ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 24 October 2013
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Volume 4, 24 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
24 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
24 October 2013
- iv -
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE / PARA
Sorenson Canada778 / 4588
nWise881 / 5140
UQAM and SIVET925 / 5391
British Columbia Video Relay Services Committee990 / 5803
Mission Consulting1022 / 5962
- v -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking829 / 4819
Undertaking865 / 5032
Undertaking924 / 5374
Undertaking965 / 5624
--- Upon resuming on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 0904
4584 THE SECRETARY: Please take your seats.
4585 Good morning.
4586 We will now start with the presentation of Sorenson Canada.
4587 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues and you have 20 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
4588 MR. KERSHISNIK: Good morning.
4589 Thank you, Madam Secretary.
4590 Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, my name is Paul Kershisnik and I am the Chief Marketing Officer for Sorenson Communications.
4591 It is our pleasure to be here with you today and I would like to introduce the other members of our panel.
4592 To my immediate left is Mike Maddix who is our Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs. Mike doesn't know this but he will be answering all of your questions this morning because today is his birthday and it's the least that we could do.
4593 To Mike's left is Suzie Giroux, our District Manager for Canada.
4594 To my right is Greg Kane from the firm Dentons LLP, who is our legal counsel.
4595 We will now begin our oral comments.
4596 Five years ago, almost to the day, Sorenson Communications made its first public appearance before the Commission. While some of the people appearing for Sorenson, as well as a number of the Commissioners, are different, the issue remains the same, that is, the feasibility of establishing a video relay service (VRS) in Canada.
4597 This time around Sorenson has the interesting distinction of having been described as an "outlier" by the Bell companies. We are familiar with the term "outlier" as it was used by Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling book "Outliers: The Story of Success." We are flattered to have been called outliers when it means having achieved success after devoting a lot of time and effort to a task.
4598 This could well apply to Sorenson Communications, starting with our founder James Sorenson. Mr. Sorenson overcame a childhood of poverty and dyslexia to achieve great success in areas as diverse as medical devices, where he patented, among other things, the plastic catheter and disposable surgical masks, to electronics where our predecessor company invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours of research to invent pivotal video compression software that ultimately led to services as diverse as desktop video conferencing of the highest quality through to computerized heart monitors.
4599 This investment in research also led to Sorenson's VRS technology, developed because Mr. Sorenson was struck by how difficult it was to communicate with a member of his family who was deaf. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours later, his challenge to the Sorenson engineers resulted in the VRS technology we will be discussing this morning.
4600 Sorenson's position has not changed from day one of our participation in CRTC proceedings. We are strong advocates for the introduction of VRS in Canada. This is consistent with our company's mission statement, which is to provide the highest quality communication products and services to all deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.
4601 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry, can you just please slow down your presentation for the interpreters?
4602 MR. KERSHISNIK: Sure.
4603 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
4604 MR. KERSHISNIK: Sorenson has now been working for more than 17 years towards breaking down communication barriers with innovative solutions and high-quality products and services for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in the United States. For more than seven of those years, Sorenson and Sorenson Communications of Canada have been actively monitoring and participating with respect to the feasibility of establishing VRS in Canada.
4605 What is different from our appearance five years ago is the evolution of equipment that enables the provision of VRS. While our video quality was good in 2008, it is now even better with our next generation of videophone, the ntouchVP.
4606 In addition, we now have very robust offerings for mobile with i0s and Android and portable solutions (Mac and PC) that enable consumers to access VRS via cell, smartphones, tablets and laptops along with the more traditional videophone that can be installed at home or at work.
4607 Because of a new feature called Sorenson myPhone, consumers with multiple devices only need one phone number instead of the previous requirement of separate numbers for each device. When a consumer's myPhone number is called, all of their devices will "ring" and the consumer will choose which one they prefer to use in order to communicate.
4608 This technological evolution, and it is continuing every day, means that from the perspective of technology and access there has never been a higher level of functional equivalence for persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing than there is today in the United States.
4609 This advanced technology can be made available in Canada from day one in the event that Sorenson is provided with an opportunity to offer service in this country.
4610 Mr. Chairman, in your opening statement you encouraged parties to provide as many facts as possible. We will be pleased to do this and share with you the benefits of our 17 years of experience in developing, implementing and providing VRS service in the United States and Canada.
4611 We will now focus on the questions you indicated you would like to discuss.
4612 What are the benefits of video relay service?
4613 In the Notice of Hearing for this proceeding that you issued in March, the Commission made the statement:
"...the Commission recognized that VRS provides significant benefit to those with hearing or speech impairments who communicate via sign language."
4614 We would be pleased to repeat, and it is not an exaggeration, to say that VRS is a transformative technology. Furthermore, it is the only technology that will permit functionally equivalent service for persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.
4615 We would ask you to think about it this way. This hearing has been conducted in a way that is essentially a live version of VRS, with superb interpretation services that have permitted real-time communication between persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing and hearing. You could not have conducted this hearing using TTY or IP Relay. If you had, you would still be conducting your questions with the Canadian Hearing Society who appeared first thing on Monday morning.
4616 The final word, of course, should go to those who have had direct experience with and without VRS. The TELUS Trial will provide you with ample evidence, supported by the strong endorsement by TELUS. You have also heard from many others in this hearing who have come before us, for example, Tatiana Kamaeva from Vancouver who told you how valuable VRS was to her during the TELUS Trial.
4617 The evidence before the Commission for some time now is overwhelming and it is clear that VRS meets the needs of people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing better than the current relay technologies or any other technology available today for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
4618 MS GIROUX: Are the necessary interpreter resources available?
4619 The answer is unequivocally "yes." It is important to emphasize the amount of experience we have gained in Canada since we first established a sign language interpreting centre in Toronto in February of 2007. Building upon the success of our Toronto centre, we have opened call centres from coast to coast in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax.
4620 We are also proud to say that because we have established these centres it has encouraged the highly qualified interpreters who reside in Canada to stay here through meaningful employment with Sorenson. Our active training program means that we have also enhanced and expanded the pool of qualified interpreters who are encouraged, in addition to their employment with Sorenson, to work in the communities where they live, to provide important interpreter services to hospitals, courts, schools and all other social and private agencies that rely on their services. On average, interpreters work for Sorenson in Canada 12 hours per week.
4621 A good example of what I am talking about is the fact that some of the interpreters working in this hearing are part-time Sorenson employees. We won't embarrass them by singling them out. The important point is that they do not need Sorenson's permission to do this and they do get Sorenson's encouragement to do it.
4622 The Bell companies have alleged that Sorenson has "downplayed the shortage of interpreters" and that our position "defies common sense and is irresponsible." This is an interesting observation from companies that said they "have no experience in providing sign interpretation services."
4623 Sorenson has had more experience with the issue of interpreter availability for VRS than any other service provider in this proceeding. VRS does not put an insatiable demand upon this critical human resource. As we have demonstrated in all of the cities in the United States and Canada where we have centres, VRS becomes an important catalyst for interpreter growth and development. The fact is that VRS drives interpreter supply and is a positive influence in a community.
4624 MR. MADDIX: Implications of VRS for Emergency Calls and Caller Privacy.
4625 We recognize that 9-1-1 calls are the most important calls a person ever makes. If Sorenson were selected to be a VRS provider in Canada, we would enter into immediate negotiations with our 9-1-1 technology partner to facilitate the ability to process 9-1-1 calls throughout Canada.
4626 This would involve:
4627 (i) prioritizing 9-1-1 calls above all other calls to minimize any delay in reaching an interpreter;
4628 (ii) using the location information provided by the consumer to determine the correct PSAP location for the call; and
4629 (iii) route the call natively through selective routers with enhanced 9-1-1 information similar to how Voice over IP calls are routed today.
4630 Privacy and confidentiality are crucial elements in the provision of VRS. The issues are the same in the United States. Whether the service is in the United States or Canada, it is important to appreciate that interpreters are professionals and part of their professional responsibility is to maintain absolute confidentiality and ensure the privacy of anything they hear or observe.
4631 You should think of the issue this way. The interpreter is an important part of the telecommunications facilities that enable a communication to take place between a deaf and hearing person. Suzie has suggested that I describe her role, and that of any interpreter, as having the communication go in one ear and out the other just as it goes in one end of a telecommunications system and comes out the other. As a result, they are not a part of the conversation. Interpreters do not go to break or home and talk about the calls that they have just interpreted. The users of VRS, whether they are deaf or hearing, must have absolute confidence in the confidentiality and privacy of what is being discussed.
