-made program where interpreters see the value of giving to their own community as well as working through a VRS system, you are going to see people who will work in both areas; I don't think you're going to see people sitting in front of a screen eight hours a day. There aren't enough interpreters, period, absolutely.
178 But that's why, again, the more that we can raise the profile of the field, the more you bring people in, you grow the pool, it's going to have -- I believe it will have benefits to the community, both in terms of the interpreter in the -- you know, in the school or in the doctor's office, as well as in your -- within the video relay systems.
179 THE CHAIRPERSON: How much will it cost as outlined by you? If every request that you outlined in your submission was met, what would be the annual cost of operating the VRS system?
180 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think in terms of start-up, according to the Mission Consulting Report they had three models.
181 The start-up, if it was 24/7 was $32 million and, if the hours were reduced, it would be 28 million depending on interpreter availability in both ASL and LSQ.
182 But they projected five-year increments including training and they estimated 28 to 32 million a year, depending on the hours of availability that they put in place.
183 The FCC has set up some actual cost pictures for VRS operation and, so, it's a good time to look at that.
184 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes, there's a lot of variance in cost estimates. So, for the record, you're comfortable with the estimate offered by Mission Consulting?
185 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes. The Canadian Hearing Society fully supports their model and the projections -- their financial projections and we think that that's pretty close to actual costs.
186 And, you know, we certainly need to monitor the finances and the statistical reports once it gets going to get the real figures.
187 Really, the cost issue is important, but we also need to recognize the functional equivalency and we also have the requirement of good oversight in terms of spending so that money isn't spent unnecessarily.
188 But that 32 million is based on what Mission Consulting projected but, you know, as things go that may change. We trust Mission Consulting's analysis of that.
189 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. In your submission you suggest that the VRS should be funded through a surcharge or levy on the providers to build a national VRS fund.
190 Do you think that charge should be applied to telephony revenues, internet revenues or both?
191 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Both. A surcharge is one way; a levy is another way, national contributions. I think the costs should be shared by all telephone service providers and pooled into a centralized fund.
192 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. And on another matter, why would a basic VRS internet package be necessary for users? In other words, how many users are currently unable to access internet services due to financial restrictions?
193 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): We don't have actual statistics on this because there are people who are receiving social assistance, but people -- there are many people who can't afford high-speed internet fees, but some of them can certainly go to the library and use the services there.
194 Many deaf people, of course, you know, can afford basic internet fees, just like hearing people have basic telephone service. Many people instead of having a land line, a telephone land line, they may prefer to just go with internet service.
195 A basic internet package might not be enough, you know, you never know, in terms of uploading or downloading, there are bandwidth issues and that's why we think there should be a minimum standard established and, you know, maybe 2 megabytes upload, depends on the platform that's established.
196 So, I can't really answer that very completely because it is a technical issue.
197 Remember when you bought your first VHS machine, you know, they were like up to $2,000, now you can get them for 40. Technology changes.
198 THE CHAIRPERSON: It was even worse if you bought a Beta machine.
199 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes, we've had that experience. If we want to avoid that experience, we have to find a way to use, you know, less expensive technology and we do have that kind of technology available now.
200 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have any concerns that with a basic VRS internet package, if it was put together, that that would restrict consumer choice on the part of users?
201 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): No, I think it would be the opposite, I think it would increase consumer choice.
202 So, it would depend on how the fiber optic system -- you know, where that's available. You know, we have lots of different software programs that allow you to access that all over the place. The important thing is that everything needs to be compatible to make sure that everyone has access no matter where they are.
203 And, so, really that will help increase choices. Without VRS, we have less choices.
204 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): To add to that, the basic internet package would be acceptable, depending on bandwidth.
205 Some people may be using VRS for their business operations and they may be using it 2 gigabytes a day, you know. If we put a cap on it, you know, that may not be fair.
206 We know that for the telephone, people can get across Canada long-distance packages. We want to make sure that we have access to the equivalent, so we need to look at bandwidth and upload/download capacity.
207 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, why do you think a demand-driven model similar to the one in the U.S. is preferable in terms of customer service as opposed to supply -riven or tariffed models?
208 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Again, that's a chicken and egg question, you know --
209 THE CHAIRPERSON: I know it is.
210 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): -- demand/supply costs, they have a place, but we need to develop our resource capacity and we need to move on, we need to start, we need to get going, establish the system. There's always place for improvement.
211 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, you want us to be able to define the demand by the user community and build a system that meets that needs, or have somebody build a system that meets that needs?
212 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yeah. We do have resources and technology and we're asking you to establish a minimum standard to expand consumer choice, not reduce our choice. If we don't have VRS, that reduces our options.
213 And, so, we want to make sure that you support VRS in order to expand our options.
214 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. How could users be assured of confidentiality and that their privacy is protected when interpretation is used?
215 MS JOHNSTON: Again, that goes back to the issue of setting standards within the hiring practices and obviously within the policies of the model that you put together.
216 The AVLIC, which is the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada which is the national association of interpreters will be speaking later this week, but there is a code of conduct that interpreters who are members of that association, which I would assume that you would have as mandatory criteria for hiring follow and, so, you would have that.
217 That's why we also mentioned the idea of having the police screening, so that you're sure of who you're hiring as well, but you would have those policies in place. Just as currently with the Bell Relay Service there is an expectation of confidentiality.
218 All interpreters working who are members of the national association do follow a code of conduct which does include confidentiality, so that privacy would, in fact, be protected under that.
219 THE CHAIRPERSON: Is there any history that we're unaware of of breaches or anything that should be drawn to our attention in terms of anything we might need to do to reinforce those, or are you comfortable with the industry's standards right now?
220 MS JOHNSTON: I believe the industry standard does deal with the issue of confidentiality, but you would also, obviously, want to put policies in place in terms of disciplinary action and so on.
221 There is a complaint system within the national association, but I'm not aware of any breaches in terms of what's happened with the Bell Relay Service. Are there ever breaches of confidentiality? I would say in any association that may occur with any professional, but you would want to, therefore, ensure that you've got those policies and procedures in place and that there are those expectations in monitoring the system.
222 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you think VRS should be open to -- sorry, go ahead.
223 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): To add to that, there is a complaint process through Bell Relay Service and if people have concerns they contact the Special Needs Centre, they investigate and, you know, the result may be discipline or increased training.
224 So, that has happened on a number of occasions. And, so, you know, there is an accountability system in place for Bell Relay, so we would need the same.
225 MS JOHNSTON: And if I can just add, very briefly, again, you're going to be then -- what's different than the Bell Relay Service is that professional interpreters have, in fact, been trained in this code of ethics, they've gone through training programs, they are members of a professional association, so you're dealing with professional interpreters who would adhere to a code of conduct.
226 And, so, I think some of those training issues may be less problematic with this field.
227 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you think VRS services should be open to competition for multiple providers or do you think it perhaps should be structured for a single RFP?
228 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think it's important, according to Bell Canada, that it be established with centralized funding so that all of the service providers would contribute to that and be overseen by a governance model so that they would be responsible for overseeing that central funding.
229 And, so, I think one RFP is the best way to have centralized funding, a national system and, of course, we would need parallel systems for ASL English and LSQ French and perhaps available to third party vendor services, but the monitoring and accountability for providing those services would be central.
230 THE CHAIRPERSON: A single authority then overseeing multiple service providers? Is that what...?
231 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes.
232 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
233 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): With the understanding there would be two separate governance systems; one for English ASL and one for French LSQ because the two groups have different cultural perspectives and, so, they would need slightly different governance.
234 THE CHAIRPERSON: Please help me understand. Would it be slightly different administration, or slightly different governance?
235 I understand there would be different cultures, but I'm not sure why the governance model should be different. I understand why the administration model might be different, but I'm not sure about the governance.
236 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): For example, when we're looking at spoken language and decision-making processes, in English ASL, in that process they have their own resources and they're different. In the LSQ francophone community, there are different resource needs.
237 And in the governance system, you know, for example, here at CRTC you have ways to establish policies and they're all bilingual and, so, you have one governance entity which then would oversee the administration of two separate operational models.
238 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Thank you for clarifying, that's helpful.
239 If there was a -- well, there always is potential -- if there was a request for proposals to offer this service, what would be the most important criteria to demand, what would be the first item -- say, three items that you would ask for in an RFP?
240 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I would say a centralized funding system in place. Secondly, minimum requirement for VRS interpreters, for example, the health and safety issues like the number of hours, the cost schedule, developing our capacity to provide interpreting.
241 THE CHAIRPERSON: How many hours a week is it reasonable to expect an interpreter to be able to work?
242 MS JOHNSTON: I hear some of my colleagues chuckling behind me.
243 MS JOHNSTON: There are standards that look at 20 hours a week absolutely as a standard. I think that this is a new -- this is a new form of interpreting, sitting at a desk in front of a screen and I would think it would be presumptuous of me to be able to make that declaration because we're usually looking at, when you say 20 hours a week, also included in that is the travel to get to assignments and to leave them and so on. And, so, there are some health and safety issues.
244 And there was work commissioned by the WSIB here, the Workforce, whatever -- Work Safety and Insurance Board, sorry, that did look at some of the physical demands. So, you do have to take that into consideration, which is why you may want to look at a flexible model that allows some in-office time and not a nine to five full-time position, they may perhaps work in the community as well as behind a desk. But that's sort of a new field for me, so I'm not -- I would be cautious about saying --
245 THE CHAIRPERSON: But it wouldn't be up to us to getting into labour standards, I don't think.
246 What I was trying to get at, really, is an understanding of, could a person make a comfortable full-time living working as a VRS interpreter and would that be sufficient to draw them into that line of work?
247 MS JOHNSTON: I think that you do have to look at the physical demands of the job and, so, you would have to look at how you can model a workplace to allow that to happen and that's why I'm wondering about the possibility of physical -- of sort of a work share so that people are also in the community as well as...
248 You may, in fact, have to look at some of those factors so that you would see people working not necessarily a nine to five, five days a week.
249 But I don't have the background to speak to that, however, I do think that this is an added opportunity for work for interpreters. And so, in fact, you would see people who would be able to see this as a stable occupation where they know they're not going to just constantly be freelancing where, you know, you're at sort of the beckon call of supply/demand but, in fact, that this is something that would attract people, I believe, to have that stability in the workforce.
250 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do you have a view on how relevant MRS services will be in the future if VRS is implemented?
251 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Again, we're looking at the experience in the United States. There is still a need for it. There are deafened people who have captioning service, text service and with the aging population they may prefer to use an MRS system.
252 VRS in the United States has a huge growing demand for that service and many people who used to use the TTY system have switched to using VRS, but I think we still need to consider having the options available, a wide range of options.
253 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand.
254 Now, a lot of the discussion around this, and it is typically Canadian, when we discuss things we just talk about the United States. But I'd like to know, there's a number of models internationally, New Zealand and Australia for instance. Is there one of those that you would recommend to us to look at as a possible guide for structure?
255 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes. If you look at the study that was -- the Ofcom report, it was a report on the international deployment of VRS services. They looked at 4,000 culturally deaf people, 24,000 signing users of relay services.
256 In New Zealand there are 4,000 people registered to us the VRS service. But they found 24,000 sign language users were using the VRS services. So that was the statistics from them. And that seems to be the trend in other countries.
257 So it is not just deaf people who use the service, but there are many hearing people who want to communicate with deaf people. And so actually there are more hearing people who are using the service than deaf people, because they use it to communicate with deaf people.
258 You know, we keep focusing on deaf people, but hearing people us the service too. It is like elevators are not just for people who use wheelchairs, they are for everyone. And VRS services will be used by everyone.
259 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. Those are my questions for now.
260 My colleagues have some questions, and I will put you in the hands of Commissioner Duncan for now. Thanks.
261 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning. I have some questions as a result of your comments this morning.
262 First of all, I would like to start -- I understand that you are, and you are very clear, that the program should be fully funded by the TSPs, telecommunications service providers. But just to clarify on the Chairman's question with respect to the revenues that would be assessed.
263 Are you taking an opinion on whether internet revenues should be included or not included? There's a difference of opinion between at least some of the cable companies and the telephone company. Or are you just stating it should be paid for by telecommunications service providers, however that is determined?
264 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): I understand the telephone service providers and the cable service providers are not in agreement. But we think that they should all fund the service. And the telephone needs to be included in the service as well as the internet service providers, because both systems are needed, and so I think that they should both be required to fund it.
265 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. You did comment when you were talking about the capacity that users should have, that there obviously should be a minimum. But then you commented on somebody who would be using the service for business.
266 And so just as in the hearing community, if you use greater capacity because you're using it for work, you would expect to pay more. Are you in agreement with that?
267 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Yes. Really if it is, you know, part of the business model, providing services to business, and we are aware that, you know, some people in terms of having the services in their own home, they might not be able to afford it for personal use.
268 And that is why we did suggest having public access sites so that people would be able to access the service in addition to -- you know, so that we would have a range of costs. But home cost for personal user would be equivalent to the personal cost for someone using the telephone and for a business user, equivalent to what a business user would pay for their telephone services.
269 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you. I understand.
270 I am just wondering, because we have to be concerned that we don't impose a hardship on even other Canadians for paying for this service, because although the TSPs will pay, it is quite likely the cost will be passed on to other Canadians.
271 So I am just wondering if you have a feel for what would be a limit, what would be the most that it would be reasonable to expect Canadians to pay, individual Canadians, to pay to support VRS? Not that they shouldn't, but what the amount would be. What would be the maximum?
272 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Well, we would need to look at what the actual cost for start up in operations were going to be, you know, between the $28 to $32 million. But over time, those costs will go down and then we will have a good picture of what the real costs are.
273 And then we would need to look at the costs for operating, the costs for the interpreting services. We need to look at the costs in other countries and how they have done it.
274 I think the FCC model is a good one to look at so that, you know, it includes mechanisms for reducing fraud. And so with the Mission Consulting's recommendation of $28 to $32 million we don't want to just follow that and say, okay, that is the limit, that is exactly what the costs are going to be.
275 We need to do more work on that. And we don't want you to put specific numbers on it at this point.
276 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So just to be clear, the number I was looking for was -- just pulling numbers out of the air -- but would .10 cents a month or .25 cents or .50 cents a month be too much in terms of imposing a hardship on ordinary Canadians to support VRS?
277 Like, where would the limit be or have you given that a thought?
278 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Well, if you look at the Bell Relay service surcharge I think that is something like .13 cents a month. And so, you know, we could look at that model and try to develop a similar surcharge for access.
279 You know, everyone wants to support accessibility. I mean, our aging population needs things to be accessible. But those things benefit all of us. So I think we would need to look at setting up a formula. Bell Relay has their .13 cent surcharge for that service. And I think that you would need to look at what the best formula would be without having too much of an impact on people.
280 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
281 I am just going to ask you with respect to the availability of interpreters as they develop. And you mentioned in your comment this morning about the video remote interpreting service that you provide.
282 And I just wonder if you could tell us a bit more about that service and if it would be possible that the interpreters working in that area could be redirected and used for video service relay to help out with that transition?
283 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Video remote interpreting and remote CART services are two areas that we have some experience in.
284 We have recently also added Skype to our scheduling centre services. With CART, that service has been growing so quickly. We have contracts with a number of different vendors who provide the real-time captioning services.
285 The video remote interpreting, we have a contract with police, Tele-Health, and we have high security systems for that, and demand for that is increasing. So we have been able to manage our resources to meet that demand.
286 Booking interpreters through Skype, which has been implemented at our scheduling centre, has been increasing incredibly. Our challenge of course is that, you know, the number of requests are increasing, but availability of interpreters is still a challenge.
287 We do have in our statistical information reports of how many requests, how many filled, how many unfilled.
288 In our video remote interpreting program we also do some work with TD Bank. Certainly that can be transferrable to VRS, it just needs the addition of a telephone. In our call centre we have work stations setup which have dividers and we have phones and screens. That kind of setup is pretty easily done.
289 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: What I am gathering is that there is a demand for that service and you wouldn't be able to reduce or make available from that service to assist with the VRS because it is fully employed by the sound of it. Is that..?
290 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes. But keep in mind we have 216 interpreters in Canada who are providing services to the United States.
291 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Right.
292 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): So that is 216 interpreters here that we don't have access to.
293 If we setup VRS, is setup in Canada, many of those interpreters will move to the Canadian VRS system. And certainly in the LSQ field they do recognize that there is a great need for capacity building.
294 In English and ASL, as Sheila talked about, we do have places for those interpreters to grow and develop and we do need to increase our capacity. And certainly, as demand increases supply will increase.
295 You know, it is like right now, we don't have enough doctors or we, you know, don't have enough nurses. And that supply and demand system is a constant struggle and we have to make the best use of our resources to build our capacity.
296 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Can you just maybe briefly help me out here? I don't quite understand. What will VRS offer that this service here, this video remote interpreting or your Skype service that you just referred to offer us? Like, what will be the enhancement that VRS will offer?
297 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): The video remote interrupting just point-to-point interpreting. So the interpreter is in a booth and the link would be to a hospital or to a bank to a video setup there. There is no telephone involved. There is no telephone conversation with a third party.
298 So it's a very different system. So there is no calling someone in that system.
299 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And what about the Skype, would that be..?
300 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): We use Skype in our call centre here in Ottawa. We have 12 agents working. But clients call through Skype and it is not the best system, but that is the best we can afford. But people use that to call into our scheduling centre.
301 We do have several staff who use sign language and so they can take the information where the deaf person needs an interpreter, what time, et cetera, check the database, see if an interpreter is available, arrange for an interpreter to go to whatever appointment the deaf person needs the interpreter for.
302 MS JOHNSTON: But the Skype system that we are talking about is actually a booking system. So the person sitting at the Skype desk is just taking the request and then contacting the interpreters and filling them and sending them to the site where the person has the doctor's appointment or whatever.
303 So we are not using Skype as a means of remote interpreting.
304 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, I understand. Thank you.
305 I wanted to ask you a question. I noticed in your submission, this is with respect to 911, that your position is that 911 shouldn't be implemented, as I understand it, on the VRS system until we reach the point of 24/7 operation.
306 And it just struck me as odd, because I thought that even if it was available 12 or 14 hours a day, the VRS users would surely understand the limitation and it would be more accessible and better for them to use the VRS process to reach 911.
307 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Really, in terms of resources and infrastructure we don't have the NG911 yet. But it is important to keep in mind that when the VRS system is setup it needs to be compatible with the 911 system so that, in the long-term, it would be cheaper. Right now that infrastructure is not there. And we are very pleased that the decision has recently been made to setup that system.
308 So when you make the decision to setup VRS, keep in mind that it needs to be compatible with the 911 system.
309 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): I think we need to be phasing things in. We can't have everything on day 1. We will have regional limitations, we will have technological limitations. You know, we need to look at setting up profiles for consumers.
310 We need to know if, you know, whether our interpreters will be able to handle emergency-type interactions, maybe mental health or personal safety issues. We will need to look at training for interpreters how to handle emergency calls. We need to have higher standards for that than just regular phone calls.
311 So, you know, we need to consider all of the complexities of the issue. But deaf people want to be able to call 911 in their first language, not struggling to type it in English on a TTY, to be able to say, my husband or my wife is having a heart attack, I need help now.
312 And it is often a very emotional time when people are calling 911. And for deaf people whose first language is not English or French, the struggle to type that can be a barrier. So they need to be able to express that in their first language in sign language.
313 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: And I think I understand that. I think I just read in the submission that you would wait -- I understand the phase-in that you are talking about.
314 So if we were in a position to handle the 911 calls appropriately for 12 hours a day and the VRS was only operating 12 hours of the day, I am just pulling that number out of the air. But if we were in a position to offer it for 12 hours and you'd want us to do that. And as soon as we could do that, obviously the 24/7 --
315 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Yes.
316 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes.
317 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you.
318 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Exactly.
319 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you.
320 So on page 23 of your submission you suggest the initial rollout of VRS should be multiple Canadian ASL and LSQ interpreter agencies rather than a commercial VRS provider.
321 And so we would just like to understand your position on that and how that would be coordinated for a national provision of service and also who would be responsible for the technological platform?
322 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Really, the national organization would need to be established to establish the platform and then to work with service providers. You know, maybe one place one vendor has 10 interpreters. But they would use the same platform.
323 We don't want to have a number of different platforms because we want one platform that is compatible with different access devices. And we would want to have a registration process to make sure that all vendors would be operating the same platform.
324 You know, for example, text. For text users there are standards in place to make sure they are all compatible. Internet providers, telephone providers they all have standards to make sure that they are compatible. We also need that for video, for the video relay service.
325 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. I just didn't understand the distinction between multiple Canadian ASL and LSQ interpreters versus a commercial VRS provider. I just didn't understand how that would work, how it is an either or.
326 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Well, there are freelance interrupters who operate their own businesses. There are non-profit agencies. And I think it is important that once the governance board is established that they would establish contracts with both non-profit agencies and businesses.
327 The RFP process should be open to anyone who can meet the requirements established by the governance board. So there will be a number of requirements set.
328 There is, you know -- there is some concern about, you know, interpreters being taken from the community.
329 You know, for example, right now, there are 216 interpreters working for American vendors. So we need to have a balance between interpreters being provided to the community and to VRS.