4632 Costs Related to Implementation
4633 We appreciate the Commission's need to try to establish the cost of the VRS service. We have filed evidence in our intervention and we have responded to written questions from the Commission on this subject. We stand by that evidence and our estimates of the costs.
4634 On Tuesday during its appearance TELUS made a helpful suggestion that we would like to endorse. Pointing to the fact that you have received cost estimates from Mission and Sorenson, respectively, that vary from an annual cost of $32 million to $103 million, TELUS put forward a suggestion of having a competitive procurement process to select a service provider that meets defined service characteristics at the lowest possible cost. Sorenson endorses this suggestion. We believe that it has the potential to put an end to the extensive examination that has gone on for almost seven years about the possible implementation of VRS.
4635 How to Administer VRS
4636 We can also agree with TELUS, as we have in our written submissions, that VRS should be funded through a national fund managed by an independent entity. Other parties in this proceeding are better equipped to speak with you in detail about that structure. We can tell you as a possible service provider that it would be a workable solution.
4637 It has been very clear from the advocacy groups and from our experience with consumers in Alberta and British Columbia that time is of the essence in the implementation of VRS. It was for this reason that we originally suggested utilizing existing fund administrations. We understand that the TELUS suggestion to have the Commission direct a CISC committee to set up a consortium dedicated to VRS funding and administration, similar to the consortium for the National Contribution Fund, would essentially do that.
4638 From the perspective of a possible service provider, we are most interested in the speed of establishing the structure and our ability to deal with the ultimate administrator charged with the responsibility of implementing VRS.
4639 If the TELUS proposal could achieve these goals, then we are pleased to support the company's suggestions.
4640 One suggestion we have made that is different from the TELUS proposal is to use amounts that have been over-recovered by the incumbent local exchange carriers for existing message relay services (MRS). Our proposal is on a going forward basis only and it would mean that ILECs should be required to pay annually by March 31 of any year the excess of MRS revenues over what it has cost them to provide MRS services. We believe this would be a valid regulatory measure on the part of the Commission and it could be directed to the administrative costs related to creating a new contribution fund.
4641 MR. KANE: Mr. Chairman, my colleagues have addressed the questions that were set out in the opening statement you made for this proceeding. I would like to address what we consider to be a new question.
4642 During the course of the hearing the Commission has, in our submission, without notice, raised what appears to be an additional issue or question relevant to the decision you will be making. The way it has been stated is that carriers have an obligation to provide service up to the point of undue hardship for either TSPs or individual consumers. It was explained that this obligation has been derived from the Canadian Human Rights Act and that there is legal advice to support such a position.
4643 This is not an issue or a question that has been raised in either the notice of this hearing -- and for the record, 2013-155 -- or the opening statement by you, Mr. Chairman, at the beginning of this hearing.
4644 We came into this hearing on the understanding that the Commission's jurisdiction on the issue of accessibility was well established. Going back as far as decisions in 1980, the Commission has arrived at decisions relative to section 27 of the Telecommunications Act consistent with policy objectives in paragraphs 7(b) and (h) of the Act and this has led the Commission to make further determinations that the funding for technologies used to address accessibility issues shall be provided by the general body of subscribers.
4645 We have not found in any one of the decisions over a span of some 30 years a test whereby the service would only be approved up to the point of undue hardship. In our submission, this is not surprising because there is no such statutory provision to be found in either the Telecommunications or the Broadcasting Acts.
4646 But there is another element to this new issue. In our observation of how the proceeding is unfolding, that test has led to further questioning and requests such as that to TELUS on Tuesday to provide a monthly amount per consumer in order to demonstrate the impact of this regulatory measure. This is also, in our submission, an unprecedented examination.
4647 Now, what's underlying the examination, in our surmise, is the rationale that consumers will ultimately be responsible for the funding of the service and this raises an interesting area of consideration.
4648 If we go to the Commission's Communications Monitoring Report for 2013, we find a number of areas where the Commission has addressed funding where consumers are ultimately responsible.
4649 Under the section entitled "Connect" we find $132 million for 2012 for the telecommunications contribution and subsidy regime where high cost serving areas were subsidized with TSP contributions. That's been a subject of examination during the hearing of other parties.
4650 But also in a section entitled "BDU - Contribution and Expenditure Regimes", it is pointed out that approximately 6 percent of BDU revenues were directed to various funds. The ones that are identified are the CMF, LPIF and other independent funds and expenditures on local expression such as the community channels.
4651 The total amount of these contributions in 2012 was just over $506 million.
4652 Therefore, even by a rough estimate it can be seen that consumers were required to provide the funding of approximately $600 million in 2012 that came directly from regulatory provisions established by the Commission. Here is the important point: None of the decisions establishing these funds faced an undue hardship test or disclosure of an amount per month per consumer or on any individual basis in terms of a breakout.
4653 So the most important point that we would like to make for the purposes of this opening statement is that, in our respectful submission, we need to know the case we have to meet and the Commission's apparent injection of a significant jurisdictional hurdle must be clarified. We will reserve our submissions on that until that happens and we receive that clarification.
4654 MR. KERSHISNIK: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission, we would like to conclude by indicating how impressed we have been with earlier pronouncements by the Commission establishing the principle that equal and non-discriminatory access for persons who are deaf and hard-of-hearing requires telecommunications service providers to offer services that provide the same ability as any subscriber to communicate with all other subscribers. These decisions have been followed consistently over a span of some three decades.
4655 Sorenson's approach to the provision of VRS in Canada presumes a dedication to the principle of functional equivalence. This is of fundamental importance because deaf consumers deserve what the hearing consumer enjoys and often takes for granted. In practical terms, we would expect that deaf Canadians should be able to call whomever they wish, whenever they wish, from wherever they are located, all the while utilizing the latest technology whether it is fixed or mobile.
4656 At the conclusion of this hearing, we are confident that the Commission will have the evidence it is seeking to make a determination that VRS should be implemented and the manner in which it should be implemented in order to address the needs of all Canadians.
4657 Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important hearing.
4658 Now, Mike will be pleased to answer all of your questions.
4659 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Kane, we note your point and just note that section 27 of the Telecommunications Act, which deals with just and reasonable rates and unjust discrimination is obviously an important section for this proceeding and you will have the opportunity, as you noted, to address the interpretation and application of section 27, or any other part of the Act in your final reply due November 15th.
4660 Now, other questions?
4661 Given that --
4662 MR. KANE: Mr. Chairman, if I just confirm then, that's the clarification in terms of how we should respond?
4663 THE CHAIRPERSON: You may respond or not, as you wish.
4664 MR. KANE: I just wanted to confirm; thank you.
4665 THE CHAIRMAN: Now, other questions.
4666 Given that Canada has six time zones and we are operating in two languages potentially with a system like this -- and there are another two languages, infer another two languages for sign -- and the country has a need for geographic relevance, how many operation centres for VRS would be most appropriate in Canada?
4667 MS GIROUX: I believe the eight would be a good number because they are in cities that have large interpreter populations. I would encourage the consideration of another in Montréal for the French LSQ component. Further centres in smaller cities would decimate the community interpreting pool, so I probably wouldn't go there.
4668 THE CHAIRPERSON: So eight?
4669 MS GIROUX: The eight that we have in the cities.
4670 THE CHAIRPERSON: The eight that you have right now.
4671 MS GIROUX: Yes.
4672 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Because that was going to be my next question. I was thinking of SaskTel yesterday where they had 300 subscribers in their area. Obviously if you don't speak English and you just sign you are unlikely to sign up for TTY and that sort of stuff, but I was concerned people would be concerned about the draw from communities like that. Okay.
4673 The wage rates for interpreters, how are they managed? Are they different in each centre? Do they vary from individual to individual?
4674 There was a reference in your written submission to fixed rates and I was curious whether there were fixed rates for interpreters or are they market-based?
4675 MS GIROUX: We have a matrix that we put our interpreters through and it depends on the city you live in and it depends on your years of experience, education and any certifications that you may have and then you come out with a number.
4676 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So that's negotiated individually with each interpreter?
4677 MS GIROUX: Yes.
4678 THE CHAIRPERSON: Can you give us a sense of the range? I'm just doing that because one of the issues is availability of interpreters and we will talk more about that, but if the availability of work as an interpreter is out there and people are hoping that that will attract more people into the work, they have to have a sense of how good the money is in other words.
4679 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes. I believe in some of our earlier submissions we outlined rather extensively the exact amounts, the ranges of interpreter salaries and things like that, so I would refer you to those submissions and you can take a look.