330 So we need to work with all of the stakeholders to establish a registration process -- to establish regulations so -- for example, the non-profit organizations have close ties to their communities. They understand the need.
331 They know how to balance the needs of different parts of the community.
332 We certainly have seen many instances of interpreters being taken away from community interpreting to work for these American vendors. I think our non-profit agencies have a better understanding of how to keep that balance so that needs are met on both -- in both areas.
333 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
334 It's interesting you mention the number of Canadians that are working for the American VRS system. It makes me wonder, given the length of time that it's been in existence, why, in the United States, as large a country as it is, they don't -- haven't developed their own adequate supply of interpreters.
335 Do you have any idea why that would be?
336 I mean, because it speaks to, are we going to be able to do it and in what timeframe are we going to be able to do it in?
337 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think it's important that CRTC work with Industry Canada in terms of allowing those -- the VRS centres -- there are VRS centres in Canada providing services to the United States currently.
338 CRTC has no oversight over that, but Industry Canada might be the place to talk to because they approve those things being set up. And there should have been some discussion with them over allowing that and perhaps reducing the impact that it had on deaf consumers in Canada.
339 The FCC in the United States and the CRTC, perhaps, could come to some kind of arrangement to share interpreters so we could do some cross-border arrangements. But we would prefer to have, you know, made in Canada because interpreters in Canada understand our culture here in Canada.
340 We need to develop our capacity and our resources.
341 MS JOHNSTON: And just in response to the issue of why have they come up here and why are they -- can't they find enough Americans, I don't -- I don't know that the system has always attracted some of the American interpreters and the retention and recruitment has maybe not been as optimal as it should, which is why they maybe have come here.
342 I think that's why you want to look at a model that allows -- that looks very much at what are the -- what are the issues that will attract interpreters and retain them so that you're not having to go out of country to fill a need, that perhaps it's not that there are many interpreters in the United States. They just don't all choose to work in that environment.
343 And so you would probably want to do some of that research to see what makes this a valuable place to work so that you're not going out of country to service that.
344 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That's helpful.
345 The -- just on the -- it's back to confidentiality.
346 One of the submissions suggested that it would be acceptable to breach the confidentiality between the VRS operator and a caller if the caller was planning a crime or discussing suicide with other than a mental health counsellor.
347 And we were just wondering what your views might be on that example.
348 MS JOHNSTON: Because we do provide interpreters in the community, we do have legal advice on that and, in fact, the interpreter, unless they're under the confidential cloak of a lawyer or, I believe, doctor, they do not have an obligation to disclose that.
349 Sometimes, however, as with social workers, there could be policies that are put in place where that's an understanding and an expectation, that as long as the caller understood that at the outset.
350 So I think that those are some of the policies and procedures that you would probably want to work with your advisory committee and with stakeholders. But there would not be a legal obligation, and so you would want to actually safeguard for that and make sure that consumers were aware of what were the limitations of any call.
351 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Do you have guidelines in place now that would address a situation like that?
352 MS JOHNSTON: Not -- because we don't provide that type of over the phone service, no, we don't. And in the case of our remote interpreting, mostly there -- the consumer is, for example, at the -- in the health centre and so on, so there are policies there that govern that.
353 And so this would be a unique situation, and I'm sure that there may be such policies in current VRS systems in other places.
354 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So something that needs to be developed. Okay. Thank you.
355 So now, as you know, the models are very important. And we had submitted two -- we set out two possible ones in the Notice of Consultation. And I see in your submission that you came back and compared them and said the sections that you agreed with, or didn't, on page 22 to 4 or so of your submission.
356 And today, again, you're very clear in your view.
357 I just wonder if I could just maybe discuss -- I don't know in the end how much different these are than what you've said, but we do have a couple more models that we were looking at. And none of them, as I understand, are the definitive model at this point. It was just all evolving. So if you just bear with me.
358 A third possibility could be a hybrid model with obligations still placed on the LECs and subsidized through a centralized fund. The TSPs would be required to contribute to a national contribution fund and some or all of the LECs would be responsible for the provision and would be required to file a tariff. And the fund administrator would pay the amount that was approved by the Commission for providing the service.
359 So I would be interested in your comments on this because this would involve the LECs being responsible for the provision of the service.
360 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think it's important that the governance entity investigate the different models that are available, whether it's a hybrid or a surcharge, whatever. I don't -- I don't have a definitive answer to give on how VRS should be provided.
361 The information that I shared with the Commission is just a bare beginning.
362 And when we look at the recommendations from Bell Canada, we support those recommendations for a centralized funding model.
363 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. So then if I'm -- I'm taking away from what you're saying is that we would probably have to have another process to actually determine the finite points here to involve all the different agencies, industries, organizations that represent the deaf interpreter organizations to determine a model.
364 You don't have a definitive model at this point to recommend, is what I understood you to say.
365 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Yes, that's right.
366 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
367 Those conclude my questions. Thank you.
368 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Shoan?
369 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good morning, and welcome.
370 I have a few quick questions based on some of the presentations you made today.
371 With respect to your oral presentation, you made a reference to public VRS booths. So my question is, is that akin to a pay television -- sorry, a pay phone booth? How would that function? Where do you envision them being placed?
372 Could you give me a bit more information about that?
373 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Yes. I know in the United States they do have public VRS booths in strategic locations, for example, in an agency serving deaf and hard of hearing people or a public space in a federal government building or in a library. Places, you know, where they have computers, et cetera.
374 So really, a VRS booth may need -- require -- may need to be negotiated with agencies or places. Maybe HRDC offices or federal government offices might set up booths to provide services in a community.
375 One example, for example, when they set up TTYs at public phone booths, they did two in Toronto, maybe three. The airport, the Skydome, Union Station. For me, as a consumer, to go to one of those places is a big effort.
376 I think that we need to establish them in places that are accessible to everyone. It could be in organizations that serve deaf and hard of hearing people like CHS or the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
377 I know there's a cost involved in that, but there may need to be funding through the VRS organization in order to pay for those.
378 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
379 In relation to the question from my colleague, Commissioner Duncan, about a centralized fund, I take your point that you're not an expert in that area and you don't have a definitive opinion on it. But as a general statement or a question, do you favour a separate VRS fund to administer this type of service, or do you have any opposition or conceptual problem with expanding the national contribution fund?
380 It's a simple question in terms of a separate fund or an expansion of an existing fund.
381 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think both the national contribution fund right now, a surcharge is another option. Shared costs by the telephone and internet service providers may be in the future, other service providers.
382 I think it's just important that the costs be shared.
383 The important thing is that the funding be centralized and that everyone chip in somehow. Not separate funding from each place, but all of the funding needs to be pooled.
384 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
385 I'd like to ask you about the potential platform that would be used. And I note in your submission you referred to having one video protocol.
386 I guess in terms of a broader question, do you favour a platform that would be more focused on end wire hardwire? Do you prefer or would you propose a solution or a platform based more purely on software, a combination of the two?
387 Do you have a perspective on that?
388 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Really, we know of a few platforms that are out there in the community. We've seen a few.
389 The best fit for the Canadian VRS market, we don't know. We have an opportunity to learn from the United States and the mistakes that they've made. They've got some proprietary systems, and some are not accessible to all devices.
390 For example, the iOS devices, they have Face Time. That's not compatible with Android or PCs. So the video platform has to be compatible with all of them, so we need to establish one protocol because, you know, perhaps a consumer has an iPhone and someone else may use a PC. Someone else may have an Android device.
391 So don't forget that some of those people will also be using their device or their access for point to point communication.
392 It's important that -- to note that we support the 10-digit number so that everyone has their 10-digit number and so they can be contacted directly as opposed to through the service, and so that 10-digit number we can use to access VRS or -- to access VRS to communicate with anyone that we can't communicate with directly.
393 So you know, we've got iOS, BlackBerry, Android, PC, Mac, all of those standard platforms. And we need to be compatible with all of those.
394 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
395 At paragraph 35 of your submission, you indicate that current internet packages are not adequate for fluid visual communication.
396 I wanted to ask you on what basis you're making that statement. Is it based on anecdotal evidence, is it based on experience with specific providers in specific markets?
397 Could you give me a bit more information about that?
398 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Well, we're talking from personal experience. We have people who are -- complained to us about the video quality. You know, we're really not there yet in terms of having access to the appropriate bandwidth or upload/download.
399 This process has to be efficient because we need to be able to sign comfortably and naturally.
400 We don't want -- we won't accept dropped calls to 911, for example, and so we can't accept dropped calls for VRS, either. We need to make sure that we have minimum -- set minimum requirements and make sure that those requirements will meet the needs of consumers.
401 A basic internet package, depending on who the vendor is, may or may not be enough.
402 And also, there's day to day variation in terms of traffic. If you call at 12 o'clock and it's a very busy time of the day and your -- you may not get your video quality being adequate. Your upload/download times may affect the quality as well.
403 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
404 So to your point about quality of service, what do you view as the appropriate standards to be put in place?
405 I note in your submission you referred to the FCC standard of 80 percent of calls being answered in 120 seconds. Is that something you feel should be imported to Canada, or do you feel it's something that should be left to a third party VRS administrator if and when one is selected?
406 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think once the national governance entity is established that they will need to establish what the acceptable level is.
407 I don't think we need to go by everything that's been done in the United States. We can use that for information, but we can depend on our own expertise and our Canadian experience to look at what an acceptable standard would be.
408 We wouldn't leave it to a third party. We think the national entity needs to establish the minimum acceptable requirements and make those the standards.
409 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
410 And lastly with respect to platform, what ancillary services do you feel would be necessary as an add-on to a VRS platform in terms of video mail, call waiting?
411 Are those the basic ones that should be there, or do you feel there should be others? Do you feel that others are more important?
412 Do you have any view on that?
413 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Well, a question for you, what basic phone service do hearing people have?
414 So people have telephones with answering machines inside. They may not have call display. They're options that people can have.
415 I think having the availability of a video answering machine has high priority.
416 Other add-on services, I don't know what all hearing people have on their phones, what other services they have. But I think, as a minimum, we need to have the same.
417 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And of course, the hearing population pays an additional fee to access those ancillary services, so do you feel it would be appropriate to charge an additional fee for such services as well, if they involve VRS?
418 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): The point is that it needs to be fair. And the national governance body would need to decide what a fair fee would be.
419 It needs to be affordable, you know, for -- you would benefit from using the service. There may be an optional -- whatever optional services there are, a fee for those. But we need to make sure that our consumers can afford to use this service.
420 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
421 I noticed one amongst many of the documents you circulated for your presentation this morning was this pamphlet with respect to the Ontario Interpreting Services.
422 And I noticed on this pamphlet there's a section with respect to emergency interpreting service, and it provides emergency interpreting services with respect to medical, mental health, police and child welfare emergencies only, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
423 So my question to you is, is this primarily a service offered only in Ontario? Is it available in other communities?
424 How do you -- how is it staffed? How is it funded? And would this type of service be an appropriate substitute or placeholder service in the event that the phased-in approach by Mission Consulting were to be adopted prior to a 24/7 service being adopted across the country?
425 MS JOHNSTON: This is currently in Ontario only because it flows through the Ontario Interpreter Services, which provides interpreters only in the Province of Ontario. And it is on-site interpreting, so it's not remote interpreting, for the most part.
426 And it's staffed by freelance interpreters who are currently registered with Ontario Interpreter Services.
427 So it would probably continue to run even with a VRS service because this is somebody's been in a car accident and the interpreter goes to the emergency ward. So that would never be replaced by VRS anyway.
428 So they're similar in terms of the emergency aspect of it, but it's very different in terms of the interpreter actually being on site. And so they call a call centre, and they say, "I'm on my way to the hospital", and the interpreter gets in their car and goes.
429 It is, however -- and it's funded in the same fashion that Ontario Interpreter Services is. We get funding specifically for afterhours emergency service interpreting.
430 And it is, however, dependent upon the regions and availability of interpreters in those regions.
431 So in some cities, you may have full 24 hours. In others, we are dependent on whether the interpreters are available that evening to go to the assignment.
432 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. That's very helpful.
433 My last question is with respect to education and outreach.
434 In the event that implementing or mandating a VRS service is deemed necessary, how -- in your view, what would be the most appropriate way of educating deaf and hard of hearing people with respect to the existence of such a service and what would be the most effective way of conducting outreach?
435 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I think it's important that everyone needs to be involved in the outreach effort. We need some kind of technical support to be established. We need information to be provided.
436 People in school, young people in school may not know what it's about.
437 The general public needs to know what it's about. And in terms of developing an outreach strategy, that would be the national governing body.
438 So people who would be involved in developing that would be consumers, interpreters so they would have to look at what's the minimum information that needs to be conveyed.
439 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): Yes, I would agree with that. But I think a hybrid approach can be done going to individual community events, posting videos online, online chats.
440 There needs to be online support. We need -- we would support the idea of hiring deaf people to be our online tech support for VRS. So they would be able to click on a button and they would have a deaf person help them through whatever technical issue they're having with VRS.
441 But the governing body would need to -- have to make some decisions about how to do that.
442 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): It's also important to have some research development looking at the potential of future technologies, you know, to ensure that the quality is maintained in the VRS service and to keep tabs on technological developments.
443 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, great. Those are my questions, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
444 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson?
445 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much. I'll try to be brief.
446 In the hearing world, we have conversations and those conversations are often augmented by textual pieces of information. And what I'm trying to understand is, from the submissions we've had, it's looking like the creation of a Video Relay System will eliminate the need for any type of text or message relay system.
447 And my question is, to an individual whose first language is sign language, is text of any use in a blended format with Video Relay, or does text completely go away?
448 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Again, well, if you look at hearing people, people depend on sound.
449 Many hearing people are using text more and more. You know, they use their Blackberries to text messages back and forth. And hearing people are comfortable using both of those.
450 Deaf people are generally more comfortable in sign language, and our preference is for sign language. But text won't disappear. Text needs to be available as well.
451 So we have -- we recognize four groups who need different kinds of supports; culturally deaf people, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing.
452 Some need spoken language, some need text. Some need sign language.
453 We wouldn't eliminate sign language and have them just use text or eliminate text and just use spoken language. That's the wonder of living in a diverse nation like Canada.
454 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): And with the aging population, as older people lose their hearing, they will continue to use MRS because they're not the -- they're not learning sign language.
455 Those people who lose their hearing later are not sign language users, and they will continue to rely on text. So we don't want to eliminate that at all.
456 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So a call centre that is VRS operational has to be a text relay centre as well, or should there be a separate -- or should we be continuing a separate text message relay system as it exists now?
457 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): Again, I think this is something for the governing body to look at, you know, could we have a blended call centre.
458 But they have somewhat different functions. Like I don't know, can you blend a heart specialist and a family doctor? Can you have a blended person who would be a family doctor who does heart surgery? I don't know.
459 There are different functional requirements for those two things.
460 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My question was coming from an area we have to look at, which is the possibility that a VRS system would not, at least in the initial stages, be a 24-hour a day operation. And I'm trying to understand to what level profound or completely deaf people rely on text messaging or text relay as part of the communication suite that you would have available.
461 MR. HARDMAN (interpreted): I think we need both. I use VRS at home. Sometimes my wireless connection is not very strong and, you know, if I'm stuck on the road in traffic, I can't use VRS.
462 So in those situations, I would switch to text. And so for me, sometimes it's situation specific which mode I use.
463 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
464 My last question has to do with some of the TELUS trial that revealed that about 70 percent over the period of the trial -- 70 percent of the calls were person to person or point to point. And it seemed to be consistent with the experience of the United States.
465 So my question is, if the addition of VRS into Canada allows deaf people to communicate on an essential basis, removing hardship, if that technology also allows them to communicate, let's say, with friends and family who are not with a disability, but adopt the technology so that they can have a better communicative relationship with you, who should pick up the cost for that technology and its use other than with the individual who is deaf?
466 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): I don't know. Who should pay for elevators? Who should pay for the captioning chip in televisions?
467 Everyone benefits from those things. I think it's the same -- the same principle. We'd need to share the costs.
468 VRS does benefit everyone. And once the community becomes aware that that service is available, their use of the service will increase. And so it's to the benefit of everyone.
469 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But ostensibly, if everyone in a collective universal payment system, does that mean that they all should have video phones and able hearing people are also able to communicate with other able hearing people as well?
470 I mean, the system -- the cost to this could run away.
471 MR. MALKOWSKI (interpreted): The governing body would have to look at what the resources are and to make decisions about how those resources would be spent.
472 We're not here to recommend spending piles of money. We certainly recognize that, over time, technology gets cheaper.
473 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
474 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your submission, and we will now break for 15 minutes and return at 11:30.
--- Upon recessing at 1111
--- Upon resuming at 1149
475 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Order, please.
476 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of the Toronto Association of the Deaf.
477 Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
478 Thank you.
479 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Good morning, Commissioners, and interested persons participating in this hearing today.
480 The Toronto Association of the Deaf thanks you for the opportunity to stand before you to discuss the need to open technological access to everyone, not just those among the privileged.
481 The Toronto Association of the Deaf was founded 84 years ago in 1937 and over the years the underlying goals have been to unify and promote the rights, living standards and wellbeing of deaf people.
482 An Ontario provincial review that was taken in 1992 states that there's an estimated 10 percent of the Canadian population that had a hearing loss and they also reported that over 70,000 individuals are deaf or hard of hearing in Ontario alone.
483 With change in society, the Toronto Association of the Deaf has had to adapt to these changes in demographics and the trends and changes in society have also greatly impacted us and that's why we are here today to present a single voice representing deaf Torontonians.
484 I would like to now speak about four different areas to you, to the Commission. With these changes in trends, society has adapted without any restrictions or obstacles. The technology and communications boom has brought more options and the CRTC has done a very good job in ensuring that we have universal platforms and protocols.
485 But the CRTC needs to act in four different areas. The first is to allow for meaningful communication by means of mobile phones, Skype, ooVoo, internet communications and making them interoperable with VRS.
486 Secondly, we would like to see an increase of consumer choices. We've spoken about that before. We still need to use text relay services. For instance, if someone -- if I'm in the shower, I'm obviously not able to answer that phone call through video relay, I wouldn't be dressed appropriately to make or to receive a phone call like that, or perhaps if I'm on the road, or an individual is dealing with a hearing loss, we obviously still need to see text relay services available. There will always be a need for those services.
487 Thirdly, we need quick, easy and convenient telecommunications access; in other words, we don't want to be stuck to a land line. Currently, if an individual is using a TTY, they're not able to do so on the move.
488 And, fourthly, we need to see an increase to empowerment and employability. We would like to see deaf individuals increase their prospects for employment, be more attractive to employers and see an increase of interaction between deaf individuals and the hearing population.
489 So, those are the four areas that we would like to expand on in our presentation today.
490 As you can see in this slide, it's representing three different ways that calls can be made. The first way is if an individual is making a voice call that can be done spontaneously, directly anywhere at any time, there's no issue and an individual can express themselves, their tone is present, they can express happiness or sadness and that can be done on a voice call.
491 The second panel we see a call that is made through TTY or text relay service and that has shown to be approximately three times longer than a voice phone call.
492 And this is problematic because the language barrier is present and, as well, those cues in a conversation that an individual would hear is lost. It would be more like if you were to hear a conversation that's monotone.
493 If I were to call someone and say, "Happy Birthday" and do so through the TTY, the text relay service I'm not able to communicate that tone in the way I would if I was able to do that through a video relay service.
494 And then the third panel we see video relay calls represented there. There's no lag time in a call like that, we can interrupt one another, there's no issues with language or expression, I can do so in American Sign Language and I can also show those visual cues by means of sign language.
495 So, when you look at those three options, clearly video relay service is equally functional to a voice phone call.
496 And, so, I think, before I continue on with my presentation, I'd just like to tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Australia. Before coming to Canada I lived in the United States for approximately 30 years. I moved here to Canada about two years ago.
497 I have run both for-profit and non-for-profit businesses and I have a wealth of experience in doing so. At the time though when I began running these businesses there no text relay services available at that time. I had a TTY, so I subscribed to what was called a private telephone service. So, what I would do is I would, using a phone number, I would only be able to pick up messages that individuals would leave for me there at that answering service, I guess you can say.
498 And then with time text relay services came into play and, so, I could receive phone calls that way. So, there definitely was an improvement, but with the internet boom, with the advent of the internet, often I would have people say to me, "Do you mind if I communicate with you via email?" But, clearly, it's not spontaneous, there's a lag time when it comes to sending emails to one another and for me that was a setback.
499 Speaking about the use of TTY and text relay services, the communication is interrupted in terms of time, there's a lag time. The operator would often say, "Just hold, please", because they're trying to convey the message to the individual I'm speaking with and either it's myself or the party to whom I'm communicating, if we have to hold onto our thought, the chances of us remembering everything we wanted to say is slim. So, there's a loss there.
500 As well, it's been clearly expressed to you that the use of text relay services requires the use of English and, so, that may not be best for some individuals. As I mentioned earlier, I may not be in a situation that would be appropriate to use video relay service and, so, using text relay service would still be necessary and still be a need in some situations.
501 Referring to the situation in the United States regarding the use of TTYs, it's actually become more and more obsolete, which we're seeing in Canada as well.