4680 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4681 It has been referenced earlier in this proceeding that a lot of the interpreters are hired to work 12 to 15 hours a week. I'm trying to understand that. If you are working 12 to 15 hours a week you are a casual employee; right, because you --
4682 MR. KERSHISNIK: Part time.
4683 THE CHAIRPERSON: And casual employees are on an on-call basis and the company doesn't have to pay benefits and, et cetera, for a casual employee that would apply to a permanent or a full-time -- even a permanent part-time employee or a full-time employee.
4684 Do you want to address that, because I'm curious to know what the real reason is for 12-to-15 hour work weeks for interpreters.
4685 MS GIROUX: It is an average so there are some people that work more than that and some people that work less. They are not casual employees. All of the interpreters who work for us are employees and pay taxes and get vacation pay. So because they need to have our equipment to work for us, they can't be casual contractors.
4686 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks for clarifying, because that's sort of --
4687 MS GIROUX: Yes. And the 12-to-15 hours were kind of we fill in gaps for them in the community. Another example, before VRS showed up I remember I went to a book store and I bought books and the person who took my money was a colleague of mine, an interpreter working there. I asked her, "What are you -- why are you working here?" and it was to augment her income as an interpreter and so I encouraged her to come and apply at the VRS Centre so she could augment her income doing what she went to school for instead of working in a bookstore or in Starbucks.
4688 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So what would be the maximum number of hours in a week that an interpreter could work -- would work for you?
4689 MS GIROUX: Thirty-six.
4690 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thirty-six, okay.
4691 MR. KERSHISNIK: If I might add to this, this principle of 12 to 15 hours also applies in the United States as well and the driving force behind that really has to do with this whole notion of managing the demands of video relay service and the demands of community interpreting.
4692 As a provider, it would be wonderful if we could have one or two centres in the United States or one centre in Canada, it would be much more efficient from a business perspective to manage far fewer centres, but you have to be where interpreters are because of their importance to the deaf community where they live, so the hours are typically managed that way, so that they are not spending all of their time in VRS, but they have ample time to be involved in the community as well.
4693 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. You said in these remarks, and thank you for that, that some of these interpreters working here work for you so they are free as employees to take employment with other agencies, even perhaps competitors in this, in the competitive VRS operators?
4694 MS GIROUX: Not competitive VRS operations, but -- the unique situation in Canada is that there is no competitor, but they can work wherever they want. We don't tell them where they can work.
4695 In terms of working for us, it's a very unique employment situation. We don't tell them when to come to work for us, they tell us when they want to come and work for us.
4696 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. So if this went forward and there was a competitive process and it was a single provider and somebody other than you was the successful bidder on an RFP, they would have to then compete to win back the employees who are currently working for you in Canada; right?
4697 MR. KERSHISNIK: That's right. But I think Canada and the United States have a very, very interesting relationship as it relates to sign language particularly ASL, obviously not LSQ, in that American sign language in the United States, American sign language in Canada is the same and you can't say that for Germany and France, you can't say that for England and Holland. Every country has their own specific sign language. That we share the sign language means that we also share the resource of interpreters. So a lot has been said about shortages of interpreters in Canada and that there aren't enough interpreters in Canada to provide video relay service 24/7, or whatever other demands might be imposed. But the reality is that if you look at this from an interpreter supply perspective as it relates to ASL, you have far more capacity than exists just in Canada, you have a lot of capacity that exists down in the United States as well.
4698 That doesn't mean that there would be any attempt to suppress the development of ASL interpreting capacity in Canada by any stretch of the imagination, but it is just a reality that you have a lot of capacity down in the United States and you have a lot of capacity here. So if another provider was chosen to do video relay service in Canada, they would have a much broader pool of interpreters as it relates to ASL than just those that reside in Canada for whatever period of time would be necessary until they would have developed the capacity here in this country, if that's what the Commission chose.
4699 THE CHAIRPERSON: How much more capacity would have to be developed in this country?
4700 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes, let me speak to that point. I was there the first day that Sorenson offered video relay service in the United States and there were very similar concerns about interpreter capacity at that time. The year was 2003. There is a similar certification body to AVLIC in the United States called Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. They had about 4,000 certified interpreters at that time and there was a great concern that there wouldn't be enough interpreters for VRS and the impacts on the community. I can tell you that what happened over time was that many people who had left the profession because they didn't have stable enough opportunities to earn a living and to support their families returned to the field and now, 10 years later, there are 12,000 certified interpreters for the RID organization.
4701 I believe, from what we heard from AVLIC yesterday or earlier this week, where they talked about the number of interpreters they have now -- but they are also other interpreters that aren't part of their organization, I believe that there will be a lot of interpreters that will return to the field that may have left it. And also the interest of the interpreting development programs, we have heard testimony earlier this week about the interest in those because of the increased job opportunities, particularly we heard about in the Halifax area.
4702 The capacity, if you look at how VRS would be rolled out, you know, not all users would start on the service day one. There are early adopters, I think you saw a lot of the early adopter-type people participate in the TELUS trial, there were a lot more deaf in British Columbia in the other areas of the trial that didn't participate that would over time and I think that what you would find is the capacity that would be needed would be developed and grown internally and that it would happen in a manner that it didn't negatively affect the community interpreting needs.
4703 THE CHAIRPERSON: So when Bell was talking yesterday about the need to fund training centres and that sort of stuff and have a period of ramp-up here, what I'm getting from you this morning is a sense that the period of ramp-up has already begun.
4704 MR. MADDIX: Absolutely.
4705 THE CHAIRPERSON: And your argument is that what they are suggesting is a two or three year period to get things going is not required.
4706 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes. I would just reiterate some of the comments we made in our earlier statements. There isn't a company in these proceedings, or in the world, who has more experience in dealing with interpreters than Sorenson Communications and we think that ramp-up period that was expressed by Monitor and -- I'm sorry, Mission and Bell just has no foundation at all.
4707 The ramp-up has already begun, the ramp-up would continue to happen as the service is provided and to discount the capacity availability in the United States would be unwise and completely unnecessary. So these long, long procedural delays are completely unnecessary.
4708 THE CHAIRPERSON: What would be the number of interpreters that would be -- as you mentioned, AVLIC mentioned they have 700 members, but there are others out there. What would be the size of the labour pool of interpreters in Canada required to ensure that VRS could be made available on a 24/7 basis in, as you say, several centres across the country?
4709 MS GIROUX: In ASL in English?
4710 THE CHAIRPERSON: Yes.
4711 MS GIROUX: I feel like we could do that tomorrow with the pool of interpreters that we have working in VRS now.
4712 THE CHAIRPERSON: LSQ?
4713 MS GIROUX: LSQ French, I don't know, I'm sorry.
4714 THE CHAIRPERSON: But could LSQ and ASL both begin tomorrow, as you say?
4715 MS GIROUX: Not if Sorenson provided the service, no.
4716 MR. KERSHISNIK: I think one of the --
4717 THE CHAIRPERSON: If somebody else provided the service?
4718 MS GIROUX: I can't speak on the LSQ French pool.
4719 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4720 MS GIROUX: I don't have enough --
4721 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
4722 MR. KERSHISNIK: I think one of the things to realize, too, that LSQ does present an interesting challenge in that it's a much, much smaller population, a number of people have talked about the limitations of interpreters in that particular area, but the exact same principles would apply to LSQ as have historically applied to ASL, and that is that -- and someone used the movie term, "If you build it, they will come", for the provision of LSQ, I mean that would result in the development of those sign language interpreters as aggressively as it would ASL interpreters.
4723 So there is always some tension and we would be just lying to you if we were to say there is never any tension between community needs and VRS, there is just a natural tension there.
4724 We have worked extremely hard over the past decade to minimize those tensions, not only through the hours of employment that we talked about, but also the very significant sums of money that we invest in interpreter programs in the places where we work. The development of that interpreter capacity isn't just for our employees, it's the development of interpreter capacity period, whether you work for Sorenson or not, so there is a great benefit there.
4725 I think that because ASL has the advantage, if you will, of Sorenson's help of some development in Canada already, but in particular because of the ASL capacity that exists in the United States, if you were to flip the switch tomorrow ASL could happen -- the long pole in the tent is the distribution of endpoints and equipment, not interpreters. For LSQ that's a different story, there are two long poles in tent, one is the distribution of equipment and the second is the development of interpreter capacity.