502 On this slide you'll see, this is a notice from Texas, a service in Texas notifying individuals that they would be closing their TTY line and this was because of the decrease in demand, the decrease in volume of calls via TTY. On the back of my bank card there's a TTY number there, but if you were to try to make that phone call, there's no answer, it's been cut. So, the demands, the use of TTYs have decreased and, so, as well there's the issue of maintenance and so on and so forth.
503 And, so, the question that comes up is which is easier for an individual, if we have one telephone number to give them, which we would if we were using video relay service, or giving them two numbers, which we would have to do if we were using text relay service, which is easier, more convenient.
504 In July, 2005, it was confirmed in a report by the Canadian Human Rights Commission which was entitled "No Answer Report", and one of the recommendations was to constantly assess new developments in communications technology, and so, this would clearly apply to VRS.
505 We do need better and improved technology. What we're using right now is obviously not optimum.
506 Going back to the same slide that we saw earlier, the three different ways of making a phone call, the first panel, when an individual is making a voice call what do they do, they just have one phone number, they are able to give their friends and family or businesses that phone number. If you want to include your phone number on your resume, you just have one phone number to include.
507 The second panel on the slide, this is currently what a deaf person would have to go through, we'd have to -- if we wanted to include on our resume a way to contact us through a phone number, we would have to include not only our home phone number, but the text relay service's number and explain that if you wanted to reach us they'd have to do it through a text relay service. So, what the hell do I do with that? Ninety-nine percent of the time I wouldn't get a phone call because it's too complicated, that's how others would view it.
508 And I know this for a fact, because many times I come home and I see on my call display that I've received many phone calls, but no message.
509 And if an individual wanted me to call them back, they could just leave a message and say, "Call me back, please" and do so through 711 or text relay service, but clearly they don't understand the concept because they don't ask me to do so.
510 And on to the third panel, this is the model that the Toronto Association of the Deaf is recommending and, that is, one dedicated phone number, 10-digit phone number and this would put a deaf person on equal footing with the person who is not deaf, you would only have one phone number to give to people to reach you and this is a phone number that you could have registered in the VRS database.
511 When I dial the phone number of the individual I wish to reach, the software automatically connects with an operator and it's automatically done, I don't have to give them the phone number that I'm trying to reach, it's done through the system.
512 Just like if someone calls me, they call me using that dedicated phone number, my 10-digit phone number and they're told, "Please hold for David Rosenbaum", and then immediately we're online with one another, speaking to one another. So, this is what I'm referring to when I speak of effective functional communication, equivalent communication.
513 I don't know if you can see this slide very well, but what I'm trying to represent is a very frustrating situation and, this is, when we encounter online forms, the first one is a form to -- it could be anything, it could be making an order, it could be applying for a service and, so, you can fill it out with all the relevant information needed, however, when you come to the field that requires a telephone number what do you do? It only accommodates one phone number, you have to follow a specific format of 10 numbers, but if you need to use or give them a text relay service's number, you're not able to do that.
514 The second form that we see on the right-hand side is also an application form to apply for the Toronto Maid Service and this is the same frustrating situation, is I've tried to put my phone number in there, including the text relay service's number and it's cut off. So, I'm not able to fill out this form. Again, it only allows and accommodates a 10-digit phone number.
515 So, when we have that 10-digit phone number for VRS, then we'll be able to fill out these forms accordingly.
516 We also have a social obligation here in Canada because Canada is among the countries that signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD. This is, of course, a Convention through the United Nations and Article 9 speaks of accessibility and it covers information and communication technology.
517 So, I respectfully ask the Commission to give consideration to this Convention that Canada has ratified and how it applies to VRS to allow deaf individuals to socialize on the same equal footing. It's a part of human dignity to be able to socialize and communicate with others. Currently deaf individuals are at a disadvantage.
518 I also wanted to emphasize the importance of increased consumer choices an individual can use, a pager, they can communicate through Skype, they have many options. Deaf people would like the same, we would like to have those options as well.
519 You'll notice listed the various platforms on this slide and the first list that we see on this slide, it's limited. We do have options, but it's limited, it doesn't allow for simultaneous communication which VRS would.
520 In considering setting up or establishing VRS in Canada, we need to consider the need for the platform on which it would be based. Currently you can buy any telephone and the sound platform would be the same across the world and, as well, the internet platform is the same and, so, what we are recommending is that the video platform be universal as well so that an individual, anyone can communicate with one another. And what I'm referring to is interoperability difficulties.
521 In the United States, if an individual has a particular video phone and is trying to reach a friend who has another video phone, a different type of video phone, they need to make the phone call in a different manner, in a different way. So, we're recommending that this be considered and this be avoided. So, we're recommending one single platform for all VRS operations and we require interoperability among all consumer choices.
522 And, so, again I want to emphasize the fact that Skype and ooVoo are not ideal because now there are different versions of Skype that requires me to plug in my headset and then, if I do so, then I'll be able to see visually the person that I'm speaking with. I have to see them visually in order to sign to them, but in order to do that, I need to plug in my headset.
523 Now, as a deaf person, I don't own a headset. I have to borrow a headset from my partner and just leave it there permanently plugged in to be able to communicate and sign language with another person. So, I have concerns about the software. I think it is something that should be factored in when we consider the platform on which VRS would be based to allow production of a video phone devices, to consider the design.
524 So, what I'm asking here is to apply the same criteria that is used when considering sound platform or internet platform, so, likewise with the video platform.
525 We're requesting one dedicated phone number and a schedule of 24/7. If the hours of the service is limited, that is not full access; 24 hours, seven days a week, it's very important. And I caution having a skeleton staff working late at night.
526 Sometimes in my work I need to make a phone call to different countries and their time zone is different and, so, it might be an odd time of day for me to make that phone call, but I need to do so in order to reach them. So, we need to have that service fully staffed 24 hours a day, seven days week.
527 So, we need to consider that one phone number, the speed of the system, this will enhance a deaf individual's opportunity for employment-enhanced relationships, within the family. Clearly VRS would be used for many different reasons, many different purposes, not only for family and work, but be involved and included in the community, for public services, and for education. There are many benefits as outlined here in this slide.
528 The speed and convenience is one of them, it's accurate, its ease of use, an increased rapport, so much better. The difference is incredible between using or speaking with someone through VRS service as opposed to text relay service.
529 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry. You have one minute left to conclude, please. Thank you.
530 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Thank you.
531 And, so, clearly the access, the pathway to the world would be increased and expanded and, again, one phone number would be all we would need.
532 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): And, so, the ramifications, the impact on deaf individuals would be huge, would be great, they'd be able to be independent, get information on their own, pursue their interests and interact with others.
533 So, in conclusion I have three recommendations as we see on this slide, that the CRTC implement a national bilingual VRS as a mandatory service operating 24/7. Secondly, the CRTC issue regulations requiring TSPs and video suppliers to provide a single video platform that meets VRS requirements for interoperability and compatibility.
534 And, thirdly, that CRTC recognize and affirm that all voice calls, texts, emails and video calls as functionally equivalent communication and provide equal access to the benefit of all people.
535 Thank you.
536 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson will ask you some questions.
537 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning, Mr. Rosenbaum. Thank you very much for appearing before us today.
538 I'd like to get clarification, if you wouldn't mind, between a discrepancy I'm finding in your written submission where you're saying that:
"VRS should be used in place of any TTY or TTY or IP relay situation." (As read)
539 Your reasoning is that people whose primary language is sign language find that TTY is not an option, yet today I'm hearing you say that TTY or some type of message relay is still something that should be available to VRS users.
540 Now, could you help me understand?
541 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes. Thank you, that's a very good question.
542 Yeah, the submission that I gave to the Commission focuses on the need for VRS, however, I do want to say that text relay service is not a bad thing, however, it's not ideal. We do need -- at times it is a need to have text relay service around.
543 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I have to assume that you have a pretty good understanding of the dynamics of profoundly deaf and completely deaf individuals. What percentage of those two groups would you say use sign language or are in command of sign language? A hundred percent, 75, 50 percent; what percentage of the total, of that 30,000 we've been hearing about use sign?
544 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I don't feel that I'm an expert to answer that question. Sign language is a small portion of the wide community.
545 We have to remember that it's not just deaf individuals who are using the service, it's family members, it's individuals in the business community, it's the purposes to increase communication. There's all these groups of people that are communicating with one another, it's not just deaf people that is using the service.
546 COMMISSION SIMPSON: But my question was with respect to I think -- and I perhaps didn't state it too well -- what is the functional usability of text messaging at all? I'm not necessarily talking text relay, but email and other forms of text to an individual whose primary language is sign; is it a second language that they're having to adapt and work with or is signing really the only communication they wish to use?
547 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): If an individual is a sign language user and they are a native user to sign language, we must remember that sign language has its own syntax and grammar and, so, it does not work well when using a TTY.
548 However, when communicating, a deaf person whose first language is sign language, whose native language is sign language, if they're communicating through video relay service, this is the best option.
549 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. Thank you.
550 That question was related to mere observation of some other interveners that VRS is going to provide not only a more natural form of communication, but allow individuals to be able to more fully explore their viability in the workplace, become contributors to the system, improving their employment prospects.
551 But I am trying to understand is it that the only way that they would be able to work within their workplace would be through the purpose of sign language? Would they be at a disadvantage in not having written language skills?
552 I am trying to understand the threshold of the problem.
553 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): They may be literate, perhaps not. I don't think that is the issue.
554 The issue that we would like to focus on is the obstacle of getting employment. If I, as an individual, I am looking for work, I want to be able to make an impression on a prospective employer. I want the prospective employer to see me as likeable, as increasing my opportunity for work.
555 Two years ago, as I mentioned, I immigrated to Canada. And when I looked at how many deaf individuals were running their own businesses, in Toronto that number was very very few.
556 However, when I compare that to the United States, I couldn't even count. And in Toronto I couldn't even count on one hand how many individuals were running their own businesses and they were deaf.
557 So in other words, clearly there is great limitations to their access, to being able to explore opportunities in the City of Toronto because of that.
558 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: To be candid, I understand the importance in an employment interview, for example, to be able to put your best foot forward and have a relationship building exercise with a prospective employer.
559 But once you're in that workforce, are you then -- and this is off the technology issue, but more the ongoing communication between individuals -- every time that you want to communicate with someone in the workforce that you are working with you have to call a meeting or are most deaf people capable of also having a text written capability to be able to further their employment? That is really what I am getting at. I am trying to understand the limitations.
560 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I think you would have to consider the type of job, the employment itself. If an individual is working in a shop, for instance, it is very visual, it is very clear what the work entails. And you compare that perhaps to employment in an office environment.
561 An individual might need a bit of training. However, after that they can pick things up on their own by just absorbing what they see happening around them. They could use instant messenger, there is email, or perhaps even just writing manually to one another.
562 Deaf people tend to be very visual and pick things up very quickly. However, it is very dependent as well on the rapport that a person has with their employer, with their manager, and if the employer or manager views them as likeable.
563 But the primary issue is to find work in the first place. As you know, résumés/ applications are done rarely in person any longer, it has to be done online. And that, I go back to my issue with the phone numbers, you require one number when you have a video relay service, a dedicated number.
564 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. I very much appreciate you exploring that with me.
565 Back to the issues at hand. You have argued this morning for the CRTC to consider a single platform. And as I understand it is for the purpose of consistency, interoperability and so on.
566 Yet, you are also saying that we should be making sure that there is consumer choice by way of other technologies such as Skype, Facebook, FaceTime and the like.
567 So which is it? What is the core point you are trying to make? Is it a single platform or interoperability between platforms that is most important?
568 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): The point I am trying to make is that whether it is Facebook or FaceTime or Skype, they all need to be compatible with that video platform, so then they are therefore interoperable.
569 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, thank you.
570 You, in your written submission, had generally claimed that you are supporting Bell's feasibility study report in generality. But you vary from some of their other recommendations. They had called for a phased-in two-phased approach, taking somewhere between five and seven years to fully explore and research the technology, the costs and ultimately stage a rollout.
571 Yet, in your submission you are saying it should be 24/7 from the outset. Why is that?
572 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): When the Bell study first came out there were some, you know, things to be considered and it seemed like there might be a time -- there needed to be some time.
573 However, the CRTC's proceedings process was taking longer than we thought and so time was running out. And so now we feel like we need to speed up, we need to catch up in other words with technology. Technology today is moving fast, and so we don't want to fall behind.
574 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But then, is there still wisdom in dedicating this country to a single platform, a proprietary platform from a VRS provider, if indeed the video world is growing and becoming much more technologically effective? Are we doing the wrong thing by nailing down just one system and not looking at all systems?
575 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I'm not referring to one system. I'm referring to one platform. Perhaps additional features can be added to that initial platform. But that platform would allow a number of different systems to work together.
576 For instance, in the United States there is one company that provides sign mail. And that what means is you can leave a message there. Another company, on the other hand, does not provide that service.
577 With a single platform, we most likely can do the same thing as long as we are communicating and calling one another.
578 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But the vendors that are identifying themselves as being capable of being providers of a VRS operation are somewhat proprietary in their platforms. So that is why I am trying to determine exactly what you mean by the use of the word "platform."
579 One vendor is using communication protocol like H.323 and others even a more proprietary protocol. And everyone of them have different equipment and software solutions.
580 So I don't understand how one platform can be pursued when at the same time you are saying we should be opening it up for multiple vendors.
581 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I am not a technical person, so I will try to be very simple.
582 What I am referring to is a single platform that is flexible and that can accommodate a variety of different technologies. Perhaps I can call it a multifaceted platform, if you will, so it can be converted from Skype to OoVoo to what have you, to webcam and so on and so forth. And so that is what I am referring to when I speak of a single platform.
583 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Perhaps the term would be protocol, operating protocol as opposed to platform. Okay.
584 On the issue of --
585 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes, I think you are right.
586 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- Bell had also, through the Mission research study, prescribed a cap to the program, I think a figure of $30 million was used.
587 Do you generally agree with the idea of a cap, an annual cap for this service should it happen?
588 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): No, I do not. I realize that the cost of the service will need to be adopted and approved and absorbed, the true cost.
589 When you break it down and consider the number of Canadians, it is not that much. But when you consider that it needs to be used by those who are both signers and non-signers, the economic benefits of VRS will outweigh the initial cost of establishing it.
590 It will allow for more employment opportunities and more interaction with others and society and so forth. Those types of benefits is what I am referring to.
591 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Without the benefit of a phased-in learning experience as to what those costs and resources are or should be, what would you say if I was to suggest that from the trials in Canada and the experience in the United States that approximately 70 per cent of calls do not require an interpreter because it is a point to point conversation?
592 So how would you load up the system anticipating demand if we didn't phase it in and adjust the resources to determine what that demand should be?
593 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I am sorry, is your question referring to the 70 per cent users of video phone point-to-point calls? Is that what you are referring to?
594 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I am asking if you prescription to go 24/7 at the outset, how do we know what level of demand there will be at the outset unless we do a phased-in program?
595 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I imagine we can begin it at a -- I guess we can call it a basic service and then escalate it depending on the demand. It can grow and absorb, work through those growing pains I guess you could say. We understand that as business people that sometimes it requires effort when we build on something.
596 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Could you define what a basic service would look like?
597 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I am referring to two separate phone numbers; for an individual who is an ASL user would have one, and LSQ users would have their own. Two call centres for each language.
598 And that would cover situations such as an emergency, if an area has a localized power outage or there is some technical failure in someway, then we will have another backup centre is what my expectation would be for video relay service. I feel that it would make sense to have two separate centres in central Canada and they would be able to provide service nationally.
599 When a phone call comes into the centre it can be rerouted to another regional office is what I am envisioning.
600 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Just a few more questions, Mr. Rosenbaum.
601 If it were not for some reason feasible to introduce VRS on a 24-hour a day, 7-days a week basis, what is your opinion regarding message relay or IP relay being used in the period where VRS is not available, in that period of the day? Is this acceptable to you or is it workable as a phased in solution?
602 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes, because I do envision that message relay service will still be there regardless of when VRS is implemented. But as a businessman, I think of my time. My time is very precious. I don't have the time to make phone calls that take enormous amounts of time.
603 And the service, from my experience, message relay services are horrible. There is very little standardization, the quality of service is very poor. I feel, as a user, that it is very condescending as well. I see VRS as improved quality of service and inclusion providing more access to deaf individuals.
604 Today, when we consider message relay service, there is no input from the deaf community. If the deaf community tries to provide some input or feedback, they don't get a listening ear. It is a very difficult situation.
605 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Would that message relay or IP relay be acceptable or not to you if it had to be used for 911 services in the period where VRS is not available?
606 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): No. In fact, I don't know if they have the capability to take a 911 call. And even if they do, they certainly don't answer those phone calls quickly. I question the quality of service, the standard of service. In fact, I would call it very low.
607 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Would an emergency on-demand VRS option in those non-peak hours be a suitable alternative, but for emergency calls only?
608 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): When you say non-peak hours, do you mean at night? Is that what you are referring to?
609 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: If it was not feasible at the outset to be 24/7, but an alternative would be to have an emergency number for the time where VRS is not available for general purpose. Would an emergency number to a VRS operator be acceptable?
610 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): So if I felt ill or had a heart attack at 3:00 in the afternoon versus to 3:00 in the morning, would that make a difference in the outcome? Is that what you are saying? It is a very difficult question to answer. I mean, if you put it in context, an emergency is an emergency, regardless of the time. So, no, 24/7 is a must.
611 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. A few more questions and then I'm done.
612 On the issue of cost to a VRS user, you had said that VRS users should not pay for VRS calls or point-to-point calls. I am wondering if you could clarify. Do you mean entirely to not pay or is it acceptable to you that the cost for interconnection internet, if it is equivalent to a local exchange service, would be acceptable to a VRS user?
613 Is connection cost separate in your mind?
614 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): No. I see there would be a cost for a VRS user because they are using the internet. They are already paying for the internet. So regardless if you call it a surcharge, or whatever it is called, yes, there would be a cost and we would pay for that.
615 However, to make the phone call itself, that doesn't make sense, because the call is made via the internet. And there is no cost to that, especially now when we consider Skype, you can make a phone call anywhere in the world via Skype for free.
616 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But the highest cost translator is a cost. There is a cost to making a call?
617 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): True. But when I spoke earlier of absorbing that surcharge that is what I was referring to.
618 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My last question is to do with the funding models. If the Commission was to consider a collective universal funding model where all Canadians would contribute to this scheme, what is your opinion as to whether they should be aware of how much they are paying by way of the surcharge appearing on their bill from their provider? What is your opinion on that?
619 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes, I think that that charge should appear on their bill. I don't think there should be any hidden costs. They should know that there is a valid reason for the charge. I have no problem with that.
620 And as well, I think there is an opportunity for education there when the cost appears on the bill and they know what that charge is for.
621 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
622 Mr. Chair, those are my questions.
623 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Duncan?
624 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good morning -- I guess it is afternoon now. I just have two quick questions just for my own education.
625 In the example that you gave us where you are trying to phone the Toronto Maid Service. I guess I didn't understand.
626 So you have to dial two phone numbers to get the service because you have to go through the VRS?
627 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes, as of right now I do. I need to call either 711, the relay service number, and then give the operator there the phone number of the company or individual I am wishing to reach.
628 Now, should that company need to call me back, I need to give them not only my number, but I need to give them the 1-800 number of the text relay service. I need to give all those numbers -- I need to give the operator through whom I am speaking my phone number as well.
629 So, you know, when we consider the average person, would the average person understand why there is two different numbers?
630 But the slide that I had used in my presentation, that was not a phone call I was making, that was an online form I was trying to fill. But what I am trying to say is that the fields on that form do not accommodate more than one phone number.
631 So in other words, if I can't fill in that form according to the way they would like me to, how do they call me back? How do I reach them? How do they reach me?
632 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. I did understand you were trying to show that there wasn't enough room on the form. What I didn't realize was all the numbers that you had to dial in order to communicate your message. I appreciate that, thank you.
633 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Yes, that is right.
634 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: The other question I just wanted to explore with you is you mentioned that you envisioned separate offices for -- or maybe not separate offices, but two distinct operations for LSQ and ASL located in central Canada. And then they would go out to regional offices.
635 So can you just explain to me how that would work? Where would the regional offices be or..?
636 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): I don't believe I was referring to regional offices. What I was saying was that at the minimum, there should be two VRS centres; one as a dedicated ASL centre and the other an LSQ centre.
637 And the reason why I recommend at minimum two is because in the event of a storm or perhaps there is not enough interpreters at the centre because the weather is inclement, then some phone calls can be rerouted to that second centre to accommodate all the phone calls.
638 And another option is to contract interpreting services or video relay services through some interpreting agencies perhaps. That is another third option I would ask you to consider.
639 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So just to help me understand. Then if I was located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, how would I access the operator?
640 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): With a 1-800 number or with a VRS IP address or their number. And you would be directly in touch with an operator there, an interpreter there.
641 It really depends on the design, but you could enter the number of the person that you are wishing to reach. And so the system would automatically connect you to that third party that you are wishing to reach based on that phone number that you have given them. And they would also recognize who you are because there is a dedicated number to you as a user.