4726 So I think it would be unfortunate to delay ASL because of LSQ, even though we do completely recognize and respect the fact that Canada is a bilingual country, but we think, however, that because of that development and capacity in ASL you ought to let that horse run and then provide the structure, framework, timeframes, et cetera, for development for LSQ and I don't think that there would be anyone who would want to very aggressively get after and develop that capacity so that LSQ could, as quickly as possible, reach the same levels of access and availability as ASL, but there is today a physical difference between the two, the availability of those to sign languages.
4727 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. Maddix...?
4728 MR. MADDIX: So going back again to my experience 10 years ago when Sorenson first started doing video relay service, you know, we didn't have interpreters, we faced the similar situation that we do with LSQ here in Canada. We don't have LSQ interpreters working for Sorenson right now and it took us a matter of a few months to be able to recruit the interpreters and to bring them in and to give them proper training that they would need for the component of video relay interpreting versus community interpreting and to be able to get those centres up and running. I would expect a similar type of timeframe that we would need in the United States -- as what we used in the United States for Canada.
4729 THE CHAIRPERSON: In paragraph 63 of your written submission you noted an 87 percent drop in TTY and 51 percent in IP relay following VRS introduction in the U.S. would. How much of that you attribute to the introduction of VRS and how much of it would be attributed to other technological developments, access to Internet, access to e-mail, texting, other alternative methods of communication for the hard of hearing who -- particularly non-sign obviously.
4730 MR. MADDIX: Sure. So one of the great things about the deaf community is they are very early adopters of technology. We have heard testimony this week about how the deaf were using pagers and other messaging type technologies before they were widely adopted in the hearing communities.
4731 The earlier number where the number was large, the deaf were largely already using those technologies to supplement their communication in addition to the TTY use. I attribute that decrease virtually, literally almost all, to the advent of a better technology that was more functionally equivalent.
4732 It's important to keep in mind that each individual gets to choose what's the best technology and solution for them to use. There are some people that their ability to use sign language although they are deaf is not very good and they do prefer the text communication. That's why you still see some of the TTY usage in the United States. There are other people who are both deaf and blind and they are able to hook up their TTY machines to Braille readers and to be able to still communicate.
4733 No, it's not going to totally go away, but the fact is that time and time again if you talk to deaf individuals -- and we have heard it this week -- that a previously used text-based communication compared to using their native language of sign language, virtually every time they're going to prefer the sign language communication.
4734 And there's another side to this coin that I think is worth noting. If you've ever been the recipient of a TTY call, and Paul referenced if we were doing this communication through TTY we'd still be on the first presentation, it's almost painful and the delays that you experience as a hearing person and also as a deaf person. And you tend to, unfortunately, maybe not talk as much as you might talk, and the amount of time it takes is significantly longer.
4735 In the course of a conversation that would take place in TTY conversation, it can be done so much more quickly and efficiently in the video relay that actually, you know, it takes multiple minutes to do a conversation that would take a minute to do in VRS and it's a very big shift in the funding that takes place, and we've seen that.
4736 THE CHAIRPERSON: The point was made by SaskTel, most notably yesterday --
4737 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
4738 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- that technology has developed at such a pace that if we were going to -- I'm paraphrasing, but essentially -- and that's why I won't -- let me separate this from SaskTel.
4739 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah. Yeah.
4740 THE CHAIRPERSON: I will paraphrase this as a view that is out there. That techno-- that if we were going to do VRS, maybe 10 years ago --
4741 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
4742 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- would have been the time to do it. And that if we do it now, technology has advanced so far that VRS will actually be old news --
4743 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah --
4744 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- very quickly. And technological development on the internet will consume it and we'll be stuck with this forever.
4745 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, we -- you could tell I was sort of chomping at the bit. We're so happy that you asked that question. We would have found a way to answer it even if you hadn't.
4746 You know, we mention in your statements that the best technology for the signing deaf in terms of functional equivalence is VRS. There is no other form of relay service that is as functionally equivalent as video relay service. They're in their native language. They're expressing all their emotions, they see what's going on, and it is the very, very best.
4747 There are desires not only here in Canada but elsewhere in the world to find some other silver bullet technology that eliminates the need of the highest cost component of video relay service and that happens to be these ladies on my right and left. Let's get rid of the interpreters so that the cost of this service would go way down. Nothing against the interpreters, but that's the technology that you're thinking about. What technology is there out there that would eliminate the need for an interpreter? And there are two technologies that are out there that would do that.
4748 One, and I don't even know exactly how to describe it, but it would be the elimination of deafness; okay? No more deaf people, then you don't need interpreters.
4749 The second would be that gesture recognition technology would develop to the point that you would actually be able to just be signing and the gesture recognition technology would convert that to speech, or that your speech would be converted to sign language and so that the deaf person could see what you're saying.
4750 And I think the first one, I'm not holding my breath for that one.
4751 The second one is truly a disruptive technology that would be wonderful. It would be fantastic. But anyone who thinks that it's imminent, all you have to do is consider voice recognition technology. That's been in development for decades. And voice recognition technology, as good as it is today and it is better today than it was in the past, is still -- is still miles away from the levels of accuracy that would be required to say, oh, yeah, I can just use speech recognition technology, no problem, and it does everything, puts everything into text what I -- you've had experiences with Siri and other voice recognition technologies. Anyone knows that that -- you would never rely on that.
4752 And so, the thought or idea that VRS will quickly become obsolete is a pipe dream. That it one day may become obsolete, I don't doubt that. I really don't doubt that it one day will. But 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, I think you'll still be seeing sign language interpreters in front of some sort of video device relaying communication between deaf and hearing people.
4753 MR. MADDIX: If I might just add one brief comment to this idea.
4754 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mindful of our time, though, so but go ahead.
4755 MR. MADDIX: Okay. So I just want to point out that the VRS of 2003 did become obsolete by the offering of 2005, which became obsolete by the offering in 2007. It's continually evolved. You know, Sorenson is on its third generation video phone. At the time that Sorenson did the trial in conjunction with TELUS, we didn't have mobile solutions, we didn't have the ability to do it on the laptop, the android, the Mac iOS. It's actually evolved. And the VRS of today will be obsolete in the future, but it's going to be replaced by better technologies used in conjunction with VRS.
4756 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand, thank you.
4757 I want to talk a little bit and I need some clarity, excuse me, because I know you've addressed it in here and maybe I should check again, but things come and go pretty quickly. MRS. You're suggesting today, I understood you to say, that you wish that any funds in excess of the cost of offering collected -- that are in excess of the cost of offering MRS by providers be redirected going forward - you're not suggesting going backward, right - going forward to interpreter training, was it, or to other costs of subsidizing --
4758 MR. KERSHISNIK: Mr. Chairman, in our submission our suggestion was that it would be an amount that might be appropriate to cover the administrative costs of setting up the third party --
4759 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right.
4760 MR. KERSHISNIK: -- administration.
4761 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. I've found it.
4762 MR. KERSHISNIK: So if there is additional monies that could go to training and other elements, that would also be valuable. We thought to cover the administrative costs as a first order would probably be the most appropriate.
4763 THE CHAIRPERSON: So VRS admin costs, one time collect costs, sign interpreter training, and that was it. My question on that, because that's clear what your suggestion is, that would obviously entail a review of MRS tariffs and other rates, so I'm going to take it that you're in favour of that.
4764 And just in regards to sign interpreter training, particularly with a -- an RFP sort of model, why wouldn't the sign interpreter training be -- a. why would it be necessary if we've already got a pool, and -- as you suggest, and also, why wouldn't that be the responsibility of the service -- of the successful bidder service provider? Why wouldn't that be built into the cost of providing the service?
4765 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, actually it is built into the cost of providing the service. I mean, it is a significant responsibility of the provider to ensure that their interpreters are appropriately trained. You have to appreciate that in a community sort of interpreting experience, the interpreter knows who -- typically -- often knows who they're going to interpret for, maybe not, but they may know them, but they certainly know the general -- the type of conversation that it's a doctor, it's a lawyer, it's whatever. In a VRS situation you have no clue. The video phone rings and you answer it and it could be whatever. And so, there are huge interpreting demands that are placed upon an interpreter in a VRS situation that are very, very unique. And so, oftentimes interpreters that are extremely well qualified coming out of regular programs almost without exception require additional training in order to be the kind of video relay service interpreter that the deaf would expect. And so, training is just -- it's just a critical element.
4766 And you have to appreciate as well that a deaf person doesn't get to choose who is interpreting for them. They may decide that, oh, it's a man, I would prefer a woman, or they may decide that, you know, this interpreter who is in interpreting for me just isn't getting me very well, I would like a different interpreter, please. So you have some choice and power there. But there are different signs in different parts of the country and so there is a lot of training that needs to go on with interpreters. So that independent of where the interpreter is, they're able to handle the call from wherever it originates. That's true in the United States. That's also true in Canada as well.
4767 THE CHAIRPERSON: Just on that MRS suggestion going forward, why wouldn't it be simpler just to get the MRS rate right and then there would be capacity within the system for something else if it was, for instance, you know, if it's 15 cents, as an example right now --
4768 MR. KERSHISNIK: M'hmm.
4769 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- for MRS and it should be 10, just picking that out of the air as a hypothetical, doesn't that leave a nickel on the table that could -- that would lessen the impact to the subscriber on their bill of a potential VRS levy?
4770 MR. KANE: Mr. Chairman, one way or another there will probably have to be a review of MRS and that could be an option. We're not saying that it has to be the way we're suggesting it, but we think it's an obvious suggestion in terms of the current situation.
4771 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just wanted to be clear, thank you.
4772 Now, you spoke about 9-1-1 in here. And I guess as a broad -- the best way to ask a number of questions in a short period of time is are there any barriers at all to complete 9-1-1 access through a VRS system, and if so, what would those be?
4773 MR. MADDIX: We believe that implementation to be relatively quick. We process in excess of 600 9-1-1 calls a week in the United States for United States deaf individuals and we route those to the correct proper PSAP. We're able to send those calls in natively through the selective routers, just they would -- like they would receive any other 9-1-1 call, with the location and the other enhanced information showing up at the PSAP. And we've already -- we've done several things to be proactive. We've talked to our 9-1-1 technology provider that we use, who has the ability to provide the same service in Canada. Upon being selected as a service provider in Canada, we would enter into the contract negotiations and begin the implementation on the end of the technology provider and also the Sorenson system to be able to provide that. Like I mentioned earlier, we know 9-1-1 are the most important calls any individual make and we believe that we could do those relatively soon throughout, nationwide.
4774 THE CHAIRPERSON: And a deaf person could expect that they would have relatively equivalent speed of access [inaudible]?
4775 MR. MADDIX: Yeah. So what we do with the 9-1-1 dialing string is it is recognized as it comes into the system as prioritized above all other calls and there's a centralized queue generally, first in, first out, for calls that come into a VRS system distributed to one of the eight or nine centres throughout Canada, and the next available interpreter takes it. But when it's 9-1-1, it goes above all other calls and it's distributed within seconds.
4776 THE CHAIRPERSON: And, now, is it possible to -- if there wasn't initially at least a 24/7 system, is it possible to have 24/7 9-1-1 access?
4777 MR. MADDIX: Again, the barrier to providing the 9-1-1 access would be negotiating the contract with the technology provider and implementing the technology. So, yes, it would be possible, but to the point that if we began offering 24 hour 9-1-1 access it would make sense to just open up the system for all calls 24 hours because you'd have to staff at a level that would be able to support the level of calls in the middle of the night. It wouldn't be that big of a difference.
4778 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4779 I want to give you -- you may have wanted this opportunity too at some point and you've -- you may not be arguing for this, but I want to give you the opportunity to address it. We've heard a few times this week that, you know, if we're going to go -- if we were to -- in considering VRS, let me put it this way, whatever we do, don't do what the Americans did.
4780 MR. KERSHISNIK: Right.
4781 THE CHAIRPERSON: So, I -- what would be your thoughts on that?
4782 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, I think that's an extremely wise approach in some instances. VRS has been in the United States for 13 years, and so to ignore the record of the United States would be folly on the part of you people. There are elements of the development of video relay service that have been somewhat problematic. The FCC likes to talk almost incessantly about the presence of waste, fraud, and abuse. It's a very large drum, it's about their only drum, and they seem to beat it rather regularly. And Sorenson Communications has the vast majority of market share in United States. We've never been involved in any sort of institutionalised waste, fraud or abuse. And as a result of, that just mathematically - just mathematically for anyone to say that waste, fraud and abuse is rampant in the United States is -- they just don't know what they're talking about. Because if the 80-some-odd percent market share player in the United States has never been involved in it and the vast majority of the remaining 20 are also not involved in it, how could it possibly be rampant, but it's something the FCC harps on quite a bit.
4783 The point is that active and involved regulatory activity is crucial. And I think the CRTC can learn from the numerous mistakes of the FCC to regulate VRS in a way in Canada to avoid some of the pitfalls that were made available to unscrupulous providers by virtue of relatively weak regulatory oversight in the United States. So that would be one -- I think that would be one important lesson.
4784 But, you know, this isn't an American thing. It's a technology that is applied to a need. It's no more American than -- well, I mean, Google is American. People don't have any problem using Google wherever you live, you know. VRS is not an American thing. It's an international thing. It happens to be done perhaps on a more functional equivalent basis in the United States than anywhere else in the world. We're the only country - the only country in the world that provides unfettered access to communications to its deaf population. The only one. There's not a single country in the world that provides 24/7 access to their deaf population and gives them the choice that deaf Americans have. So there's a lot to learn from that too, that functional equivalence really does need to be the basis for what you do and how you do it.
4785 The idea of providing telecommunication services for the deaf on a limited or restricted basis isn't even a game that we would want to play in because it would -- yes, it would be result in lower costs, but it would also result in a very dissatisfied customer base. Imagine all of us in this room, all the hearing people in this room, if our telecommunication provider said, oh, there's a cap on your usage; oh, there's a limit on time of day that you can make these calls and receive calls, et cetera. We wouldn't be very happy and we'd express that dissatisfaction rather vocally. The deaf would be the same. So to be a provider of inequivalent repressive service just isn't a great game in town.
4786 And so, I think you can learn from some of the mistakes we've made, you can also learn from -- I think it's important to look to the United States as an example of some things that have been done extremely well and extremely right.
4787 THE CHAIRPERSON: And I just want to confirm my understanding from your oral remarks this morning, that you agree with TELUS' proposal for -- that an RFP process would be preferred --
4788 MR. KERSHISNIK: I think so because as you --
4789 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- or would --
4790 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes.
4791 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- be your recommendation?
4792 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes.
4793 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. Thanks.
4794 Just in terms of money and costs of this, and I know this refers to a fixed per minute rate that the FCC has, it's now got the tiered approach that is working the rate down from close to $6 a minute to roughly $3.40 a minute. Is there any factor in Canada that's different from the United States that wouldn't make that a reasonable guide for us in terms of estimating overall costs of a service?
4795 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah. This is another mistake that you could avoid, a pitfall that you could avoid. The FCC in the United States has consistently regulated video relay service on the basis of rate of return regulation, which from the 1980s on was just something that just was not done any longer. And so this rate of return sort of methodology is not only antiquated, but it creates a very awkward situation in which the regulator has allowable costs that a provider can have and then other costs. And this difference between allowable costs and the actual costs of providing service is a relatively significant delta. The FCC has always recognized that there is a difference between the allowable costs under a rate of return regime and the actual costs of providing VRS, as evidenced by the fact that ever since the beginning of VRS the rate paid for reimburse-- for compensation was always higher, significantly higher than the allowable costs because they knew allowable costs didn't include everything. It didn't include taxes; it didn't include equipment; it didn't include training and marketing, and a whole host of outreach activities as well.
4796 And so, the FCC, when they talk about this 3 dollar -- it has been said by the Commission numerous times that the average cost is $3 and whatever cents. I'm not being critical of those statements, but what I am suggesting is that the FCC's use of that number is disingenuous because that is not the actual cost of providing video relay service. That is the average allowable cost and it does not include a whole host of absolutely fundamental required costs for providing the service.
4797 So, the FCC has instituted a tiered system that went into effect in September of this year, and every six months beginning in January we'll ratchet it down. It's based on antiquated rate of return. It's based on misguided financial information that talks about these allowable costs as if they were full actual costs, and they are just flat out not, as evidenced by the fact that the FCC has actually audited us numerous times, but they actually know what our full-in costs are, and they are close to $5. And the tiered rates very quickly take the rates below Sorenson's actual costs. Sorenson is the lowest cost provider of video relay service in the United States. All-in costs, we are the lowest, most efficient -- lowest cost, most efficient provider in the United States. All the providers of merit of any size are on record in the United States saying that the rates applied by the FCC will kill VRS in the United States. There isn't a single major provider in the United States that will be left standing in the coming years if the FCC is allowed to continue their ruinous effort on this rate regime that they have applied.