642 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much. I understand.
643 Thank you. Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman.
644 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just have one.
645 What happened in Texas when they shutdown TTY?
646 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): Well, the reason behind that decision was there was a reduced number of calls, the volume had reduced and they actually had a video phone and so were able to conduct point-to-point phone calls.
647 So for that reason they closed that line, the TTY line, and made their phone calls that way, through video phone. And so a deaf person can make the phone calls through that one number.
648 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I just want to clarify. What I understood you to say is that we should be looking at developing a single entry point for the deaf and heard of hearing community, that they can phone and access either video relay service or, if needed, a message relay service that they require. No?
649 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): No. No, I'm sorry. Let me explain or let me clarify that. I feel that the message relay service can be left as it is. We are really referring to apples and oranges here.
650 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, I think I --
651 MR. ROSENBAUM (interpreted): The infrastructure is very different and I feel they should remain separate, both the message relay service should be left as it is and video relay service established.
652 From what I understand, MRS or Message Relay Service, is done regionally. And so it wouldn't be setup, the design, it would be completely different.
653 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you. I just wanted to clarify my misunderstanding as it turns out.
654 Thank you very much.
655 Does Legal have any questions? No?
656 We will adjourn for lunch and return at 1:30. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1230
--- Upon resuming at 1331
657 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please, everyone and we will get under way.
658 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the presentation by the Ontario Video Relay Service Committee. Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes.
659 Thank you.
660 THE INTERPRETER: Could you do it again, please?
661 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the presentation by the Ontario Video Relay Services Committee. Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes.
662 MS MORELAND (interpreted): I am Susan Moreland and this is Jeff Beatty and Vanessa Floros.
663 First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here to present. You've heard that there are 35 million people in Canada and 10 percent, 350,000 would be deaf, deafened across Canada. Hard of hearing people, more than three million people with hearing loss of some sort.
664 The primary language used by deaf people is sign language, that is the primary language, then some spoken, some signed English, et cetera, but the primary language for culturally deaf people is sign language.
665 There is ASL and there is LSQ. Those are the two languages that are used by the deaf as opposed to English and French, the official languages. It's obviously a visual language. You can see my facial expression, my body language, my hands. It's very graphic. It's a 3D language.
666 Access to ASL and LSQ in every day usage would be a deaf person communicating with a deaf person, a deaf person communicating with a hearing signer. A student in a school program in an integrated situation would have an interpreter. In a deaf school, there would be complete emersion in sign language.
667 There is deaf communicating with ASL or LSQ interpreters. Deaf may be signing with their family members. Hearing people who know sign language can communicate with each other in sign language.
668 Every day usage for access for deaf people tends to be through the TTY Message Relay Services or captioned, we have TV captioning. We have Internet Relay to make calls. We have, you know, the web personal touch face to face communication.
669 There are a variety of communication programs, but many deaf people will say to their hearing family member: "Would you mind making a call for me?" "If somebody gives you a message, would you mind passing it on to me?" This has been going on for years, it's the same communication.
670 But really, what is missing? In all of this, there is something missing and what is it? We have communication, I just talked about all these different ways of communicating, but there are three simple words missing, three: Video Relay Service. It's missing.
671 It is a very important, a very valuable necessity for daily communication for deaf people, for hearing people, people who depend on sign language to communicate with a deaf person. It's not just deaf people. It's anybody who needs to use sign language to communicate with the deaf person. We are in the 21st Century and we need it.
672 And that's where we, the Ontario Video Relay Service Committee, BCVRS Committee, we worked together, we saw what they were doing and we wanted to be involved to support them in their activities and we felt we needed to share this information with Ontario.
673 We work together with the BC Committee. We depend on volunteers, it's grassroots community communication, we are empowering people with information to the grassroots of Ontario.
674 Our role in Ontario up till now has been to focus on advocacy for VRS accessibility across Canada. We have been collecting opinions and feelings and vision from the grassroots in terms of what they want for VRS services and we presented that.
675 We have sent out all kinds of information about technology, et cetera and as we collect it, we share it. We empower people with this information so that they can see what it is that they might need.
676 We have been in touch with the Ontario Deaf Community across the province for allies, deaf people, family members of deaf people for all of us to work together.
677 Our accomplishments to date, we have held Video Relay Service Awareness Days, we had one in Toronto, one in Gatineau and we had lots of people come.
678 I am sure you remember when we thanked you for all the wonderful work and the Accessibility Provisions that you have made for us and we are very appreciative of what you have done.
679 When you decided to post the intervention collection, the deadline, and you have extended that because we asked you to and you extended it to May 27th, we have set up 17 town hall meetings across the province.
680 We encouraged people to attend, we encouraged the grassroots to share their passion and their need for VRS Services. We established a website, we were like an information consumer group.
681 And so, that says it all. The deafs have spoken and we want VRS.
682 The importance of VRS is the expression in my language, the freedom to express is really important to us. There is technology available, it's there, but there are language barriers. With that technology, we can get rid of those barriers.
683 I am here, I am talking to you through an interpreter. Without the interpreter, you have got a barrier. Obviously, you've got the barrier. We are looking at the potential of empowering everyone to remove those barriers. That's important to everyone.
684 We want equal access to communication, we want equal functionality, that's important to us. There is a large economic benefit. You will give us an opportunity to be the individual that we are. We can get on with job opportunities, et cetera.
685 You already know what we have. We have TTYs, we have IP Relay, et cetera, for communication. Yes, we have all of these things, but it's not enough.
686 It does provide surface communication, surface accessibility, but not a real depth of language. Not the depth -- you know, you can have every day communication, but it would be very simple and very monotone in many ways, but ours is a visual language.
687 It is a very rich language and we need to be able to express that fully to you and VRS is the one thing that can provide that, compared to what we have now for our accessibility.
688 VRS accessibility can be anywhere, any time. If I want to call just to let you know, I don't know, maybe I want to make a lunch date and then we can chat up whatever we are going to talk about before we go out.
689 How often do you use your phone to phone somebody and deaf people have the same use of phone that you do, except it takes a long time on the TTY or the text message.
690 But when you phone somebody and you talk fluently and clearly with those people, there is no language barrier and we want the same thing to be able to communicate with people. We want equal access for deaf and hearing people, we want 24 hour access, that's very important.
691 Imagine a young hearing person with deaf parents and you've had your baby. It's two o'clock in the morning and you want to call your mum at 0200 in the morning and you can't. You have to wait till late in the morning. It's a barrier that's not fair. You have put a time barrier on our communication. It just shouldn't be that way, period.
692 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): When it comes to VRS technology, I should let you know that I have some experience with VRS users in the United States and the ability to use their mobile devices easily there.
693 So, the importance today to consider is interoperability between a video platform TSP providers and consumers as well as the mobile devices that we might be using.
694 The importance is to ensure that the device we are using is compatible with that platform. So, whether it's a Call Centre or 911, calling 911, the importance lies in having a 10 digit number, really that's an important thing to consider.
695 Video interoperability standards allows us to make a call. We can make two-way phone calls at any time, use our mobile device at any time, use our tablet or Mac or PC and whatever it might be with that 10 digit number and have that ease of communication that it allows.
696 Once I provide a 10 digit number for a person to reach me at, it can be done very easily because that is a dedicated number to me.
697 So, when we are speaking of interoperability, we are referring to H.323, SIP and H.264 technology and those applications, they provide for interoperability between SIPForum and that's the VRS Task Force as well as Open Visual Communication Conversion, the acronym of which is OVCC. And that working group and the task force are working together on that video interoperability.
698 And we are hoping to receive some news on the success of those two groups later this year. And so, I feel that we are closing in, we are getting close to that point.
699 I have been a mobile user for a while, but we have been blessed to have 4G and LTE because it allows for point of -- point discussions, point to point conversations and the ability to have these conversations any time, anywhere on par with an individual who might be using their mobile device to speak to someone.
700 And so, I feel that we are really blessed to have this technology, the 4G and LTE technology.
701 As well, it's growing. We are seeing it becoming more and more common and people who are able to access this technology have felt it to be a real blessing as well. So, we mandate 4G and LTE technology by the wireless providers, for wireless VRS users.
702 VRS should provide full mobile technology options or applications, whether it be an Android device, BlackBerry smartphone, regardless.
703 As well, again, video inter-operability and the 10-digit number. Those two -- those two items are very important as well.
704 In other words, there will be -- as well, there will be no throttling issues, and that will avoid any type of life-threatening situations or emergencies.
705 These devices should have mobile apps, desktop apps and browsers -- browser applications. These are essential in order to access VRS and point to point calls.
706 Just as a video phone can be connected to your television, video inter-operability and the 10-digit number are very important as well.
707 We expect not only a VRS call centre but as well as a 911 -- ability to contact 911 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
708 Of course, initially, we can understand that there might be some need for flexibility, an awareness that it might take some time for things -- for the service to expand and increase to its full capacity regardless of what that means, perhaps bringing in some resources.
709 We understand that there needs to be accessibility to emergency services and so on and so forth. And this would take time.
710 Once that VRS is established at full capacity, we would have the telecommunications necessary for all of us to enjoy.
711 VRS internet providers -- our recommendation is 20 megabytes per second, that speed, at minimum, to ensure quality of video experience, be able to communicate well in sign language through video if a person is trying to communicate with a family member regardless of their device.
712 We have found in our experience that 20 megabytes per second is the minimum in order to ensure a comfortable conversation.
713 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry. You have two minutes left. Please conclude.
714 Thank you.
715 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Okay, thank you.
716 So again, I would like to emphasize the need to avoid any situation that might incur -- where throttling might occur because of the possibility of an emergency. If there's throttling, then there's a danger there.
717 So we're recommended two to five years of monitoring to ensure that the infrastructure is set and things are under way and at full capacity.
718 We recommend that a bilingual VRS be approved as soon as possible and a central funding agency be established to allow equal access to VRS for both ASL and LSQ users.
719 MS MORELAND (interpreted): All right. We would like to have a -- we have a strong expectation that you will have a disability rights office established and that we would want to have the deaf representatives to be there because we need to explain to you in detail the needs of deaf people.
720 We -- when you were talking about the -- we would expect, as you said, the Ministry of Industry would be involved, et cetera, but we would like you to be sure to look at accommodating that request to have deaf representatives on the Board or whatever.
721 You need to involve OVRS committee and the other provincial committees to make sure that they are involved in the establishment of the VRS system once it's approved.
722 We are the consumers. We are the consumer end. We are the grass roots, and we will be the users. So we will be able to support and ensure the success and efficiency of the system along with the VRS providers, of course. But please, don't forget us.
723 Thank you very much for your time.
724 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Duncan will start with the questions.
725 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Good afternoon. I have, first of all, a couple of questions just coming out of your presentation.
726 And I notice on your slide at page 6 you talk about no throttling. But is throttling an issue today?
727 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Do you mean page 16, are you referring?
728 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Page 6. Sorry. That's on your notes today. It's the top slide.
729 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Perhaps you're referring to slide 16?
730 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Well, it's on the -- I'm sorry. I can't see a slide number. It's at the bottom of page 6, and it's the top slide on that photocopy.
731 Sorry. Yeah, that one there at the top. Yeah, thanks.
732 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Thank you. That's very helpful to have it in front of me here.
733 So on the issue of throttling, the reason why I mentioned throttling as an issue is because it does happen often in the United States with Time Warner Cable Company. They have spoken about the issue of throttling when they reach maximum data capacity.
734 And I'm not sure exactly where -- I believe it's in St. Louis. They have gone ahead and set up the throttling, but not realizing that there's a large number of deaf users there in that city and not realizing that they're using VRS there in that city. And so they've encountered this issue of throttling when they have been signing, communicating with someone through VRS and the picture is unclear and it inhibits their communication with the other person that they're speaking with.
735 And so this is a concern when we consider the possibility of emergencies occurring and throttling happening at the same time.
736 So we're talking about throttling to ensure that it's removed because they have done so in the United States.
737 If you can imagine, if I'm in the middle of the road and I have an emergency, a road emergency, and I'm not able to communicate through my mobile device because of throttling, this is a health and safety emergency issue and so this is why we're bringing it to your attention today.
738 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Also, to add to that, imagine if you're on a voice plan. That's good. You have X number of hours and you're getting close to the maximum, and you get to your 20 hours a month maximum. And you're in the 21st hour on your voice plan.
739 The quality of your phone call starts to break up on you and you have difficulty hearing. Imagine if that's what was happening to you. That would be your throttling.
740 And then, all of a sudden, you had to make a 911 call. Imagine if the operator couldn't understand you when you made that 911 call.
741 It's the same application in terms of throttling for us on our internet because we're visual, right. And so with the throttling happening, the signing isn't clear. It's dropped. It's -- the information is missing.
742 It's not complete. The interpreter may have to assume, the caller's starting to assume what the message is. And we shouldn't have to have assumptions in the message.
743 The communication should be clear. You might want to have assumptions for thoughts and those kinds of things, but not when you're trying to communicate a message clearly.
744 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
745 I think what we can do is follow up with the TSPs that are going to be here just to see what the state of throttling is in Canada today. Thank you for that.
746 The other thing I wanted to ask, it's at the bottom of that same page. And that is, I understand, of course, that you would like the service to be 24/7.
747 And -- but I expect you acknowledge that it's going to be a bit of a phase-in just simply because we don't have the interpreters available for the service. And there's obviously going to be some time for setup.
748 So I'm just wondering how long you think would be a reasonable time to reach the 24/7.
749 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Well -- would you like me to respond? Okay.
750 Based on the system itself, you know that there will be peak times, there will be off peak times. It's the same with your access to electricity. It's the same with VRS.
751 You could have a 24-hour service, but it would be sort of an elastic service so that you might have nine to five as your peak hours. That would mean you'd have more interpreters there and available at that call centre for those peak hours.
752 During the non-peak hours, you might have fewer interpreters, maybe 50 percent. And overnight, on the graveyard shift, you might have just a skeleton staff.
753 So you're -- the number of interpreters would expand and contract to provide the appropriate support services at the time when they're needed.
754 Of course, in the beginning, people may phone at a time when there's no interpreter available, but we could accept that.
755 The FCC has very strict protocol around how long you can wait for an interpreter, and that was why they have such a high demand for interpreters in the call centres.
756 But it's a new concept. We know it's going to get going, and people need to learn how to use VRS services on a gradual basis.
757 The first day that it's open, there are 35,000 deaf people who are going to be calling you at the same time, but we shouldn't expect that, really. We'd like to.
758 We know that, at the beginning, it will start gradually and people will adjust. But again, 24-hour service is very possible.
759 It's not any ands, ifs or buts. It is possible.
760 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So your position would be that it would be possible on day one if we staggered it in the manner you've suggested.
761 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes. Yes, for sure. Right. Of course. Exactly.
762 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
763 So now, some --
764 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I'd like to add something about 911. I'd like to impress upon you that the 911 VRS service is very important.
765 VRS is important, but in terms of balance, the VRS for 911 for emergency contact is most important.
766 Our community wants to work together. I know we want to, and we will in time.
767 My -- I was in the States in the beginning. The first VRS service wasn't 24/7. It grew and it expanded. But now we can look and see that it expanded. It became a 24/7 service and has 911 service.
768 But I want to impress upon you that we need to have 911 service from the outset. It's very important.
769 I know there will be some growing pains, some steps. But we will know and we will have a great service. We need that flexibility.
770 What we have, we'll use.
771 MS FLOROS (interpreted): I would like to also add something else to that question.
772 When you first set up the Bell relay service here in Canada, there was a lot of adjustment. It started slowly. People called and had to wait and wait for the service.
773 And I suspect it will be somewhat the same process. It will take a bit of time to get used to, but it will improve very quickly as we get using it.
774 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So just to be clear, then, you're not concerned or you -- I'm gathering that, in your opinion, the number of interpreters available today would be able to accomplish what you're suggesting.
775 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes.
776 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
777 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): For the accessibility study, the Mission Consulting one, I know they talked about the numbers. It was a challenge.
778 They talked about the interpreter challenge in terms of numbers.
779 And we have to be reasonable. We can't expect to have everything 100 percent. Various issues have been identified. The interpreting issue across Canada has been identified as an issue.
780 So we have to be sure that when VRS is set up that we have a plan. If it's the Ministry of Industry that's going to provide grants for interpreter training program expansion, there's money. We can find that money.
781 If we're looking at encouraging job opportunities, here's one way to do it.
782 We have to plan for that eventuality and make sure that we're working together, and it will happen. We will have a 24/7 service. It will grow and it will expand, and the interpreters will be available.
783 MS MORELAND (interpreted): And also, to add one more thing, I grew up using interpreters a lot in the education system and in the community and for legal appointments, meetings, et cetera. Yes, we do have an interpreter shortage.
784 Do we feel that will impact VRS? No, I don't think it really will because I don't think that most interpreters would mind working part-time in a VRS call centre.
785 Most interpreters that I know prefer to work in the community. They want to work with people. So they might work part-time.
786 It's like, you know, at CHS. You might work half a day at the call centre, but the other half of your day as an interpreter you might be out on interviews, working one on one with a deaf person.
787 I think once it's posted, we will see who comes and then we would be figuring out how to accommodate that.
788 I would think we probably have, I'm guessing, 3,000 interpreters across Canada. I've never asked AVLIC for the official numbers. But maybe 10 to 20 percent of those would want to work as VRS interpreters.
789 As well, there would be new recruits joining them.
790 So really, is it a concern? I don't feel a concern.
791 The concern is that the community, the people who live in the community every day, we don't want them to suffer for a lack of interpreters. Their travel time to get there, their billing issues, et cetera for the interpreter, that could be an issue.
792 But at the call centre, it's a much more efficient use of the interpreter's time.
793 If you ask any interpreter, they may work three or four hours a day hands in the air, but the rest of the time of the day working full-time is commuting, preparing, getting there. And that would be why there's a shortage.
794 They have to figure -- calculate in their travel time, whereas at the call centre it's pretty flexible and the interpreter is there.
795 If there's an interpreter who -- some interpreters are morning people, so they'll be there in the morning, et cetera. There's a lot of flexibility. That would minimize any of the concerns or the challenges for the interpreters.
796 And I think it can be accommodated. It's not a black and white issue. It's a very elastic issue.
797 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think what I hear you saying, then, is that there is some elasticity in the time that the community interpreters would have available, that they're not -- that they're maybe not all fully employed in community interpreting? Is that correct?
798 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes, exactly. Exactly.
799 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
800 MS MORELAND (interpreted): And with the opportunity for coordinating with interpreter training programs, mentoring opportunities, et cetera, I think there's a lot of opportunities to -- employment opportunities for interpreters. And it's going to expand.
801 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you very much. That's very helpful.
802 Now, some intervenors have commented on the extensive array of alternatives that have developed since VRS was first introduced in the U.S. in the 1990s, for example, non-real-time applications, including instant messaging, text, email, near real-time applications such as Skype, Google Hangout -- Google Hangouts, I guess, and iChat.
803 They also mention point to point calls are made five times more often than interpreted relay calls.
804 They point out that technological and market forces have addressed this portion of the VRS demand without government intervention --
805 THE INTERPRETER: I'm sorry. For the interpreter, I wonder if you can go back.
806 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Oh, sure. To the beginning?
807 THE INTERPRETER: You're reading a little bit too quickly.
808 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
809 THE INTERPRETER: If you could go back and --
810 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I'll slow it down.
811 THE INTERPRETER: -- maybe start that again.
812 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, sorry. I'll do that, yeah.
813 Some intervenors have commented on the extensive array of alternatives that have developed since VRS was first introduced in the United States in the 1990s. They cite, for example, non-real-time applications, including instant messaging, text, email, and near real-time applications such as Skype video, Google Hangouts, and iChat.
814 They also mention that point to point calls are made five times more often than interpreted relay calls.
815 They point out that technological and market forces have addressed this portion of the VRS demand without government intervention.
816 They ask in light of these developments if there is still the same imperative for mandating VRS.
817 And we would appreciate your comments on this viewpoint.
818 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Point to point is a daily occurrence. Do you count how many times you have a point to point contact with each other?
819 Deaf people have deaf friends, and we get in touch with each other, of course. But when I need to speak to you, it can't be point to point. It has to be accessible for me in my natural language, ASL.
820 So Facebook chat, IM, all of those things are there every day. How many of you have used point to point? Same thing for us.
821 But when we want to put the two languages together, your language and my language, it's different, and that's why I'm here to give you the answer.
822 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much. It's helpful.
823 Some of these questions we -- are necessary because we want to have a full record, so they may be repetitive for a little bit for -- but bear with us.
824 The -- we're wondering if you have an approximate percentage of deaf Canadians who are not fluent in either English or French.
825 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Well, as a deaf person, I've met people many places, but I could honestly say maybe 70 to 80 percent of deaf Canadians are not comfortably -- comfortably fluent in English or French.
826 Sign language is my first language. I struggle with the language that you require, the English language, the spoken and heard language. You're speaking that language; I'm reading that language. But I'm signing my natural language, a different one.
827 The struggle, I can tell you, 75 percent, at least, of deaf people across Canada struggle with the written English or French language. The other 25 percent, they work hard to understand English or French. They work really hard.