4798 So to -- I'm obviously somewhat passionate about this because it represents a -- just a very strange twist and turn in the history of VRS in the United States. But I can appreciate that as a regulator, to a regulator you would like to think that a regulator down there would be using fact-based really good information and share that with you up here in Canada, but they just have not. And you can check the record in the United States. There isn't a single major provider that believes in those numbers. And if those numbers stay, we'll be out of business. And that again is why I think TELUS' proposal is a viable one. Because you have questions, is it $5, is it $4, can it be 3.50? The last thing we want to do is pay more than we should. Well, let the market decide. Let the market decide. You don't have to -- you don't have to count on whether or not Mission's academic approach is accurate. You don't have to worry whether or not TELUS and Sorenson's real live experience data is accurate. Put it out for an RFP. I doubt you'll get anyone bidding for $3.50. I know we wouldn't be at the table at that rate.
4799 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4800 Can you provide us with a breakdown of the -- speak -- sort of seguing in there, can you provide us with a breakdown of the cost components including the markup included in the reimbursement rate of 5.94 that you put in Appendix 1 of your 27th May, 2013, submission?
4801 MR. KERSHISNIK: What percent is what?
4802 MR. KANE: Mr. Chairman, do you want percents, actual amounts, or just the enumeration of the cost factors?
4803 THE CHAIRPERSON: I believe it's the enumeration of the cost factors is what I'm looking for.
4804 MR. KANE: I'm just passing it to Mr. Kershisnik to assist. We did provide a response to a Commission interrogatory and the reference is "Tell CRTC 25 May 12-1" and we have a response that Mr. Kershisnik can now address for you.
4805 MR. KERSHISNIK: It doesn't break it all out by percentages for every single one but -- so do you just want to know the areas of costs associated that make up that?
4806 THE CHAIRPERSON: Actually as much as anything. I'm trying to get at the areas of costs that the FCC hasn't included. You were talking about --
4807 MR. KERSHISNIK: Oh.
4808 THE CHAIRPERSON: -- the cost components.
4809 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah, sure.
4810 THE CHAIRPERSON: Your debate was that the FCC is coming to a $3.40 cost based on allowable costs and unallowable costs and you're making the argument that their real costs are this. So what are they not including which should be included?
4811 MR. KERSHISNIK: They don't include any debt service at all. They don't include taxes which is curious. We've offered not to pay taxes but that has never gone over very well.
4812 THE CHAIRPERSON: That didn't work?
4813 MR. KERSHISNIK: That didn't work.
4814 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand.
4815 MR. KERSHISNIK: I'm trying it personally but still not having any luck with that.
4816 Equipment costs, end-user equipment costs are not included in that. Certain marketing costs are not included in that. Certain outreach costs are not included in that. R&D costs that are involved in the development of the technologies are not involved in that.
4817 We could provide a very detailed list of that to you to make sure that I'm accurate on that because I may be missing something here or there.
4818 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think if you could take that perhaps as an undertaking to do that, that would be good. And I think we'd be looking at -- we've been handing out -- and I'll double-check with legal -- October 29th as a date if that's possible for you.
4819 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah, that's actually, I mean, a very simple request. So I don't think we'll have any trouble on that one at all.
4820 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
4821 User minutes, end-user minutes per month, we have estimates that are diverse to put it -- what's the most appropriate way? I mean what do you think the number would be?
4822 We know the number we got from the TELUS trial but there was some discussion. You know the equipment for the TELUS trial was videophone. Everybody had all the bells and whistles. There was -- they probably had a very enthusiastic user group participating.
4823 So what is the sort of number that you think, when all is said and done, we should be looking at so that we get -- so that we know the range of costs we're probably looking at?
4824 MR. KERSHISNIK: Absolutely.
4825 MR. MADDIX: Okay. So first of all just a comment about the TELUS trial. I think TELUS was very odd about their comments about the early adopters and perhaps why their minutes were increased. We saw the same thing with the first adopters in the United States. Also there was some skin in the game. As I understand it, many of the trial participants had to change to TELUS as a provider in order to participate in the trial so they really wanted access to VRS.
4826 And we saw a similar adoption in the United States. The early adopters tended to use it more and still tend to use it more. But the number that we put on the record in our intervention of 60 minutes on average per user is accurate.
4827 As we look at the data from the little over 300 trial participants in the TELUS trial versus our well over 150,000-plus users in the United States that we have, we saw very mirrored trends and call patterns, time of day when calls were placed. The data from that small trial matched our hundreds of thousands of users in the United States across the board and what we experienced with those users even with the advent of mobile technologies and greater accessibility is on average 60 minutes per month per user. We are very confident in that number.
4828 MR. KERSHISNIK: I think it's important to also note that Mission mentioned that there were inducements in the United States, minute pumping sorts of things. I don't know where in the world that's coming from. It's completely illegal in the United States for us to encourage usage.
4829 We cannot encourage a deaf person to make calls, to use more minutes. That's flat out illegal, which is different than a hearing person because TELUS would be more than happy to use more this, use more that. Bell Canada is telling you all the time to make calls.
4830 We cannot encourage usage that way. We can talk about the availability of the technology but we cannot tell people, you know, "Hey, it's your mother's birthday. Why don't you give her a VRS call?" We cannot do that.
4831 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. What would you estimate the start-up costs of -- if a VRS service were to be provided in Canada, what would be the approximate start-up costs?
4832 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, here again I think, you know, for a company like Sorenson that already has interpreting capacity in ASL that has the technologies that has the platform, it's all embedded in the rate. I mean the rate is what takes care of everything.
4833 There are some additional costs. For instance, Mike mentioned the 9-1-1 service. There would be some addition there to get that database pulled together so that you have the correct type of routing between the individual and the PCAP.
4834 But outside of a few things like that it's simply what is the rate? And that rate covers the cost of centres and implementation of the service. So I think as part of the RFP as it is defined we would be very clear about what rate we would expect and what areas would require some potential additional funding requirements.
4835 But outside of that it's not like, "Oh, yes, it's $25 million to start this". You know, it's just -- it's not like we are -- the example was made the other day of building a plant and wondering whether or not the employees would come. Well, the plant is standing on either side of this table. The interpreters are -- that's the plant. The employment base, the interpreter base is what a provider has to build and we are already there.
4836 So I'm sorry I don't have a set number for you but it's a --
4837 THE CHAIRPERSON: One of the things I'm hoping to get -- let's try to put it this way. If we were to consider implementing VRS and we would be -- I would be conscious of the cost. I think everybody is always conscious of cost in terms of expecting things. So one of the matters we have discussed with other intervenors is the idea of a cap, that we set something.
4838 So why don't we put it this way. What do you think if we set a cap, what do you think the cap should be?
4839 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, just first of all in principle it should be no surprise to you, I don't think, on the basis of what we have said already this morning, that we are not in favour of caps because we think that even though video relay service is relatively expensive, it is predictable. And those main elements of predictability are:
4840 What is the rate? And you are in control of that.
4841 What are the minutes of use? And I would strongly urge you to use our experience on the record versus Mission's academic and speculative number.
4842 And then it's the number of deaf users in Canada.
4843 Of those three elements the only one that is somewhat unpredictable, and it's true in Canada and it's true in every other country in the world, how many deaf people do we have that would use the service? That's always a hard one to get at. Mission has a number of somewhere between 15,000 and 16,000. We use 25,000.
4844 I'm not saying we're spot on or that they are way off base but the answer is somewhere in between 16,000 and 17,000 users and 25,000 users. And so it's relatively easy to do the math. The rate times 60 minutes times 12 months times the number -- you know, there it is.
4845 And so I think that predictability should give you some assurance that caps really aren't necessary for reasons of equality and functional equivalence. You ought to err -- I'm not trying to be prescriptive but it would be far better to err on the side of giving deaf the access and freedom that they deserve and that we as hearing people enjoy knowing that the predictability around this service is far greater than so many people that have been at this table are trying to tell you.
4846 So if you want a cap how about 100 million?
4847 THE CHAIRPERSON: I'm just pausing to do your math, 15,000 times $5.00 times 60.
4848 MR. KERSHISNIK: Times 12.
4849 THE CHAIRPERSON: Times 12. So I've got 45 million or, sorry, what have I got here? $4.5 million a month that's using monthly -- the 60 per month, right, times 12 is --
4850 MR. KERSHISNIK: 50 million, 60 million.
4851 THE CHAIRPERSON: 50-60 million. So that's the number you're giving us?
4852 MR. KERSHISNIK: You're actually using -- I believe you're using two of our numbers.
4853 THE CHAIRPERSON: Using your numbers, yeah. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth. I'm trying to take the words from your mouth and a bit of math.