828 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think you make an important distinction there between "fluent" and "comfortably fluent". Thank you for that.
829 I'm wondering what rate you feel VRS users should pay to access VRS and if you could just comment on that point.
830 MS MORELAND (interpreted): We would expect equal -- the same as a basic phone service, whatever that is by the month; $25 a month, for example.
831 We pay for the internet, to use the internet, and so maybe there could be a small allowance on top of that. That would be okay. But deaf people cannot afford to pay an arm and a leg for the service.
832 We need to have equal functionality. We want to be able to spend the same amount of money as you do. We would like competitive prices where we could negotiate.
833 We need a certain amount of access, a certain size of data plan just as you need a special or a certain kind of voice plan. Some of you may have a 500-minute plan. Some have an unlimited plan.
834 It's the same sort of thing. I would want to be able to negotiate my plan. I would want to have equality there.
835 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So current -- so would you expect having to pay both for phone and internet, then, or just for internet since it's going to be delivered over the internet? Which --
836 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I'd like to share my experience with you.
837 In the States, when we -- I was there. And when they set up VRS services, I had a TTY, I had a telephone, and so I had to start paying for the -- I paid for the internet. I set up VRS. This was 10 years ago.
838 Then I started using VRS, and using it a lot, and I found the accessibility factor great. I'm a teacher. I could get in touch with parents of my students. I could call the doctor. And I realized, here I was paying a monthly fee for a phone line, maybe $40 a month, and I was hardly ever using it.
839 I found I would invest my money more in just the internet service, so I cut the phone. I got rid of my TTY, got rid of my phone line.
840 That was 10, 11 years ago.
841 My access to the world is through the internet. That's my laptop, my BlackBerry, my mobile device, et cetera, and that's the reality today for most deaf people. We are using the internet exclusively.
842 MS MORELAND (interpreted): For my mobile phone, I never thought I would say to my deaf son, "Where's your phone?" That's a hearing thing to say, but now even deaf people can say that.
843 "I'll call you", for example. "Where's my phone?"
844 So I pay a monthly fee on this. I have my internet. I have my number, everything. So I expect compatible pricing.
845 For people who don't have a phone who are only going to use VRS through their internet, I would expect that it would all be inclusive in their price, just as I have all the services I want on my phone.
846 Some deaf people that I know pay $100 a month for their phone for their data plan. A hundred dollars ($100) a month. Some pay 40. It's such a variable rate. It depends on the provider, the TSP. They're such variable rates.
847 There needs to be a standard.
848 The barrier to access is that we often do not use, and probably never use, the voice part of our phone. The voice plan is there. Some of us use text. Some prefer not to use text. We need to establish a minimum, affordable minimum plan.
849 MR. BEATTY: We'll pay for our services, our own number, et cetera, but the service should already be there. And for example, what's interesting is that I'm in a family where everybody else is hearing. And they'll say, "Jeff, we know you're not ever far from your mobile phone. It's with you all the time".
850 And I didn't realize that. It's a new thing.
851 I recently read that most people are no more than three feet from their mobile device, so today, that's the world we all live in.
852 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: We did have some -- oh, sorry, go ahead.
853 Go ahead.
854 MS FLOROS: For me, as a very deaf individual, I never thought I would say to my father, "Keep your phone with you because I'm going to be trying to get in touch with you when I'm out".
855 My father's hearing. He's not the kind of person who would take his phone with him everywhere. It's almost ironic because he was never to take his phone with him, and I always have my phone with me as a deaf person. So now I have to tell him to be sure to take his phone.
856 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Travelling between the U.S. and Canada and using my phone in both countries, I can see why VRS is so necessary. I have no way to get in touch with any of you on the Panel. It's impossible for me to get in touch with you, and the same with getting in touch with my family.
857 But if I go through VRS and in the States when I'm on holiday, my family all mentions how convenient it is and how VRS really does make a huge difference.
858 Technology is here. It's here today. We should use it.
859 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
860 Just along the same lines, you know -- and you're advocating as well that the cost of VRS should be covered from the TSP revenues, or at least not covered from it, but at least it should be -- should come from the TSP.
861 So of course, they're going to pass the cost on to individual Canadian consumers. And I'm just wondering what you think would be a reasonable rate increase for all subscribers in order to fund VRS.
862 You know, how much are we talking about per month? What would be the maximum tolerable for individual Canadians?
863 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Everybody in Canada should contribute, as they do in the States. It's a program for everybody.
864 It's going to be less than one percent across the board. If you look at the cost of running VRS in the States and what the TSPs have, it's a large amount. We're talking less than one percent to run the VRS service in the United States.
865 And I expect it would be the same thing here.
866 It should be everybody. The service would be for everybody.
867 I have the mobile device, so everybody should contribute. We're talking less than one percent.
868 The universal fees would help the centre be established. Everybody pays their monthly bill. Everybody would pay. I think that would be the way to do it.
869 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I understand that. But my question is, really, how much would be too much?
870 Like what would be the most we could expect?
871 So you're talking in terms of one percent. One percent of their monthly phone bill, or are you saying their monthly internet bill?
872 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Seven to 15 cents a month per individual.
873 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
874 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): That's what I'd be talking about.
875 MS MORELAND (interpreted): If you calculate a different formula, there are 35 million people in Canada. If we got $1 from every one of those people, that would be one year of VRS services.
876 TSP recent one quarter, I notice the -- one of them had a $35 million profit in that quarter.
877 I'm a consumer of that TSP, and their accessibility, their consumer service is pretty terrible, but I'm still paying for the service. And I think maybe they should be giving back.
878 It's an equal opportunity for all of us to end the discrimination.
879 I notice on their website they have English and French, but there's barriers for me. And it's their job to remove the barriers to make sure that there's -- there's no discrimination that all disability groups have full access to telecommunications.
880 It's a human right. It's in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights. You can't discriminate.
881 So I feel the TSPs are discriminating by not giving fully accessible services. And they should meet up. They should do this, provide these services.
882 Everyone should pay. They're not really providing what we need at this point. And I do wonder why -- as prices go up and up and up, why we're paying that.
883 If they were providing what we wanted, well, then, I guess we would be happy to pay perhaps a bit of an increase, but right now we're not happy to pay an increase because the service isn't there.
884 I think that all the TSPs should pay to the central fund to pay for that. And this would also show that these companies have -- the telecommunication companies have become discrimination free.
885 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So if the total tab was $32 million a year then, in your view, the telephone companies, TSPs, should absorb that cost without sharing it with individual Canadians?
886 MS MORELAND (interpreted): No. No, I think all consumers should pay for access to the services. We do, we pay for their internet phone, et cetera. We all pay for it. So they can allocate in there the money they take in to provide accessible services.
887 VRS is not just for the deaf. One day you may have a deaf relative, grandchild, brother, sister-in-law, how are you going to communicate with them on the phone? Are you going to want to share bad news through a text message or even good news? You want that human contact, that one-on-one, not the written word.
888 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think I understand the importance and the value of having the --
889 MS MORELAND (interpreted): We are paying for it now.
890 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Sorry, I think I understand the importance of having VRS. I think that is very clear from all the submissions that we have gotten.
891 I am just trying to understand how the cost would be covered, whether it would be the individual Canadians entirely paid for by the TSPs, so off of their bottom lines. But thank you for that. Just to clarify that, I do understand the importance of the service.
892 What do you think would be the biggest barrier in -- sorry, go ahead.
893 MS MORELAND (interpreted): One other thing. The TSPs collect our monthly fees. They could take a dollar out of each person's fee, not bill us, but take a dollar, and put it into the VRS fund. It's as simple as that. There are $35 million people, we are all customers, a dollar each.
894 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you for that.
895 What do you think would be the biggest barrier in consumer adoption of VRS once it is implemented?
896 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Training. Right? Yes, training. Absolutely education and training in terms of how to use VRS, that will be a barrier. But it is easy to fix, we can teach, train and it will progress from there.
897 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Would that be accomplished mostly through organizations like your own that support the deaf?
898 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes. We would have workshops, web tutorials, demos, et cetera, webcasts, hands-on. Remember when you were first learning about computers? Everybody was, oh, now what do I do with the mouse? Where does this go? It was a learning process, everybody learned.
899 Some people took classes, some people learned on site, some people just learned. Perhaps they were awkward in the beginning and perhaps this will be awkward in the beginning, but it will establish itself. It well become well thought out.
900 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Is it reasonable to assume that all of the -- sorry, you go ahead.
901 MS FLOROS (interpreted): Like has just been said, and as I said before about the VRS, when everybody was so -- it was so awkward at the beginning. We are a much more visual society now. Yes, it might take a bit to get used to, but we will get used to it. Of course it will take a bit of time.
902 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I was just going to add, is it a safe assumption that all persons who are deaf would likely have a relationship with your association or the B.C. or a similar provincial association?
903 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): The B.C. committee and our committee have worked closely with all of our communities. We have had video chats, we have explained to people how to do things. The media has covered what we are doing. We have shown people in person what VRS looks like and increased the knowledge.
904 I know that there are some people who haven't had VRS experience, and so we have always been willing to share that. It is very hands on, it has been, and it will continue to be. It is a barrier in the beginning, for sure. But the more that we get involved and the more we are out in the community the clearer it will become and the more well-known it will become.
905 MS MORELAND (interpreted): In Ontario the deaf community has recognized our committee because they know that we are only looking at VRS issues. We collect information and share it. Senior citizens have asked us how does the VRS work and they want to know about it.
906 We have become sort of the de facto experts in the VRS field. We are not the experts, but we are trying to empower everyone. It is the same with the B.C. committee, the Alberta committee, Manitoba has a committee, and Quebec also has a committee. So we are trying to get the information out and empower people so that it will keep going. We are providing support.
907 It has all been through volunteer efforts, to get that information out in order to help people process all of the information.
908 The deaf community doesn't necessarily read a newspaper for the deaf, we are using video, we are using our hands, we are in-person visual communicators, not text-based communication. And it is the same with this committee in B.C. and in Ontario and the other provinces. But we have worked very very closely with the B.C. committee. We have mirrored their actions and their very progressive approach.
909 And one of our goals and one of our top priorities is the empowerment of those we are working with.
910 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I can see that you have done a very thorough job in Ontario.
911 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Thank you.
912 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I am just wondering if other provinces -- if you can speak for the other provinces that you didn't mention in your comment there, if there are other areas in the country that might need more support that don't have as sophisticated an organization?
913 MS MORELAND (interpreted): We have setup similar committees. Quebec has a committee, a VRS committee, Alberta does. But there are some provinces that need access to information. They need to find a person or a group of people who are willing to volunteer to work on this.
914 Remember, metro areas like this have clusters of deaf people. But Canada is a pretty huge country and we have provinces where a deaf person is -- well, tends to be in most provinces deaf people are clustered in areas; deaf schools, employment access centres, deaf service centres, et cetera.
915 So our committee, our primary focus has been on the deaf in Ontario. But we have been sharing information across Canada, trying to make sure it is spread out so that there is equal access to information.
916 But the outreach is a real challenge. Some of the communities, for example Northern Ontario, we had a town hall meeting in Thunder Bay, we had one in Sudbury, and one in the Sioux, North Bay. So isolated communities is a bit of a challenge. We use technology, whatever technology might be available to make it happen, and it is progressing, it is a challenge.
917 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
918 The existing privacy and confidentiality standards for TTY and IP relay, would they be sufficient for VRS or are there some special considerations that would have to be provided for?
919 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): VRS, I can see who you are. But the IP relay is just a number. There are a lot of complaints -- you know, I can see who the person is and I can send a complaint.
920 But if you are the VRS relay interpreter, you would identify yourself. You know, you might find out that the person that comes up on your service, your VRS call -- I made a call once, turned out the interpreter was a very close neighbour. I mean, I was just making a call to my car mechanic, so it wasn't really a big deal.
921 But what if it had been something, you know, more serious? You never know who your interpreter is going to be.
922 MS MORELAND (interpreted): In the interpreter training programs the interpreters training have learned about the code of ethics, et cetera. And of course when you setup VRS you would be working with AVLIC to incorporate the code of ethics, et cetera.
923 It is the same when you go to a lawyer, you expect that if you have an interpreter there the information isn't shared outside of that meeting. There are professional standards and the deaf community depends and has confidence in the interpreter that the information will be kept confidential.
924 For recording purposes, sometimes we need that for quality control and to evaluate interpreters. We understand that that might happen and we would expect that the industry itself in VRS industry has standards that protect us, the deaf community, and our right to confidentiality in terms of our information staying within say a company or a situation.
925 In my experience as a deaf consumer using interpreting services, interpreters have been very professional, they have boundaries, they follow code of ethics. It is a matter of education and boundaries between the interpreter and the boundaries of the consumer as well. It doesn't matter whether you are deaf or hearing, you have to educate, and that is an ongoing process.
926 But the standards, the professional standards, are very high and I have seen that maintained, the standards have been maintained.
927 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: In the instance that you described, Mr. Beatty, just in that example, if it had been a personal issue that you didn't want to discuss with somebody that you knew as your neighbour or was that you recognized, what would you do? Just call back later or would you make an appointment to get somebody else? How would you address that?
928 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I guess it would depend on the situation, if it was a familiar interpreter. In this case it actually was an interpreter who had been with me through education. And all of a sudden, here she is working part-time for VRS.
929 But I was quite confident that she knew the code of ethics. I wouldn't have minded if it had been a doctor's appointment, for example, because I know that the VRS interpreters would be following the confidentiality part through their code of ethics. So I would have confidence in that situation even though it was my neighbour.
930 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you.
931 The Commission currently monitors existing relay services on a case-by-case basis through the complaints process. And complaints is actually how we deal with a lot of issues.
932 And I am just wondering if you think that the complaints process would be suitable for the VRS?
933 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): We need to have the centre. When we setup the VRS services, established the services, for example the FCC in the U.S., they have a central agency, they have a disability rights office. So anything in terms of a complaint would go right through both of these centres.
934 If we got in touch with FCC, they would say get in touch with the VRS company. They would discuss issues of concern, any complaints. Because they had already setup the -- because the two centres were already setup and so that's where the complaints would go.
935 So we are assuming the same thing would happen here, that the centres would have their own complain mechanisms.
936 VRS would have to be accountable and also have transparency. That is very important.
937 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I am sorry, Mr. Beatty, I missed it. It was the disability rights office, and what was the first avenue for handling a complaint or other option?
938 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I can't remember the exact name.
939 MS MORELAND (interpreted): The VRS providers, if somebody filed a complaint to the Disability Rights office, they would let the VRS provider know that there had been a complaint received, and that they would then follow-up --
940 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay.
941 MS MORELAND (interpreted): -- in order to try and solve the complaint. If it was not solvable, then they would communicate back with the FCC. But the disability rights organization deals with the consumer complaints.
942 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
943 We did ask a question in the Notice of Consultation, and I just think maybe it got overlooked in your submission. But would you think that the VRS system, would it be necessary for it to allow callers to make an appointment for time-sensitive calls?
944 MS MORELAND (interpreted): No. May I ask you, do you make appointments when you plan to make a phone call? No, that's clear. So should we? I don't believe so.
945 It is not a telephone conference, it is not a telephone meeting. But if we are referring to specifically VRS access, then no. We would like the ability to make a phone call anytime anywhere, just like you do. Again I ask you, do you make an appointment when you are planning to make a phone call? Do you advise them in advance? No.
946 So really, this is an issue that should never even come up. We have the same rights to communication as you do. Otherwise, it would be considered a cap on our communication or we can say price on our communication.
947 So that is a very interesting issue. A very interesting question.
948 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I wasn't seeing it as a price or cap, I was just thinking would it be necessary. But if it is not necessary, then that is fine. That is great.
949 MS FLOROS (interpreted): I would like to added to that. For instance, in the case of IP relay service, we do have to wait. We are not able to make a phone call necessarily when we want to. However, if I am using a TTY, I can reach the relay service somewhat more easily. But video relay service, the interpreters are there, it is live, it should be easier as opposed to an IP relay service.
950 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
951 In your submission you mentioned that ideally all family members, co-workers and those who know ASL/LSQ should be provided with a video phone. And I am just wondering if you are familiar with what happens in this regard in other countries?
952 MS MORELAND (interpreted): I believe you might be referring to Sorenson. Sorenson, we understand, has been giving out video phones. However, I don't feel we need the hardware to access VRS. We already have the program that we can install on our computer, on our mobile device, on our laptop, on our tablet, what have you. We just need to download the application.
953 However, there might be something necessary to be installed on your television, but it can be easily modified. There can be some work done there.
954 But in general, I would say that it is a pretty direct thing, other than as we've mentioned, interoperability and all the compatibility necessary to ensure that quality of service and so on and so forth. I think it's quite simple. So that anyone, whether it is a hearing individual or a deaf person, can access the service.
955 There would be a database where we would record or register our personal information, our name, our phone number, and individuals -- our contact list I guess, our address book. And it would be protected, that information would be protected, and we can have our preferences setup, that kind of stuff.
956 You know, in today's world of technology it is really very simple.
957 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Yes. Sarah had said earlier about the video phones and the devices that had been given out. But honestly, in today's world, with LTE and mobile devices such as we have now, things are really right there.
958 It is not about dial-up anymore, it is instantaneous. The world has changed. We are not talking about the same world technologically as we had before. Really, what we have is incredible. My family members have everything they need in order for us to communicate through VRS if it is setup, and we can, it's all there.
959 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: That is great. That is insightful.
960 The last issues that I have is just to discuss the models. And, as you know, we had set out two in the notice of consultation. And they were not necessarily intended to be the be all and end all. It was more intended to be food for thought.
961 So we just wanted to discuss a couple more models with you first. And the first one would be that the VRS is funded through a centralized fund to which all TSPs or some subset would contribute. And I think that you have already indicated you support that.
962 And a third-party VRS provider would be provided through a CISC-like process, and that is that a group representing the industry, organizations representing the deaf, and interpreter organizations would identify the provider. And the CRTC would then, like they do with CISC processes, either approve or reject the recommendation.
963 But in this manner of doing it, the LECs would remain responsible for providing the service and would be compensated from the fund. And so we are just interested in your comments on that.
964 MS MORELAND (interpreted): I don't think we have an issue to any of that.
965 The issue we have is the requirement -- the need to meet the quality of -- to a certain level of service. I believe that once everything is setup the expectations will provide those guidelines and that will be met through the service providers.
966 Are we greatly concerned about that? No. What mainly concerns us is the quality of service and what falls from there. I feel that that is of more value to discuss than saying who and what, and I understand the need for that, but we are most concerned with an interest in communication, quality of service.
967 I know for a fact that I would not use a VRS service provider who did not support the deaf community and our use of our native language. We want them to like us, to be friendly, to be open. It is to have that appropriate business approach. That is very important to the deaf community. And if it is there, if all of that is there, then we would be happy to work with them.
968 And I wanted to add one more thing too. That in Canada a monopoly is illegal. So that means that the doors have to be open to competition. And to be honest with you, message relay service to date has had no competition. And therefore what has happened to the quality of service? It has gone down. We need to see that. When there is no competition, then the quality reduces.
969 And so I feel that it can be fantastic, the service can be amazing. The profits will come later, but that quality of service is primary, that access is most important. That is a very important hot issue with us. And so we want to ensure that that is in place.
970 So we would like to see a minimum of two service providers and once we see that, we would be somewhat flexible. But that is the minimum at the outset, and from there we can expand.
971 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): You are correct in saying that we have said we recommend the centralized fund, because all individuals would pay into that and we all benefit from that, and that is the way it should be. That is wonderful. And regardless of who we are, it would benefit us all.
972 And so, for that reason, we recommend the centralized fund.
973 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I want to pickup on one of your comments, Sarah. I certainly understand the need for quality and standards. But I am just wondering in this scenario, and in fact the other scenario that I spoke of when we were talking to the Canadian Hearing Association this morning, the LEC would be the one responsible for providing the service.
974 So if it was a competitive model and the LEC was doing it, then you the consumer wouldn't be choosing I don't think who your VRS provider would be. It would seem to me that in that setup the LEC would be deciding that. So that is not what you want. You want to, as an individual consumer, decide who your provider is?
975 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes, that is correct.
976 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, that is an important distinction for me.
977 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Yes. If I may, I would like to give you an example. In the States there are five VRS providers that I can access through my mobile device. And people have asked me, why? I say, well, that is what I like. I think that all of us, we make choices, like we want Bell or we want to use Rogers or whatever it might be. So I think that that is fair, that we would have that same choice.
978 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you all very much.
979 Those are my questions, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
980 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Shoan.
981 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Hello, all. Thank you for being here today. I have a couple of very quick questions.
982 In your presentation with respect to your positioning with respect to VRS, on the DEC slide entitled Service Delivery Expectations, you state, "Reasonable wait/hold feature of 5 to 10 minutes would be acceptable as part of a phased rollout with a goal of maintaining a 24/7 service."
983 I read that and I thought a 5 to 10 minute waiting period seems to me a little bit long. And I say that based on the answering performance information contained in the TELUS trial, which indicated quite an uptake in the percentage of abandoned calls when the average speed answering drifted above 30 or 40 seconds.
984 So 5 to 10 minutes could result in a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned calls. So would you address that issue please?
985 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes, sure.
986 Regarding the TELUS trial, I feel that that question would be best posed to the BCVRS, because they are the ones who went through the trial, they have all the specific information.
987 However, in general, from a general observation, I would say that when I call, as an example, a government department, a government agency, often I will wait at least 20 minutes before I can reach a live person, a live agent.
988 Even trying to reach Rogers I have had to wait online for about two and a half hours. And so I guess my answer to your questions is if an individual really wants to get through, they will, they will wait.
989 And when it comes to the TELUS trial, we have to recall that the beginning and the end of that trial, people were responding differently at the end of the trial compared to the beginning because their comprehension, their understanding of the process and VRS, how it all works, was greater at the end of the trial.
990 So I think that the statistics that you referred to from that trial possibly could have been from the beginning, when individuals weren't familiar with VRS.
991 And so I think that, again, I was willing to wait when I called Rogers once for two and a half hours. So if a person has an important phone call that they want to make, they will also be willing to wait.
992 And the funny thing is that the operator will tell me as I am waiting, oh, by the way, we are playing elevator music for you right now. And I will say to them, you know what, sorry, that really is lost on me. That experience of elevator music is lost on me.
993 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
994 One last question. VRS service providers have told us that the optimal downstream bandwidth usage for video relay service is 1.5 megabytes. You have asked for 20 megabytes per second.
995 Can you explain that difference?
996 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Yes. You recall we had talked about how technology has changed. And the 1.5 megabytes is for uploading.
997 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
998 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): And 5 megabytes for downloading. So really technology has changed, we have mobile devices, we have laptops, many things that are different today.
999 And so what will happen, unless it is higher, there will be throttling, the throttling issue -- or not throttling necessarily, but there will be -- the speed will not accommodate well enough. And so we can choose either a 5-megabyte per second or up to 100-megabyte per second plan.
1000 And I chose a 25-megabyte per second plan because my children have their devices, we have laptops at home and so on and so forth. So that is why we recommend perhaps not 25, but we can say 20 for today's usage in general.
1001 If we had 1 or 1.5, that would mean we would be relegated to using one device at any given moment and any given time and everybody else would have to -- you know, they wouldn't be able to get on, they would have to turn off their devices.
1002 And so that means we can't have two video phones on at the same time if we were using 1-megabyte per second plan.
1003 And what if I and my partner would like to make a phone call at the same time on different video phones? We can, that is no problem with a 20-megabyte per second plan.
1004 MS MORELAND (interpreted): And my family lives in a home where we are six living there. And we are online everyday. My stepson loves playing video games on his PS3. And he is downloading from the net.
1005 My daughter loves to be on YouTube looking at videos there. I am on Twitter, Facebook, what have you. I am in touch with all my friends in the deaf community, and so you can imagine the internet activity just in our one home. So we have a 35-megabyte per second plan and it works pretty well for us.
1006 But the bandwidth is 250 gigabytes a month. So in other words, we use 15 to 20 gigabytes per day, when my kids are not in school I am referring to. When they are in school, then of course that goes down. But over the summer you can imagine, my bandwidth was 600 gigabytes per month.
1007 So if we were to add VRS to that and VRS access and video phone use, then it would increase incredibly. And so there is a penalty when you do that. We need to remove that cap. And I am willing to pay more for my internet plan, but the penalties are exorbitant. So we do need the higher quality and we then can use VRS.
1008 But right now, yes, I do have the capability, but the issue is the cap, the penalty or the reduction of speed. Those are the issues.
1009 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Okay, I understand. So the issue is really one of your concern with throttling and ensuring there is enough bandwidth there to handle multiple applications at the same time without disturbing the quality of the video relay experience?
1010 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes, that is correct.
1011 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Okay, thank you.
1012 MS MORELAND (interpreted): And the connection, the connectivity is an issue. Once VRS is provided we need to be able to access that, we need to be able to connect with those service providers. And so it can be modified within an individual's internet plan.
1013 Once that expectation is set and we consider the household needs and the wireless providers, the provision of wireless service, LTE, the data plan, all those things. And from there everything would be -- and perhaps, you know, there might be some bumps along the way, but otherwise very smooth.
1014 Thank you.
1015 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Thank you. Just briefly, yes, I feel your pain. If you have teenagers at home, they go through megabytes like were sort of miniscule bytes.
1016 But anyways, that being said. In terms of the internet services and the subscription to internet, that would be the responsibility if the VRS user. That has been established?
1017 MS MORELAND (interpreted): Yes, yes.
1018 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Okay.
1020 Secondly, if I understood correctly, following some questions Madam Duncan was asking, I think you put a cap at $35 million per annum for the VRS service?
1021 MS MORELAND (interpreted): I don't know if I would say a cap, but if we were to look at the Mission Consulting report, if the industry expands or decreases, then the cost of efficiency might change. But I would say that it would be reasonable to expect between $32 million to $35 million.
1022 We live in Harper country and so we are paying our taxes as well. And I would say somewhere within that range that I just gave you would be reasonable.
1023 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Okay, I won't touch that answer.
1024 If we were to sort of arrive at that $35 million level, which is $1 per Canadian per year, and that somehow was not enough, then we would have to choose as we are often called upon to do, between greater quality for a more limited time or a longer day if you will with longer waits. What would be your preference?
1025 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): Well, with my experience in the States and that limited time, and I would try to get on and try to reach an operator, I did notice that at the beginning it was a frustrating experience. But about a year later things improved greatly. And so we see that that will happen here as well. We can wait, we can be patient.
1026 But our goal undoubtedly is 24/7, and we feel very confident that things will progress very quickly, perhaps within a few years, up to five-years' time, once the training is in place and interpreters are brought up to speed. Definitely we can see that within five years' time things will be at maximum capacity.
1027 But we strongly encourage not waiting, just moving ahead. And it will come, it will pickup.
1028 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Well, we could start at less than 24/7 -- I'm sorry.
1029 MS MORELAND (interpreted): I would like to stress that even when it comes to booking an interpreter or gaining access to an interpreter for an appointment, sometimes we have to wait up to two weeks. So when you refer to maybe not being able to provide VRS service at the outset 24/7, that is okay, we are used to that.
1030 Initially consumer reaction to the new service, you know, it will be new for them, we don't expect things to be set perfectly good to go at the very beginning. We understand that.
1031 The concern about the funding and whether it will be $35 million or not, we can talk about that later, at another time. Perhaps if that happens we would get together again and maybe we would have to be flexible, change some of the administration, perhaps have some cutbacks.
1032 But we are talking about the cost to establish all of this. If we go over that amount, the $35 million or whatever, then we will revisit it, but at that time. Right now we have enough other things to worry about. It is more likely that we are going to be under that amount, I think.
1033 But when we look at today's technology, the knowledge that we have, people with business backgrounds, people getting together and brainstorming, it would be less likely to be making mistakes when we start the VRS industry in Canada.
1034 We have already invested a lot of energy and time in this strategy and these plans. I don't think we need to really worry about that. There is the cost of a living allowance, perhaps we will need to add something about that in terms of the increases, et cetera. Those things might be possible.
1035 But right now I think we will have a formula and I think we will be okay for now.
1036 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I would like to add that when I look back 10 years, 11 years, and the establishment of VRS, it was a brand new concept. And then as we got into it and started using it and were experienced with it, we know the best things to do, what are the problems, the barriers, the transparency, the mandate, the responsibilities.
1037 We have the VRS experience to build on. We know what to do. We can protect ourselves and be sure of transparency, that we are doing the right things. I think it is the right time and the right place. We have the confidence.
1038 Unfortunately, in the States they got caught in the fraud issues, et cetera. Well, we have learned from them. So we would set it up so that we would have a system that would prevent that. They had to go through those learning experiences.
1039 But we would be setting it up the right way. We know what the right thing to do is. I have confidence. And I look at you, I have lots of confidence that we will be able to do this right, and we have the experience to help.
1040 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Thank you for your answer.
1041 Just briefly in conclusion, you are here as representatives for the Ontario Video Relay Services. There is a substantial segment of your population that is francophone in Ontario, we can debate the numbers but --
1042 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): It is true.
1043 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Okay. There also seems to be some worry on the francophone side in terms of training a sufficient number of certified sign language interpreters to represent a reasonable and acceptable offer for LSQ services.
1044 You espouse a bilingual service, from what I understood from your presentation. Would you agree with delaying the launch in order to allow both languages to be up and running at the same time?
1045 MS MORELAND (interpreted): First of all, yes, we must have a bilingual service. Yes, of course. But to ask us to wait? Why wait? You can start small. What is the ratio in the community?
1046 For example, if in Quebec they have a pool of LSQ interpreters, then they could go ahead with VRS and maybe start small and give them room to grow. They have the same challenges as the ASL interpreting community. They will start small and they will grow. It is the same in the ASL interpreters. We will have to go through various phases and expand the numbers.
1047 In order to provide services 24/7 we have to make sure there are enough interpreters. The ratios may be different. I don't have the numbers, I don't have the exact numbers. And perhaps we could ask AVLIC about the number of ASL users.
1048 The deaf community is saying we can go ahead, we can have an LSQ/VRS service. They feel that we can go ahead. But in terms of the mechanism itself, it would be very much the same as the English services. Maybe we would have 10 ASL interpreters to one LSQ interpreter, and that would be the challenge.
1049 But now we have already identified that as a challenge, and so we would benefit in that we would now start looking for solutions to those barriers so that we could improve on that situation.
1050 It is natural to see that both of them should be growing at the same time, learning from each other, seeing how everything happens, how the VRS is setup, learning from each other. LSQ interpreters are wonderful people. They are keen, they are interested.
1051 When VRS is established I am sure that the LSQ interpreters and VRS will develop and will join forces with us. We have been well-known for working together and it will grow up as two services together. It is growing together for the VRS services in both languages.
1052 You are going to face economic questions about supply and demand of course. It is the same for us. We have had to face that issue for ASL. We have supply and demand questions in the ASL, and LSQ the same thing.
1053 But you can go ahead and do it. But to wait and hold up our service, waiting for the LSQ solutions? No. I think we just go ahead and work on the solutions for the LSQ need. It is not fair to anyone to delay any longer.
1054 By establishing the VRS services and moving forward, we will be able to help support the LSQ centre and recognizing the services. It is a business. There would be marketing, we would have to do analysis identifying, et cetera in order to move ahead.
1055 COMMISSIONER PENTEFONTAS: Thank you.
1056 Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
1057 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson.
1058 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I just have one question, Ms Moreland and Mr. Beatty. In your experiences a VRS, this is in the United States, I heard you say that you appreciate having multiple choices of providers.
1059 But I would like to understand, particularly from Mr. Beatty's standpoint, are you limited to the type of devices you can use with those multiple providers?
1060 Are there some that have more proprietary technology that limit your ability to use them and are there others that are more open with respect to devices that can be used. And if this is so, are there any problems associated with that?
1061 MR. BEATTY (interpreted): I can answer that question. In terms of the devices, the iPhone category has apps, the iPad, the Mac, et cetera, the Android has their own, the mobile, the laptops, et cetera. But VRS will be develop the apps that, I am sure they did, that are compatible with all of them.
1062 The five that I have all have their own apps. I download them for the laptop or the iPad or whatever. That is what is there and that is what I can use.
1063 Are there any barriers? Some VRS doesn't provide. For example, one chose the Android, one, as their device to use.
1064 And I said, why aren't you using the iPhone? And they said, oh, we have already chosen the Android. So I had to wait for the development of that device.
1065 I don't want to see that happen here. I think we have to be sure that we have mobile apps provided, desktop apps provided, and browsers to have apps. They must all be provided for those three things, and that will be compatible with any device, whatever device we have. We have to be sure to provide those three areas of apps.
1066 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
1067 We will take a break, if for no other reason than to let the CART ladies cool their hands down.
1068 For 15 minutes, and resume at 3:35. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1517
--- Upon resuming at 1533
1069 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Order, please everyone.
1070 THE SECRETARY: We will now proceed with the next intervener, the Ontario Association of the Deaf.
1071 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 20 minutes.
1072 Thank you.
1073 MR. POSTLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): Hello. I am the representative for the Ontario Association of the Deaf. My name is George Postlethwait.
1074 MR. ZAGOZDZON: And my name is Michael Zagozdzon and I'm the Director, the member at large on the Board.
1075 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): And hello. My name is Megan Youngs and I'm the Secretary.
1076 MR. POSTLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): We do want to bring to you a few comments that we put in our submission, our intervention.
1077 We are Canada's oldest yet non-profit consumer organization. We were established in 1886 and our organization represents one-third of the Canadian deaf population.
1078 Our mission is to work together to ensure a better future for deaf Ontarians by providing leadership, resources and activities that promote and protect the rights and equality across for deaf Ontarians.
1079 VRS has already been well established in the United States, it's been there for the past 11 years, it was there since 2002. Canada is a G8 country and we're the only G8 country that is yet to establish video relay services.
1080 Although we are one of the most internationally well respected countries in terms of human rights and the advancements of human rights, so, I feel that it's ironic to not have video relay services. Video relay service is critical for deaf Canadians and we're going to outline a few of those points and the reasons why.
1081 One of the reasons is that there have been linguistical laws that have been passed in the country and the language access is a basic human right. You'll see some of these legislations that have passed here on our slide. These are legislations of Persons with Disabilities' Human Rights and the second group is the legitimization of sign language rights.
1082 Look at the number, there's about five or six legitimizations of persons' human rights and others in terms of sign language rights.
1083 The UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities passed in 2006. Each of these Conventions established how sign language is one the basics of the founding entity of human rights. Without access to sign language we are not equal, we are not accessing our human rights.
1084 So, turning to the rights to sign language, we have the Ontario Education Act. That Act requires sign language instruction in school and to the education of deaf students. Because it is recognized as an official language of instruction for deaf students, it's recognized there, however, not recognized as a telecommunication mode of communication for deaf people across the country. Again, I find that ironic. In terms of that Convention, it was mentioned eight times throughout the Charter.
1085 Some of the points I'll be outlining have also been mentioned this morning, but I want to repeat them in order to emphasize them.
1086 We want to eliminate communication attitudinal barriers and how to do this is to provide video relay services.
1087 Now, in terms of communications services in relation to VRS versus message relay services: text relay services can communicate 30 words per minute, video relay service, however, is 150 words per minute, in comparison to spoken language which is 170 words per minute. So, video relay service is just about on par with a spoken language phone call.
1088 Even in considering just the speed and efficiency of communication, we're not even talking about being able to communicate in our natural language or being able to communicate with emotive context, emotive contents or nuances in expressions.
1089 I'm going to share with you now a personal experience that I had. I am an American. There have been a few Americans that have been speaking before me. It was fantastic to have a service like that in the States, a video relay service. When I came here it was quite an adjustment. I had to bring my TTY with me, shovel off the amounts of dust that had been accumulated over the years of not using it. I felt like having to go back, as if I was going back in time, I was robbed of my rights to be able to communicate with my fellow citizens.
1090 I feel that hearing people had this right for a long time, they've had these privileges and these advantages offered to them over a number of years that I have not had and I felt these privileges and these advantages being taken away from me when I moved here.
1091 Now, non-manual signals, I want to explain about this concept a little further. If 50 to 70 percent of communication is embedded in non-manual signals, that's involved in your affect, your tone, your intonation, your facial expression, your body language, that's quite a large percent. When we're using message relay services that 50 to 70 percent is lost, but it would be there if VRS was available to us.
1092 There's five VRS service providers in the States called C-o-n-v-o. C-o-n-v-o is a deaf owned company and it is dependent only on mobile devices, so you're required to download an App and they provide ads to market their services.
1093 Now, I have one of these videos to show you, one of their ads. We only have captioning available to you, however, they will not be interpreting, there will not be spoken text, and so, I want you to get a sense of a deaf person's experience when you rely solely on the text message. I want you to look at the interpreter and try and guess their facial expressions and some meaning that is held there, but primarily see what you're getting solely from the text.
--- Video presentation
1094 MR. POSTLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): There are several ads that Convo has developed to promote their services, as well as other VRS services and TSP services that exist in the States and I think that it's neat.
1095 I'm not sure if you got the essence of what this ad was trying to convey, but basically it was a wedding and the cake hadn't arrived yet and, so, the bride was in a panic trying to order her cake. And if you can tell by the facial expressions of the interpreter, she was in a panic, she was upset, she wanted to know where her cake was, hoping it was going to arrive on time and you can see that emotive context in the message itself.
1096 And that is a strong, essential part of our language and, so, I think that this ad represents that well and I wanted you to see it here today.
1097 Our next point that we want to expand on is that we really insist that functional equivalence is important. To us that means that the service is being provided 24/7, that we have a number of ancillary services provided to us as well: call waiting, video mail and things of that nature, like the ancillary services the hearing people have benefitted from, that we do also have a 10-digit number as well and not a long, lengthy number that puts a barrier between people wanting to get in touch with us.
1098 The last two points I find are very important as well, is that right now deaf people when they have a phone they are forced to have a voice plan. I've only heard of a few cases where a deaf person was able to remove that plan from their monthly bill, but although we don't use a voice plan we are still required to pay for it.
1099 Another piece that we need to consider is that we need unlimited data. So, if we could switch and interchange that service; instead of having a voice plan, but to have the unlimited data usage, that would be something that would be an equivalent.
1100 Now I'd like to discuss interoperability and platform. We support that and we do support having a third body as a service provider, for-profit or non-profit organization, we can open it up to the RFPs and see what bids come in.
1101 In regards to the two models, the supply and the demand model, we believe that the demand model would be more effective. Once we build this infrastructure, of course, there are going to be issues that present themselves.
1102 There's a number of small businesses or large businesses that have taken place or have developed, come to be and then have had to close the doors because of these issues. There will be issues in our path, however, they are great learning opportunities to measure our progress, to see the gaps, and to be able to address them versus the supply model. I feel that that approach would be more like brushing the dirt under the carpet; we will not be able to see the issues as readily.
1103 MR. ZAGOZDZON (interpreted): Next we'd like to discuss funding mechanism for cost implications. We're in favour of having a centralized fund, however, there will be supplementary implementation costs as well. We want there to be lots of flexibility built in in order to accommodate any flexibility requirements and not have any limitations.
1104 Another option, we also want to have a subscription fee; for example, 20-cents per month would be from one user $2.40 a year. That could include internet, their telephone, their mobile. So, you think of that $2.40 for everyone, multiply it by 25 million people, just like in the Mission Report, would equal a total of $60 million -- (interpreter error) -- the Mission Report only said it was going to cost $35 million, however, from our calculations we could gather another $60 million and, so, that number's significantly higher than what was outlined in the Mission Report.
1105 So, with that extra funds that we are able to harness, we'd be able to have outreach programs, we'd have funding left over to set up training programs, training programs for interpreters and for other initiatives that we have discussed and outlined today.
1106 Really in terms of funding mechanisms and funding issues, I really don't see that there's going to be any issue in order to obtain the funding necessary to provide the video relay services.
1107 Now, in terms of the availability of sign language interpreters, now that's another issue. Currently we do have around 200 interpreters currently working for American video relay services, so if we could obtain those 200 back that could support this, but also we can start initiatives for interpreter training programs and increase the pool of interpreters that we have and the resources of interpreters that we have in our country.
1108 One immediate solution that you might consider as well is talking with the Citizenship and Immigrations Canada, the CIC organization. We might be able to partner and use the interpreting resources in the States currently to help fill the gaps and the needs that we have for interpreters here in Canada. That could be one strategy that you might entertain as well.
1109 We recommend there is a governance body that does include an office for disability rights and that they will mediate the communication between this organized body with the CRTC who will then also meet with a collective group of advisors, and we recommend that 51 percent of that committee is deaf. They understand deaf experience, deaf life, deaf culture and deaf language.
1110 We feel that having the CRTC and this advisory group in close proximity would be able to help your decision-making process and the development of the overall VRS system.
1111 All in all we do feel that the video relay services will have a great return on our investment.
1112 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): There's two major issues right now facing us that in terms of deaf Canadians 62.4 percent are either unemployed or are not in the labour force at all and in Ontario the numbers are climbing in terms of how many deaf Ontarians are on social services.
1113 With VRS services in place, barriers in terms of obtaining employment will be reduced and deaf Canadians will be able to be employed. Attitudinal barriers will also be diminished, if not removed. We will lessen discrimination. More employability for deaf people means less deaf reliance on social assistance which then more deaf people who are employed means increased income tax revenue for the Government of Canada. It's a win/win situation for everyone.
1114 So, we strongly encourage with all these things considered that you establish video relay services in Canada. Please do not hold yourself back, set the service up as soon as possible and we will together as a team work out the details that come up in our path and future.
1115 Thank you.
1116 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
1117 Commissioner Simpson has some questions for you. Oh, sorry, Commissioner Shoan, not Simpson.
1118 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you for being here today. I have a lengthy list of questions to get through and our time is growing somewhat limited, given that our interpreters will have to depart at some point, so I would appreciate if your answers were clear and on point.
1119 Firstly, I have a couple of questions of clarification from your submission paper in this process. The first question is with respect to the statement that the OAD represents more than one-third of the Canadian deaf population across Canada.