4854 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes, if that's the subscriber base that you want to peg, then that's exactly right.
4855 THE CHAIRPERSON: Right. If it was your 25,000, if we went halfway in between then that would be another -- that would add another third onto that so it would be more like 80 million.
4856 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah, well, I would argue for something north of $5.00.
4857 THE CHAIRPERSON: I expect you would and others might argue for something south of that.
4858 THE CHAIRPERSON: If the argument was upheld that VRS should go ahead but it should be on a restricted basis are there any barriers to offering, for instance, using the system for point-to-point calls on a 24/7 basis?
4859 Would it possible to construct something that had, you know, sort of six a.m. to midnight with interpreter service but had point-to-point 24/7, given that from the TELUS trial that 70 percent of the calls were point to point?
4860 MR. KANE: There would be no restriction on that. In the TELUS trial they were able to place 24-hour point-to-point calls.
4861 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, great. Thank you.
4862 Some interveners have submitted that 10-digit dialling is preferable rather than a SIP address. Could that be -- is that possible?
4863 MR. KERSHISNIK: That's functionally equivalent and that's what we would expect, yes.
4864 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay, thank you.
4865 Okay, just hold on a sec.
4866 THE CHAIRPERSON: We'll just take a five-minute break, okay?
4867 MR. KERSHISNIK: Sure.
--- Upon recessing at 1025
--- Upon resuming at 1034
4868 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
4869 Those are my questions for now. Commissioner Shoan has some questions for you, as may the other of my colleagues.
4870 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good morning. Thank you for being here, and thank you for your candour in your replies. It's very helpful. Thank you.
4871 A couple of questions stemming from your presentation this morning, and I'd like to begin generally about the question of platform.
4872 We've heard from a number of intervenors this week with respect to the type of platform that should be potentially employed in Canada to support a VRS.
4873 Generally speaking, people have been in favour of a common platform. At minimum, there's been support for inter-operability.
4874 I note from your presentation you referred to the next generation of video phone. And having read the TELUS trial, a video phone was employed in that project.
4875 And can you speak a bit about whether or not a common platform should be employed in Canada and then, as a subset of that, what would be the elements of that platform? Would it be hardware based, software based? Are there elements of both?
4876 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah. That is a great, great question, and love to talk about that.
4877 Some of the concerns that I think we also expressed was a concern that you didn't want to be locked in. You know, you have someone providing service in Canada for some number of years and then you decide to boot them out and bring someone else in, and what happens. Is it a different platform, that sort of thing. So I'll address that as well.
4878 You know, the back end that routes all the calls and provides a lot of the cloud services, et cetera that are involved, it's a very complicated thing. We've been doing it for over 10 years now.
4879 In the early days of Sorenson's work, you know, we'll freely admit that there were black screens sometimes or frozen images and, you know, we had some challenges technologically.
4880 That's really not the case any longer. We have an extremely robust, well-developed system. And in fact, we probably handle more minutes of VRS in a week or a month than are handled around the world in an entire year.
4881 So the system that we have is an outstanding system.
4882 But I've heard people talk about Skype or Facetime, et cetera. Well, Skype is a closed system. Facetime is a closed system. They're all proprietary systems, every single one. So is ours. So any system that you would get would have huge elements of propriety.
4883 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: True. But the two software platforms you just noted -- I'm sorry to interrupt -- are ubiquitously available. They're -- essentially, anyone can log on to a laptop, PC, Notebook, Smartphone, immediately download the software and use it.
4884 Can you say the same about your platform?
4885 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, I'll get to -- you can download software apps so that, for instance, if you have a laptop or if you have an iPad, a mobile phone, you can download our applications and absolutely use those for our service. No question about that.
4886 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
4887 MR. KERSHISNIK: The only thing that is really somewhat proprietary about us is the video phone itself. And Sorenson's video phone is the only -- I think the only functioning video phone in the world today that is just completely designed for the deaf. And it has more elements to it that you'll never find in an Apple device or an Android device because those devices are not built for deaf people. Those devices are built for hearing people.
4888 And so if -- as an example, if Sorenson were the provider in Canada, we would highly recommend that our platform be used and the exposure on the part of Canadians or the CRTC is as minimal the exposure of any other.
4889 So for instance, say Sorenson was the provider for, I'll call it, three years and at the end of three years, you said, "Goodbye, Sorenson, hello someone else".
4890 I would presume that you would have requirements of that new provider in terms of software and applications, and they would -- they would simply place deaf Canadians download their software and apps onto their existing devices, and away they would go.
4891 The video phone would be the casualty. Our video phone would not respond to that sort of stuff. So if you were a deaf consumer and you had a Sorenson video phone, you would lose that. But your iPad and all those other forms of connectivity would be yours and available.
4892 So -- but this -- the idea of inter-operability is an extremely important idea. When you have one provider, you have fewer issues of inter-operability, obviously.
4893 The only concern then is how many of these end points can operate on your system because not every single end point will operate on your platform. You have to do things to make that happen.
4894 And there probably isn't a VRS provider in the world that would make every single mobile phone, every single tablet, every single thing operate on their system. Neither would you have a deaf population who would require that, either.
4895 Do you want to add something?
4896 MR. MADDIX: Yes. I need a mic, though. There we go.
4897 A couple other things worth nothing is that, actually, the video phone is designed for the deaf that we have and, as Paul mentioned, does have some proprietary aspects. But it is also standard spaced.
4898 For instance, you could use the Sorenson ntouchVP and call anybody who has a Tandberg video phone or a Polycom video phone system and they would be able to communicate just fine off of H.264 codec protocol.
4899 But there's a big effort on standardization and inter-operability issues going on among VRS providers at this time in the United States, and the efforts have centred on the SIP, Session Initiated Protocol, forum or the SIP forum which we've heard referenced earlier this week.
4900 And I believe that through the efforts in this forum, there will be a common component on all the end point technology that will solve a lot of these inter-operability issues. And they're very anxiously working on that in that forum setting right now. And I believe that ---
4901 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Is that research occurring at the -- is it an industry-driven event or is this something mandated by the FCC in terms of the inter-operability standards for the SIP work?
4902 MR. KERSHISNIK: That goes back to one of the other questions of what should we learn from the United States, and here's an area where the FCC was just asleep at the switch because they were very, very -- even today, almost all of the inter-operability efforts are driven by providers. And that, as you can imagine, has some elements of herding cats, right, because we're competitors, for crying out loud, and you expect us to get together in a room and, without regulatory supervision or mandate, achieve an objective that's agreeable to everyone.
4903 So the role of a regulator is critical in the development of standards, the dictation of standards in collaboration with industry.
4904 Under the TELUS model, you'll have fewer issues of that if you -- depending upon whether they have one competitor -- one provider or multiple providers. But the -- it's not rocket science to say this is the standard, these are the levels of inter-operability that are required and you just perform to them because if you don't perform to them, guess what, you don't get paid.
4905 And that's a huge incentive to do whatever needs to be done to get to those ends.
4906 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you. That's very helpful.
4907 And my apologies for interrupting, Mr. Maddix, your previous answer.
4908 MR. KERSHISNIK: On his birthday.
4909 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: On his birthday, no less.
4910 So I'd like to actually dig a little deeper and talk about this proprietary video phone. So at the risk of this becoming an advertisement for the Sorenson myPhone, can you talk to me a bit more about this particular piece of technology and what sort of -- what sort of specific functionality it offers the deaf and hard of hearing that makes it a particularly attractive tool?
4911 MR. KERSHISNIK: So you're talking about the myPhone feature itself or the video phone itself?
4912 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: The video -- I'm sorry. I thought they were one and the same. If they're different, please ---
4913 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah. The myPhone feature is simply one that allows -- well, if you have a device, it has a 10-digit number associated with it.
4914 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Right.
4915 MR. KERSHISNIK: If you have three devices, you've got three 10-digit numbers associated. So when someone asks, "What's your number?" you have to, well, my mobile number, my -- you have to remember a lot of numbers.
4916 The myPhone feature allows a customer to create a myPhone group so that when their myPhone number is dialed, all the different devices ring --
4917 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Gotcha.
4918 MR. KERSHISNIK: -- and they choose which one they want to answer. And so they only need to remember one number and then they can -- they have the choice of which device they want to answer.
4919 So that's really -- it's a feature itself.
4920 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
4921 MR. KERSHISNIK: Mike can talk about the video phone at length.
4922 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
4923 MR. MADDIX: So with video phone communication for the deaf, image quality is king. And there are a lot of complexities involved with that.