1120 My question is: is this a numerically accurate number based on some sort of census or measurement that you've conducted, or is it simply an extrapolation based on the fact that a third of Canadians live in Ontario?
1121 MR. POSTLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): Well, just as CHS mentioned this morning, the rule of thumb is that if we're considering the population in Canada, 10 percent are deaf. I wouldn't say that what I said was an exact fact, but it is an approximation of how many deaf Canadians live in Ontario.
1122 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
1123 Next, I noticed on page 4 of your submission paper the statement that -- give me a moment -- that according to the numbers that you provided in your document, each subscriber would need to pay only 20-cents per service, an amount to be added to the monthly subscription fees for a combined three service packages including cell, cable, internet.
1124 My question is: why cable, cable is a broadcasting service and we're discussing a telecommunication service? So, could you give me your perspective on why cable should be included in that?
1125 MR. POSTLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): This telephone -- I think I made a mistake then because what I was mentioning was cell, telephone and internet.
1126 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Ah.
1127 MR. P0STLETHWAIT JR. (interpreted): Those are the three packages(sic). That's what I mentioned in the service package.
1128 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Understood. Thank you.
1129 Some interveners questioned the long-term benefits of VRS in an environment where communication tools such as email, texting, facetime and Skype are ubiquitous. Can you please comment on this viewpoint?
1130 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Well, just for example, today or just before a break we had one observer wanting to stay throughout the day and she wanted to let her hearing daughter know that she was going to be delayed and she wasn't sure how she was going to reach her daughter. She had to ask one of the sign language interpreters here today to make a phone call for her.
1131 So, hence my point, if we had VRS she would go and make a phone call and speak directly to her daughter. It's a daily barrier that we face.
1132 For example, a story I can share. Last week I had to take a day off work, we had a gentleman coming to clean the air ducts in our home and I made that appointment back in August and obviously I was on this long waiting list.
1133 And, so, I took the day and waited; it was nine, 10, 11 o'clock, the gentleman never arrived. I had to go next door ask a friend to make a phone call and their response was, "I did try to call to confirm our appointment and you didn't answer, so I had cancelled." And I said, "I gave you my email address, I gave you the relay -- text relay service phone number. I gave you all the options to reach me. I took the day off work, what are we going to do?" And they apologized and said, "We have to book another day." And they told me the next available date they had was in December.
1134 I have lots of stories I can share like that. One time I was driving, I had a flat tire, didn't know what to do. I couldn't contact anybody. I had to ask a friend to please call CAA and then I didn't get a response from my friend, I was texting her.
1135 So, I took a walk down to a neighbouring house, I knocked on the door and asked them if they could help me call CAA. I explained my car was just outside. I was writing back and forth, it was quite awkward and uncomfortable for me. Thankfully the person was kind and would help me out and they said that CAA was going to come and I waited by my car in the cold.
1136 Every day there's a daily occurrence of barriers. If we had VRS, those benefits would outweigh and we would definitely have access to the same amenities and privileges that you have.
1137 There's lots of things that people take every day for granted, but for us, little by little, those are barriers that we face.
1138 I use a TTY and that's -- then I have -- then when I learned about VRS, I realized; well, that's unfair. You know, I shouldn't have to make do or just get by. I don't have equal access. That's my basic human right is accessibility, to be able to make a simple phone call.
1139 It's 2013 and I can't even make a call by myself.
1140 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
1141 You mentioned the TTY service in your reply.
1142 As a general question, with respect to it's quality of service, TTY Relay and IP Relay, is the service adequate, and why or why not, in terms of meeting your needs?
1143 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Technology, obviously, it's not always the best. Sometimes a phone call -- I get disconnected.
1144 For example, the other day -- or last year -- recently, a few months ago, I bought a house and I had to phone a lawyer to finish up the paperwork. We were talking back and forth by phone, and right in the middle of our phone call I got disconnected.
1145 I called back, and the line was busy. I had to give up and had to wait till the following day to go into the office in person.
1146 So, again, I had to take another day off work because their hours are from 9 to 5 and I teach during the day.
1147 IP Relay does have its advantages for small things, quick phone calls. You know, if there's something that's new that's come up, a mortgage or -- a common every-day chat on the phone is fine, but if I come across vocabulary that I don't understand or that I don't use on a daily basis, like -- no, I'm just clarifying with the interpreter -- if there's something new that has come up, legal terminology, mortgage terminology, insurance terminology, language that I don't use every day, for me to use that in English, in my second language, I struggle with the clarity, and I don't understand clearly what they're trying to say because I'm not using my first language.
1148 Most of you, I'm sure, sitting on this panel are probably fluent in French and English, but if you were forced to use German to communicate with the general community around you every day, perhaps you could roughly get by, but you wouldn't understand everything 100 per cent. That's what it would feel like for us.
1149 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, and that's a fair point.
1150 With respect to that point, do you have any information with respect to the approximate percentage, or does the OAD have any information with respect to the approximate percentage of deaf Canadians who are not fluent in either English or French?
1151 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Sadly, no, we don't have accurate stats to share.
1152 I went to university and did quite a bit of research and there isn't, there isn't any -- very little research and we're behind. There definitely is a need. I don't have any accurate stats for you.
1153 It's generally known that deaf people, English and French is not their primary language, but I don't have exact numbers for you. But I'm telling you a lot, many people. And it's not only deaf people, hearing people, in general, too.
1154 For example, if I want to go to a store and I struggle to talk to a storekeeper because perhaps English isn't their first language, it might be their third or fourth language, their English might be broken, we're trying to write back and forth, they would prefer to talk, I can't speak with them, that struggle we experience every day. And we don't only experience that struggle, the general community, non-deaf people, do as well.
1155 Do you have anything to share, Michael?
1156 MR. ZAGOZDZON (interpreted): My family moved here from Poland when I was seven. I went to school in Milton. My father has five languages: sign language, Polish, German, English and Polish sign language, so those are five, and to make phone calls through a TTY is a huge barrier. He used to rely on me to talk to the bank, to talk to the doctor, to make an appointment.
1157 One day my mother wasn't feeling well and she had a stomach cramp, and she depended on me, when I was 12 years of age, to explain to the doctor what her issues were. That was very uncomfortable for me. We've had lots of experiences like that growing up and having to talk on the TTY for my parents.
1158 So it was quite frustrating for them. If they could have signed through VRS, they would have been able to explain their own issues.
1159 And often they couldn't use the TTY to talk about various appointments they needed to make or different people that they needed to meet with, and so they would have to drive in person and meet with that person to get their thoughts or feelings across.
1160 When I went away to school or I was gone to travel, they would wait for me to come back weeks before they could get their needs met if they needed to speak to a lawyer or a doctor, or even to order a simple pizza they didn't. They rely heavily on their sign language.
1161 My father's employed and he's a mathematician. He's bright and he can sign in many languages, but it's difficult for him to express himself in written English. If we had VRS, he would have been able to make all of these phone calls independently.
1162 So just imagine. I am sure there are many other individuals like him who have depended on their children to interpret for them, and that is not healthy, mentally healthy, for those kids. If we provide VRS, then all will have equal-access communication and to make their phone calls and have that quality of life and independence that we all require and need.
1163 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
1164 The OAD has stated that no restricted schedules should be considered.
1165 My question is: would that apply in the short term and the long term? Given the current interpreter shortages, is an initially restricted schedule reasonable?
1166 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): The short answer is no.
1167 We want the equivalent human rights to our hearing counterparts, and we're afraid if we say yes what the consequences of that would be. So our short answer and final answer would be no.
1168 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): My question to you is how many of you are limited to making your phone calls between 9 and 5? I have a 9-to-5 job. I don't get home until 6. I tend to make my personal calls and appointments in the evening and on the weekend. If you're going to limit that time or have a restricted availability for VRS, how am I going to make my calls? Only at lunch?
1169 If you build it, they will come. You know that famous movie Field of Dreams, that applies here. If you build it, they will come. I know you're concerned about interpreters, or availability of the interpreters. It will work itself out.
1170 How would you feel if you only had access to your phone from 9 to 5? I'm sure you make your personal phone calls after that and before, and we would like the same privilege.
1171 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
1172 I take your point with respect to if you build it, they will come, but there is information on the record which indicates that the training required for interpreters to build up the level of requisite skill and expertise in order to actually provide meaningful VRS service to users takes a fair number of years, so...
1173 And I think the Mission Consulting report reflects the fact that investments need to be made in order to build up the body, the supply of interpreters such that a quality VRS service can be provided, so...
1174 I mean I take your point with respect to wanting a service that meets your needs, but the specific limitation based on the human resource aspect has to be addressed in some way.
1175 Can you address that point?
1176 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Well, during my presentation, I did speak to that. I did think that maybe it would be a consideration to contact the CIC.
1177 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Right.
1178 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): I know that there are interpreters and interpreting programs in the States that we might be able to connect and use, and there also is the 200 available interpreters currently working for the Video Relay Services for the States. So there's all these possible solutions that I presented in our presentation that we could be addressing, we could be looking at.
1179 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): I work at George Brown College as an instructor in the Interpreter Training Program, and I've worked there now for five years. I have noticed every year the number of graduates increases on an annual basis. The first-year students already have a basic knowledge in American Sign Language. The reason for that is that many of these students come with some level of the American Sign Language before they even start the program because they're teaching it in high schools. So that raises the standards in itself.
1180 Don't quote me, but I've heard that in elementary schools now they're starting to teach American Sign Language, and that will have a great impact on our community, and society in general.
1181 Also, individuals will see there's opportunity for work. Right now lots of individuals may be interest in American Sign Language, but feel that there isn't any opportunity for employment, but if we promote that at an early age, then that will expand our pool of interpreters in the long run.
1182 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, fair point.
1183 So your position is that there should be no restricted schedule, and in order to deal with the interpreter shortage we should canvas support from other departments that have interpreters on staff or repatriate Canadian interpreters working for American companies.
1184 What about a potential solution whereby -- and I'm just throwing this out there as a theory -- we could use some American interpreters until the body or the number of Canadian interpreters is enough to deal with the demand?
1185 Okay. So if that's on the table --
1186 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Yes, why not?
1187 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Sure. Okay, but --
1188 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): That's something that we could look at.
1189 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Sure.
1190 But if that is something to be on the table, it does run counter to the arguments of some intervenors that this should be a Canadian-made solution, focused on Canada and Canadian talent, Canadian resources, Canadian call centres. So there's the potential that if you take that particular approach, a Canadian-made solution may not evolve naturally.
1191 What are your comments on that?
1192 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Well, that's applicable to all other fields as well: doctors, lawyers, nurses. They're afraid that our professionals will be taken across the border. But if we have Canadians that are available, they should be our primary focus, and we should hire them first, of course.
1193 And there is a process for a work visa to work here, so we'll have to be sure that there's an actual shortage here in Canada before we hire them, and then we can give them a temporary work visa.
1194 So I think that is a temporary solution that we could look at until we develop our pool here in Canada.
1195 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
1196 I noticed in your submission today you stressed the importance of a demand-driven model rather than a supply-driven model.
1197 In your submission paper you referred to a combination of both demand-driven and supply-driven models which could be developed to avoid the potential to inflate the number of minutes of use, which I suppose has occurred in America.
1198 Can you provide any more information about this kind of hybrid model?
1199 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Well, just because of the concerns that we have mentioned, this is a secondary solution that we propose.
1200 We consider the demand model to be superior; however, it's a recommendation we made in order to solve some of the underlying issues.
1201 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): In that situation, for example, phone companies that use TTYs, for instance like Bell, say we used Bell and they were busy, and all of their interpreters were all taken up, and so we transferred over TELUS, or then to another service provider, so we could do something like that in this instance.
1202 We could have three or four or five third parties providing VRS services, and if they aren't able to meet the demand, then it would just logically go to the other service providers until someone is available.
1203 How that works again is for those service providers to get together and to figure out the feasibility of that kind of a model. They would have to work that out amongst themselves.
1204 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
1205 Some general questions about funding: what rate should VRS users pay to access VRS? And as a secondary portion of that question: how does the requirement for an Internet subscription affect the affordability of VRS?
1206 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): I'm sure, on average, an individual's phone bill would be $50 a month -- well, mine is. So if I paid $50.67 and we raise that 20 cents per month, that would be $50.87, to be honest with you, I'm not going to notice that. If it's a dollar or two more, I may notice that. But if it's only 20 cents a month, I'm not going to notice that.
1207 If someone told me that was because so others could have access to the phone, I would support that. I would be in favour of something like that.
1208 And what was your first question?
1209 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: It was a simple question about the rate VRS users should pay. I think you actually answered that first...
1210 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Okay. Thank you.
1211 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Great.
1212 Some intervenors have commented on the requirement for a landline subscription in addition to an Internet subscription in order to access VRS.
1213 Can you comment on the impact of having the landline subscription in addition to an Internet subscription?
1214 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): I will share with you the experience that I've had.
1215 Upon moving here from the States four years ago, I right away bought my mobile device. When I wanted to connected to IP Relay, I wasn't able to.
1216 The service requires you to have landline in order to access the IP Relay service, so then that forces me to purchase both a landline and my cell phone plan in order to be able to access IP Relay. I mean what if I wanted to contact 9-1-1 emergency service while I was out on my mobile?
1217 It forces me to have a landline just to be able to accomplish that.
1218 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): Also, George mentioned earlier in his presentation that often deaf people will pay for a voice plan with their mobile phone $20 or $30 a month, that I never use, for example. That's a waste.
1219 I'm done with that, quite frankly. I would rather just have an Internet line.
1220 I have been paying for a voice plan on my phone that I haven't been able to access or use.
1221 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): It would be just as simple to supplement. Instead of having the voice plan, allow a deaf user, subscriber, to have increased data usage.
1222 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Right.
1223 Okay, thank you. Thank you very much.
1224 In terms of the VRS service, I wanted to ask you about ancillary services, such as video mail, call waiting.
1225 So my question is in two parts: which of these ancillary-type services do you feel is necessary to be provided or offered with the VRS service? And secondly, would you object to users of VRS paying a rate for each of those services in the same way that the hearing population pays a rate to access those services as well?
1226 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Yes, that would speak to the functional equivalents that we're wanting to obtain. Our hearing counterparts do pay for those additional ancillary services, and we would expect to pay for those as well.
1227 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
1228 There are a number of technical challenges in providing access to 9-1-1 service for VRS users, such as automatically determining a VRS user's location when they call 9-1-1, and, therefore, VRS providers wouldn't be able to automatically route the call to the correct public safety access point without the appropriate information.
1229 Do you have any solutions or potential suggestions to resolve that challenge?
1230 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): We could probably look to the States, our counterparts in the States, at this time. They're currently in the process of developing that.
1231 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
1232 You've submitted that the CRTC should provide total management through regulation by hiring several qualified deaf individuals, along with hearing counterparts, to facilitate between the CRTC, the TSSPs and the VRS providers.
1233 You've also recommended that it consist of at least 51 per cent deaf stakeholders through its board.
1234 So in terms of general questions about this structure and this governance structure, how do you foresee or what do you see is the role of this proposed third-party administrator, its primary responsibilities?
1235 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): For governance monitoring, to start with you're going to rely heavily on that board, because they're going to make sure that there is a standard met, the quality is met.
1236 There are many factors involved, in terms of the startup costs. I'm not experienced, but I know there are lots of people in the community that are qualified to help you set up a governancing model.
1237 You mentioned a concern with the code of ethics earlier this morning. Those are one of those items that that board would oversee and investigate and set up appropriate policies and procedures in place that are in adherence with the Canadian human rights.
1238 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, great.
1239 As you mentioned, it's not necessarily your area of expertise, but I asked you: what would be the role of the third-party administrator? Concurrent with that, what would you foresee to be the role of the CRTC if such a third-party administrator existed?
1240 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): We envision that the CRTC would sit in that board as well. I know that you have telecommunication experts, board advisors, you have your areas of expertise, as commissioners, radio and telecommunication, and so I would expect that one of you would sit on that board as well.
1241 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Oh, I see. Okay.
1242 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Do you currently have any disability advocacy groups or committees that address these kind of issues in any other body within the CRTC?
1243 I'm assuming that there's a number of different groups and bodies that the CRTC regulates, and so do you have a disability advisory group that is connected in some way to those groups? So that's kind of what we were thinking about here, and that's what we're thinking about implementing for this: is to have that committee, to be able to facilitate, provide information, almost be a connecting organization between the CRTC and the community?
1244 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
1245 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): You'd be able to learn a lot about all the various issues from us, through our experience. We'd be able to share that with you.
1246 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And that's a fair point.
1247 Typically, the Commission does not actively participate on the day-to-day functions or management of an organization of that nature. We have a social policy team that deals with social policy, disability issues, both in the broadcasting and telecommunications industries, but they generally tend to act as liaisons. They open lines of dialogue.
1248 But it's usually at arm's length and these organizations run their own day-to-day functions, and will either report to us or they'll participate in working with us for research matters or for monitoring matters, so...
1249 But thank you for your response. It's very informative.
1250 I have one final question.
1251 I'm wondering if you're familiar with the UQAM SIVET model, through which VRS would be provided through an interpreter training-based organization. I was wondering what your views on that model were.
1252 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): By what model, please?
1253 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: The University of Quebec and Montreal and the SIVET model.
1254 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): We're not familiar with that. We've just recently learned about that model --
1255 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
1256 MS YOUNGS (interpreted): -- and so I would suggest that you speak to another organization or group. I think they're coming up this week that could speak to it better than we could.
1257 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Great.
1258 I actually do have one more question, so sorry.
1259 In your submission you proposed there should be a VRS Internet package which would provide the minimum upload and download speeds necessary for the VRS.
1260 What would you suggest those speeds be, if you have that expertise or knowledge on hand, and what would you suggest the price of that Internet package be?
1261 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): I have read a few of the interventions and I trust the expertise that they have consulted with on that. So I would just bounce that answer over to the other interventions that had those answers included, based on their expertise that they hired in order to provide that.
1262 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Terrific.
1263 Thank you for being here today. Those are my questions.
1264 THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you.
1265 I have sort of a request rather than a question. It's a bit of a question.
1266 But we're regulators, so that's what we do. We don't build things per se. We don't lay fibre, we don't run wire, we don't make TV shows, and we wouldn't be the operators directly of a VRS, if there was one.
1267 So we can say that there shall be such a thing or not, but if we do say that there shall be such a thing we need to know what that thing looks like and not just outcome.
1268 Many people have made, quite rightly and within their rights, very passionate points regarding the need and the desire for this.
1269 So if you can't today, if you can consider replying and coming back with as much detail as you can on what the governance model for your preferred entity would look like, what the operational model might look like, what ties it might have to the industry, with expertise there, or what ties it might have to us, that would be really, really helpful.
1270 That's a lot of what we're looking to get here: is as much detail on preferred governments' and operational models for such an entity, if there was one. Because we can't tell people where to work, we can consider various structures that might be attractive places for people to work.
1271 At the end of the day, if such an entity exists, it's going to exist to serve you, so it's really, really helpful for us to hear from you not just what you want, and what you want it to do, but what you think it should look like so it would effectively deliver that.
1272 If you have anything to add on that right now, great; if you don't, feel free to give it some thought and use the reply period for it.
1273 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): And we have up until November the 17th for the end of the reply period?
1274 THE CHAIRMAN: Is that the date, the 15th?
1275 THE SECRETARY: November 15th.
1276 THE CHAIRMAN: November 15th, 1-5.
1277 MR. POSTLEWAIT (interpreted): Okay.
1278 So we would be able to gather some of that information for you and submit it to you again.
1279 We will endeavour to consult the community and come up with what we would envision would be an ideal model, and be sure to submit that before November 15th.
1280 THE CHAIRMAN: Super. Thank you very much.
1281 Any other questions?
1282 Thank you. We will take a 10-minute break.
--- Upon recessing at 1629
--- Upon resuming at 1648
1283 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order please. We are about to resume, everyone. Thank you very much.
1284 Madame la Secrétaire.
1285 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1286 Before we hear the presentation of the Alberta Association of the Deaf, we would just like to announce that le Centre québécois pour la déficience auditive will be appearing tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m., so this is our last intervener for today.
1287 Now we will hear the presentation of the Alberta Association of the Deaf who is appearing by video conference from Edmonton.
1288 Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
1289 Thank you.
1290 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Thank you, Jade; thank you, everyone. The PowerPoints are up on the laptop?
1291 THE SECRETARY: Yes, they are.
1292 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Great. Good afternoon, Bon après-midi.
1293 My name is Linda Cundy and I work as an education consultant for the deaf and hard of hearing in Edmonton public schools. I have served on Alberta Association of Deaf's Board for many years and I have been involved with VRS Task Force in Alberta from the beginning.
1294 I feel privileged to represent Albertan's deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and hearing alike.
1295 The ASL to English interpreters are Tiffany Goodkey and Marty Taylor.
1296 We would also like to thank Alberta School for the Deaf here in Edmonton, our community partner, for making their video conferencing room available. A special thank you to Mark and Jade as well for your co-operation in setting up for our presentation.
1297 We believe that Alberta Association of the Deaf has the longest history of efforts to implement VRS in Canada. Canadian Association of the Deaf has been trying for a national video relay service since 2004.
1298 Alberta Association of the Deaf actually began deliberations with TELUS in 2003. I vividly remember the exact place one grey afternoon when Alberta Association of the Deaf attempted to demonstrate to senior management of TELUS how VRS worked. Again, that was in 2003. They then showed us their innovative in-house signer on their website, which was an inset signer. It was a blurry inset of a signer relaying the dialogue between two callers.
1299 We attempted to explain the importance of picture quality for visual clarity, hence we offered free consultation at the time. At the time, Alberta Association of the Deaf thought it would be more tangible to implement VRS on a provincial level before it would become nation-wide.
1300 And, as history would have it, TELUS underwent a major Union strike moments before -- again, that was in 2003 -- moments after our historical demonstration.
1301 So today, being the first day of the public hearing, it seems appropriate to start with a bit of background information.
1302 Throughout the week you will hear from experts representing people such as stakeholders, consumers, businesses and telecommunications service providers. By the end of the week, as the hearing concludes, hopefully you will feel confident about the implementation of VRS.
1303 We anticipate this week being the final hurdle, soon to be a milestone in CRTC history through deaf eyes.
1304 If you could move to the next slide, please?
1305 Are we still good?
1306 THE SECRETARY: Yes, thank you.
1307 MS CUNDY (interpreted): As you see here, in the U.S., on September 6, 2004, People Magazine printed this article about the creation of the video phone and video relay service, titled:
"A Quiet Breakthrough
You're deaf, and you want to make a simple phone call. Hopeless--"
1308 Until finally they invented the video phone and video relay service.
1309 Now, I mean we are approaching 2014 and we know it is not hopeless for deaf people to make a simple phone call anywhere in Canada. Little do people realize how long we have waited.
1310 Next slide. We are on the third slide now.
1311 So I used this diagram from the CRTC's website and a quote from the CRTC's 3-year plan from 2013 to 2016 says:
"Canadians are at the centre of the communication system and should have access to world-class system in which they are reflected, that promotes innovation and contributes to enriching their lives as citizens, creators and consumers. The CRTC strives to be an institution that is trusted by Canadians."
1312 According to the plan, CRTC's activities are based on three pillars, the first one being "Create", "Connect" and "Protect".
1313 Now, we understand that VRS has fallen under the second pillar, "Connect". However, we believe that VRS falls under all three.
1314 First, under the "Create" pillar:
"CRTC encourages the creation of programming that reflects Canada's diversity and enables Canadians to participate in their country's democratic and cultural life."
1315 Deaf Canadians fit right in the diversity category, being so because they lead rich cultural lives, using two languages, being either American sign language and English or LSQ and French. That was the "Create" pillar.
1316 The second pillar being "Connect", which the CRTC:
"... includes services that facilitate access to the communication system by Canadians with disabilities."
1317 As many of us believe, deaf people are a linguistic minority group who constantly experience systemic discrimination through societal attitude and environmental barriers, which then disabled them from equal access to communication.
1318 THE SECRETARY: Can you just wait one minute, please, we have a technical issue.
--- Technical difficulties
1319 THE SECRETARY: Okay, you can continue. Sorry.
1320 MS CUNDY (interpreted): I'm not sure how far back I need to go. I'm just going to start on the second paragraph -- excuse me, the fourth paragraph describing the second pillar.
1321 The second pillar being "Connect", which the CRTC:
"... includes services that facilitate access to the communication system by Canadians with disabilities."
1322 As many of us believe, deaf people are a linguistic minority group who constantly experience systemic discrimination through societal attitude and environmental barriers. Those barriers disable them from equal access to communication.
1323 Hearing people benefit from VRS as well. The majority of deaf people's families, employers, doctors, employees, lawyers, government service providers are all hearing and therefore also would rely on VRS to communicate.
1324 Video relay service will eliminate systemic discrimination and communication barriers.
1325 Third, under the "Protect" pillar, the CRTC promotes compliance with its regulations.
1326 Now, we would recommend the inclusion of community agencies that provide interpreting services, which would then enable the CRTC to protect the quality of VRS over a long period of time, as well as their interpreting services. Those agencies employ interpreters who are evaluated and held accountable for quality interpreting services.
1327 Next slide, please. Is everyone there with us?
1328 THE SECRETARY: Yes. Thank you.
1329 MS CUNDY (interpreted): I will just five you time to review the slide quickly, if you want to read it over.
1330 Alberta Association of the Deaf proposing the following model, it would be close to your example of Model A for VRS funding and administration. Model A clearly outlines the funding model, the revenue source, administrator, platform, locations, network and consumer devices.
1331 The only exception to the Model A is that the VRS providers -- one part comments about the VRS providers inviting competitive bids for one provider of ASL and one provider of LSQ.
1332 Now, we agree that there would be only one provider as well as one location for LSQ, that is, for example, through SIVET in Montreal. That would be the call centre specifically for LSQ.
1333 As for ASL to English service, we would like what is described in Model B. Now, a quote taken from Model B says that each TSP will be responsible for providing the service through a third party and we would like to incorporate that into the Model A. So that's our proposed model as you see on the screen in front of you.
1334 As you can see, in our proposed model, TSPs create, if I can say, VRS by providing the Internet access. The infrastructure is widely available and so the TSPs also would be providing existing infrastructure for the video relay service.
1335 Now, in the middle diagram, under "Pre", you can see we emphasize one platform, with access to two bilingual communication systems, ALS in English and LSQ in French.
1336 One platform would reflect interoperability through centralized contribution funds. Those funds are accumulated through a designated formula such as a percentage of telecommunications revenue which is determined through CRTC's mandate for TSPs.
1337 On the bottom diagram we see community interpreting agencies serving as call centres for VRS, with funds channeled through the TSPs. And again, the TSPs would be mandated by the CRTC to collaborate with the providers.
1338 Most importantly, we expect a mandated VRS Advisory Board that brings in a deaf voice throughout the process of implementation and for sustainability. The Board would be composed of deaf and hard of hearing and hearing representatives from each province across Canada.
1339 Next slide, which is our final slide.
1340 For Canadians who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and hearing, functional equivalency is the most important feature in VRS. Functional equivalency means that deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people have exactly the same choice to pick their own devices as hearing people do. They can decide for themselves how much they want to pay for specific products based on their budgets, their needs and their preference. The kind of calls hearing people make and how they make them, deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people deserve the exact same opportunity to do so, and that's what I mean by functional equivalency.
1341 Interoperability is another important consideration. Deaf people should be able to access VRS with whatever phone systems they so choose, for example, using an iPhone, an iPad, mobile devices, personal computers, and so on.
1342 There are also multiple off-the-shelf apps and software that can incorporate VRS to allow video conferencing between two or more parties. Deaf people should be able to use different products that allow access to VRS with whoever, whenever, wherever.
1343 You know how people in real estate emphasize three points, those three being location, location and location. In the same thread, Alberta Association of the Deaf's position is that the three most important features for VRS are functional equivalency, functional equivalency and functional equivalency.
1344 Alberta Association of the Deaf looks forward to an immediate implementation since they have had 10 years of dialogue, negotiations, research, a pilot and feasibility studies conducted. All in all, this may seem like a prelude of what you will be hearing for the remainder of the week. And yes, it is a prelude. Participants in this public hearing throughout the week will emphasize basically the same thing as we have discussed here today.
1345 Alberta Association of the Deaf thanks the Panel for your dedicated commitment to provide communication access that is unique to deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing and hearing Canadians. Such access allows us all to be in touch with each other, be it for employment, legal, medical, educational or social-related calls.
1346 So we leave the fate of a "world-class" communication access in good hands -- pun intended.
1347 Thank you very much; merci beaucoup.
1348 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. The pun was very much enjoyed, if you can't see the room
1349 Commissioner Simpson has some questions for you.
1350 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: As soon as Commissioner Simpson swallows his water. Excuse me.
1351 Ms Cundy, I am very, very appreciative of the effort you have made and the patience you have exhibited as we lurch through the day a little behind schedule. That seems to be the way it works around here.
1352 For the record -- I am going to put this to both you and staff -- because in our briefing books we have been referring to the funding models as Models A, B, C and D, yet in the Notice of Consultation they are referred to as Models 1, 2, 3 and 4, and I have had it under the advice of staff that the two models are the same, 1 is A, 2 is B, but I'm just going to caution you that if there are any differences I am not aware of them and so I'm going to interpret that your reference to 1, 2, 3 and 4 is A, B, C and D, as we have been looking at them in our internal briefings.
1353 The first question I have for you is with respect to the funding. You have been very articulate with respect to the overarching notion of this being a service that will remove an undue hardship and that it is a basic right, but I would like to get to the part that I don't think you have dealt with enough for my satisfaction and that is to do with the costs.
1354 With respect to the funding, you have indicated that you believe a centralized fund is the approach that we should be looking at and I take that to mean, then that this fund should be either coming out of reserves of government or should be coming out of some type of a subsidy coming from each subscriber to services in a general universal sense.
1355 Do I have that correct?
1356 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Correct. It's correct.
1357 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you very much.
1358 The next question I have for you is, with respect to the cost of the service, which is some wires and technology and a whole lot of human resource, there is the issue of access which I would like to pull apart for you.
1359 Do you feel that -- just state for the record, please, that when you say that this service should be fully funded, do you interpret that to mean everything including access costs for Internet or that a portion or all of the Internet costs should rest with the user? Because there are access costs for basic Internet and then there's the cost of actually using the service. They are two separate items and we have been asking groups for their opinion as to whether all or a portion of the Internet services provision cost should be included in this fund or whether some portion of it should be paid for by the user because they would be getting other benefits of the Internet?
1360 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Okay. No, there's no expectation from the CRTC to cover the cost of access to Internet services. That's just supporting the access through the Internet service, but the user, the businesses, and so on, would pay them the cost for their services, for access to the services where it would be funded through centralized contribution funds.
1361 We would expect that each household still pay their access fees, either they pay for a plan or a package in order to receive Internet service in order to access VRS. It's similar to the answers you have received all day.
1362 So the service providers would be the TFPs. We wouldn't expect the CRTC to pay for that access to the Internet.
1363 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, I think --
1364 MS CUNDY (interpreted): So again, it's the centralized contribution funds that would cover the implementation of VRS.
1365 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much, that's very clear.
1366 With respect to that long period of time you spoke of from 2003 onward, when VRS first came into the realm of possibility, it was pretty much a proprietary technology and yet today we have a variety of means by which VRS can be accomplished.
1367 My question is, do you have any position with respect to technology? Should this VRS service be as widely accessible by the broadest number of devices technically possible, or should it be narrowed for reliability and quality to perhaps a proprietary platform?
1368 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Meaning interoperability, we would want to be able to generalize through any -- but also wanting to produce the best quality of service as well.
1369 If we are focussed on just quality it will maybe never be implemented, so the quality is obviously part of the implementation of VRS and -- sorry, I forgot your second question.
1370 Sorry, so yes, VRS should be able to be accessed through any technological device.
1371 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
1372 I had asked questions earlier relating to the availability of service and one of the prime considerations beyond human rights issues and other issues of that importance it gets down into the cost issues again, and if we were to find that a phased-in approach is necessary for purposes of ensuring quality, compatibility and also a studying of the costs as we get more experienced in providing this service, what is your position with the idea that perhaps it might not be, in the short or even mid-term, a 24-hour service? Would that require users to also have to maintain a message relay system in their home or other means by which they could access emergency services, which is the nub of my question?
1373 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Okay. Alberta Association of the Deaf, similar to the other organizations that spoke today, I feel like there is a misconception of 24-hour service. We want it to be accessible 24-hours, but at the beginning we wouldn't need it necessarily to be 24/7, being so that each call centre -- for example, if we had several call centres across Canada, each centre would not have to be open 24/7, but they would be accessible 24/7 because of the time zone differences. So B.C.'s centre may close earlier, but out east you would still have call centres open and available to facilitate those calls.
1374 So although we are speaking of 24/7 service, we don't necessarily mean that each call centre be fully operational for 24-hours a day, they would have a staggered schedule in order to provide 24-hours accessibility.
1375 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
1376 We had heard a statement earlier that I think was anecdotal, but I would like your input on it, that because of a lack of this type of service, an alarmingly high number of individuals who are profoundly or completely deaf are finding their way into having to require social assistance, and I'm curious with this in mind as to what barriers the cost of Internet service might provide to these people.
1377 First of all, do you find this is an experience that you are having in western Canada, and in particular Alberta where there are a lot of people on disability or social assistance and would the cost of Internet be a barrier to the service for them?
1378 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Well, if I can talk about a vicious cycle for a moment here, as deaf children grow up within the environment, with a poor education system, it leads to, then, poor quality jobs, underemployment, and so on, and that's a fact, therefore they couldn't afford, then, the service. I agree with that -- excuse me, Internet services.
1379 But the value of a video relay services, they would move mountains in order to make those costs covered. We would need to figure out -- they would figure out a way in order to make sure they had access to video relay services.
1380 And many different -- just like telecommunication providers offered several different plans based on your budget and the means that you have, we would expect the same for VRS, again related to the functional equivalency.
1381 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much. That's very effective.
1382 Are there any other barriers that you are aware of? I'm thinking in this instance of how deaf people in Alberta, and perhaps even western Canada, are aware of VRS as a potential service? Is it a highly recognized service or a highly understood service or is there education and information that has to be provided as this service comes into being?
1383 MS CUNDY (interpreted): And as I said, the Alberta Association of the Deaf has been involved with this for 10 years so I mean we are very well versed with the VRS system and the services, and so on. I don't believe there is much lack of information or education on the service, but as we share as representatives of stakeholders -- I mean we have been involved for 10 years now.
1384 Red Deer and maybe not so much northern Alberta, but yes, I would say that most people in Alberta and western Canada know about the VRS service.
1385 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: There has been some concern over privacy and confidentiality standards and it has been brought up several times that there may be a challenge with respect to the need to look at privacy and confidentiality should an interpreter be finding themselves in a situation where there is the need or the perceived need to intervene if someone is talking to a family member and -- the instance that was used this morning as an example, was contemplating suicide or doing something that would, you know, be harmful to themselves or others.
1386 Do you think we need to -- do you have a position on privacy? Is it absolute, such as it is with a lawyer and a doctor relationship, or is there something that should be looked at here?
1387 MS CUNDY (interpreted): If you look at the American model, all interpreters go through training of what's appropriate and what's not appropriate for an intervener not to intervene. They are trained for that. There is a Code of Ethics that they need to abide by. As well, there are crisis hotlines out there, but there is a protocol that would be expected for VRS interpreters to follow and to take that kind of training in order to respond appropriately in such situations.
1388 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. On the subject of interpreters, what is your feeling with respect to the -- I don't like to use the term "inventory", but the availability of qualified interpreters in Alberta should we look at your suggestion of regional interpretive centres or regional VRS centres. Is there a sufficient availability right now or is this going to create a problem.
1389 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Again, that's why I would suggest several call centres, four, five, six across Canada and that way economically the wealth is spread across Canada and the opportunity for interpreters to choose which city they want to work in. If there's one VRS service provided only in Toronto, it forces, then, interpreters to locate to Toronto.
1390 And you don't need to provide new infrastructure, new buildings, or so on. We have centres in Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, and so on that we can then use the infrastructure for VRS services, again related to the third-party providers, and so we already have the infrastructure in several different large cities across Canada and the economic wealth would then be spread across Canada.
1391 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes. This is a bit of a different question, I don't know if it's even relevant or even coherent, but it begs asking, given the local of Alberta and the percentage of non-English, non-French population. We have a tremendous diffusion of other languages in the west and I'm wondering if there is an issue with signers who are not capable of English or French and would this be an issue that we would have to contemplate to be able to satisfy all requirements?
1392 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Well, that's a fair question. Yes, there are many deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind people who are from Third World countries or who immigrate to Canada and I certainly see an influx in immigrants to Canada. I also work as a deaf interpreter myself where I have met deaf Syrians who do not know English, ASL, LSQ or French, but they are beginning to be able to communicate with a visual language. And that's again important for those people who do arrive to Canada to be able to access VRT, because they absolutely have no chance at text, using written English to communicate their needs.
1393 So yes, it would be beneficial for all of those people as well.
1394 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm so glad I asked that question. Thank you very much, Ms Cundy. I'm finished my questions, thank you very much.
1395 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Thank you. You're welcome.
1396 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. You mentioned that VRS could be of assistance to the deaf-blind. Could you tell me how that might be?
1397 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Sure. There is a large group of deaf-blind individuals who are not necessarily totally blind, but they are legally blind.
1398 And it's a growing group of deaf-blind individuals and so they require what we call tactile sign language. Now, if there was no video relay service, they have no access to the phone, no access to brail or English, they may have Usher Syndrome, a narrowing of the vision, and so the VRS would use a fourth person in that situation for the dialogue. They would have the deaf-blind person, as well as their own intervener who relays the information in sign language, then the interpreter, through VRS services, and the individual that they are calling.
1399 And some deaf-blind individuals are still able to see a larger screen and it goes directly through the video relay service themselves, but they are a very isolated group and I wanted to make sure we incorporated them today in our presentation. Their needs are very, very important and we have to make sure that they are as a priority for this service as well and so I am advocating on their behalf for Alberta Association of the Deaf. We would like to support them as best we can.
1400 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Of all the countries in the world that have VRS, which would you point us to as having a model that you think we should emulate?
1401 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Without really looking at other countries, I mean we can develop our own. It's there, it's ready 10 years ago. The model is there. It is paralleled to what the U.S. has started with, but we are ready to make it out own and incorporate what works and what doesn't work. But Canada has their own model ready to go through the Internet and providing the access using apps, and so on.
1402 I recognize the question. I haven't gone through the research myself and I know the CRTC is interested in the Australian model. Geographically we may be similar, but we are looking at one call centre for all of Australia. I'm not sure if that's 100 percent true or not, but we are looking at three large cities on one side of the country. But the economy, the wealth is then specifically to that one location and I don't feel that that applies to Canada.
1403 If we look at the U.S. model, it is constantly changing and we are ahead of the game when we are looking at using one platform. The U.S. is now realizing that they should have started with the one platform and dealing with those problems that have emerged, but let us start with it first.
1404 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. In the trial -- because you talked about having regional centres and I'm sure the data was there someplace, but forgive me for repeating it probably -- but once they stopped going 24/7, were there any issues with time zones, accessibility across the country, because we do have six time zones?
1405 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Are you speaking of the U.S. or of Canada?
1406 THE CHAIRPERSON: No.
1407 MS CUNDY (interpreted): I'm sorry, if you could repeat the question?
1408 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm sorry. When the trial took place in Canada, the TELUS trial, when it cut back from 24/7 to a limited hours model, did that impact service in one time zone more than another? For instance, if somebody was trying to make a call from Alberta to Vancouver and it was 11:30 at night in Vancouver, was it already too late in Alberta?
1409 MS CUNDY (interpreted): I just need to clarify. I was part of the 18-month trial with TELUS and it was a controlled pilot, meaning that there were three major cities, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
1410 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
1411 MS CUNDY (interpreted): So specific people were given video phones in order to be part of the pilot. So that means we haven't experienced the time zone, we haven't included eastern Canada whatsoever, it was just within Alberta and B.C. for the study.
1412 So I just want to be clear that you are understanding the statistics again don't present the real picture. The trial really emphasizes -- it was a one-hour difference between B.C. and Alberta and, again, the 70 percent of video phone user to video phone user, and so one, to be fair, I would like to address that, and to be fair to TELUS as well.
1413 The pilot was very restricted. Sorry, I have just lost my train of thought.
1414 THE CHAIRPERSON: That's okay. The pilot doesn't really have anything to tell us about time zones then, okay.
1415 MS CUNDY (interpreted): That's right. That's right. If we are looking at the percentage of concerns, the low percentage of usage of VRS, instead of it being point-to-point, that 70 percent of usage being video phone-to-video phone is because Canada -- it was the first time they received VRS services.
1416 It has never -- it was the first time they had even used a video phone. So at the same time VRS was implemented and so nobody was really paying attention to the service as much as they were how to use their video phone and having access to a video phone. It was very new and, as a result, it was a novelty and the statistics were skewed. They didn't know how to use the phone to make video relay service calls to hearing people.
1417 And if it was provided to everybody with a video phones and everyone knew how to use them and access them, then the actual usage of video relay service would absolutely take off. People were just thrilled at the point of the pilot to receive a video phone and so that unfortunately did warp the statistics.
1418 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thank you very much. That concludes our questions, it was an excellent presentation and exchange.
1419 Thank you very much, enjoy the rest of the day.
1420 MS CUNDY (interpreted): Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity.
1421 THE CHAIRPERSON: You're welcome.
1422 We are going to adjourn for the day. Madam Secretary will have some closing remarks, but before we go for the day, we will have plenty of opportunity to thank the interpreters who have earned their pay today and no doubt will continue to, particularly because we are going to be saying farewell to them today who have burned their fingers off the team from CART, who we won't be seeing, thank them for their contribution to the accessibility of our proceeding today.
1423 Madam Secretary...?
1424 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
1425 We will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. with le Centre québécois pour la déficience auditive.
1426 Good night.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1734, to resume on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 0900
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