4924 We heard questions this week about band width requirements, and if you've -- I think it was noted that in Sorenson's reply, we said a minimum of 256 K, with 1.5 megabytes being optimal. The reason why we only require 256 is because we're not using a product that was designed for hearing people and adopting it and using it for deaf people.
4925 For instance, the codec algorithms have been fine-tuned for the fast movement of sign language, where typical software's used to talking heads kind of like I am right now, not a lot of movement. And that just doesn't work well. But we've been able to fine-tune the algorithm.
4926 Another thing is a lot of band width is provided to voice. And for instance, if you're using an application like Skype, the way that's programmed is if there's a band width issue, it is going to sacrifice video quality over voice at any point in time because if you get the voice as conversation goes on and you get freezes that happen.
4927 You know, I've heard a reference to the Skype technology being used in Australia. I was at a conference earlier this fall, and I heard representatives of the Australian organization talking about their implementation. And they said things like, "Yeah, it freezes sometimes, but if you wait long enough, it comes back and we get through it. It works out okay".
4928 Well, you know, that isn't good enough. That isn't good enough. When we're on a voice conversation, if it cuts out for 15 seconds, you know, that's unacceptable. And the video quality needs to be there.
4929 So we're able to do that and dedicate that band width to the image.
4930 Some other things that happen are high definition video. Again, we've heard so much about the facial expressions with the American Sign Language, and that's part of it. If you can't see it, you miss it. And if you -- you can't give the functional equivalent communication. You're able to get that.
4931 Other enhancements, you know, for a deaf person -- how do we know our phone's ringing? We hear it. Well, for a deaf person, they need to be able to see it.
4932 For instance, on the Sorenson video phones we have a light ring that lights up to indicate that there's a call coming in. And not only that, there are other -- when we talk about the bells and whistles of our video phone, in reality, they're nothing more than what hearing people get.
4933 They have the ability to assign light ring patterns just like we can assign ring tones so we know when our mother's calling and we don't pick up. Even when we're 47 years old, we still don't pick up all the time when it's our mom. We want to know that.
4934 And you can assign different patterns to know, you know, if it's a work call, whatever classification you want to be able to give it, these types of things.
4935 It's really about functional equivalency.
4936 And I've also heard, you know, this idea that we give a lot of bells and whistles. But you know, when I try to go out and buy a mobile service, I don't think I can get it without caller ID, without the ability to have speed dials and voice mail. It's bundled. It's packaged. The days of really paying for each additional service, they went away a long time back when they were using the antiquated rate of return methodology that Paul talked about. That was in a different era.
4937 It's a bundled service and all we try to do is give the functional equivalent to what a hearing person gets.
4938 And I talked about the evolution of the VRS service over the years and how the VRS of today will be obsolete in a couple years because we are going to try to keep up with what the hearing people get and their improvements in telephony communication. And shame on us if we're offering the same stuff year after year and not improving just like a hearing person gets.
4939 It's all about functional equivalency and giving a deaf person access to communication at the level -- the best level we can as if they didn't have the condition that prohibits them from using the same voice telephone system as a hearing person.
4940 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
4941 Let me explain a bit where I was going with that line of questioning.
4942 If you've been listening this week, I've asked intervenors about ancillary features with -- that could be offered in VRS such as video mail and call waiting and features such as that, whether they'd be willing to pay for it.
4943 I was looking at it from the flip side of the coin in the sense that if a provider was able to provide a VRS service to the deaf and hard of hearing community and they were able to provide additional services to -- in addition to VRS through that particular channel to the deaf and hard of hearing community -- for example, I understand you offer a VRS enabled internet TV in the United States, so essentially you provided a device to the deaf and hard of hearing community that does the core task, which is provide VRS, but it also provides additional benefits such as watching broadcasting content.
4944 That's a revenue-generating opportunity, I would assume. And so my question to you is, as I've asked people at the end of the equation whether they'd be willing to pay for it, should the opportunity exist for a provider to offer additional services such as providing broadcast content or other bells and whistles as you described, Mr. Maddix, and generate revenue in that way?
4945 MR. KERSHISHNIK: Now, that is a -- that's a great question. It's a question we've been asked from time to time as people have come and looked at our industry and tried to find ways to monetize different elements of the service.
4946 And Mike might have a slightly different perspective and free to share it, but I would say that almost without -- well, without exception the features and functions that we offer are -- they're free, and if they weren't free, they wouldn't be used.
4947 For instance, for our video channel to be -- to have a subscriber rate or something like that associated with it would simply mean that people wouldn't watch the videos that we produce and put on our system.
4948 If we were to charge for different elements of the difference, they just -- it just wouldn't happen.
4949 And so as enticing as the idea is of, wait, let's find ways to generate some revenue here to defer some of these costs, the reality is is that we've just never found that to be effective, in our experience.
4950 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Well, a service can be free and still be revenue generating. I mean, the advertising model of broadcast television says as much. So do you --
4951 MR. KERSHISHNIK: Well, but then -- so you would go to someone and say we've got 20,000 users so you can talk to them about your detergent. Most advertisers would say, "20,000. Are there any more zeros on the end of that?"
4952 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: That's fair.
4953 MR. KERSHISHNIK: Yeah. And so it's just a very -- it's a relatively small community to expect advertisers to spend money to reach them via that particular medium when they can reach them via others in a broader way along with the general population.
4954 So we found that to be a difficult conversation to have, too.
4955 When we have had conversations about that, that's typically been the response. "You only have that many customers? That's it?"
4956 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, fair.
4957 Mr. Maddix?
4958 MR. MADDIX: Just to add a little perspective, you know, we talk about Sorenson providing solutions to the deaf market since -- for like 17 years, but we've only been a VRS provider for 10.
4959 The original roll-out was to actually provide video compression technology allowing deaf people to talk to each other without an interpreter. And we developed a solution that was incredibly cutting edge, and this was in the 1990s. And we actually tried to sell it to deaf people at that time.
4960 And one important note that we've heard earlier in the testimony this week is that often in deaf community are under-employed or unemployed and don't have the dispensable income that the general hearing population might have. The ability for a lot of people to pay for these services is problematic.
4961 We've heard testimony from a lot of deaf individuals who, I think, are the upper end of the deaf community and not the typical deaf person that we might find in that situation where their disposable income is lower and their education might be lesser.
4962 But what happened was that technology, in fact, became the codec that was put into Quicktime, which was really the first delivery over the internet. We licensed it to Apple. And that's what became the first real video delivery over the internet because the -- we adapted it to a hearing market because the deaf market couldn't pay.
4963 And of course, the deaf were able to use it at that point when it became more widespread application.
4964 But it's just something to be cautious about and aware of it. It's a challenge for this community.
4965 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Sure. Thank you. I appreciate that very clear answer.
4966 You note in your presentation your robust offerings from mobile and portable solutions. I note that Mr. Maddix said that mobile solutions were not available in the TELUS trial.
4967 So is this a relatively recent offering?
4968 And then as a follow-up to that, I'm wondering about usage by end users of your mobile platforms over your traditional platforms. And if that information is proprietary, you can file it confidentially, but I'd be curious about that.
4969 MR. KERSHISNIK: Oh, it probably is, but it's Mike's birthday, so we'll share it anyway.
4970 Mobile really has been -- become extremely more active in the last year and a half, couple years. And it's exploded in terms of the number of devices that have access to VRS via software downloads or application downloads.
4971 And that just wasn't available at the time of the TELUS trial.
4972 But now, the incidence of deaf users in the United States with multiple devices is growing extremely fast. Probably the -- I would guess that the average now is just shy of two. So if you looked at all -- if you look at all of the deaf users across the United States, the number still isn't quite two, but it's probably 1.7, 1.8, which means you have some people who have three or four or five devices, and some who just have the video phone or -- that's more typical, that you will have a video phone and nothing else as opposed to only a mobile device and no video phone.
4973 In terms of usage, it's very, very different than the hearing world.
4974 For us, our land line usage went into the toilet when mobility became available. Now we're almost exclusively mobile and most of us don't even have a land line any more.
4975 With the advent of mobility, that has not happened with the deaf consumer. In other words, the vast majority of their VRS minutes still occur for us, for our company, over the video phone.
4976 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
4977 MR. KERSHISNIK: And when I say vast majority, I mean, you know, 85 to 90 percent of the minutes are still over the video phone as opposed to mobile devices.
4978 But mobile device usage is growing. And the beauty of the mobile device is that it allows a deaf person to have that conversation wherever they happen to be. So it might be a shorter conversation because they -- a mobile screen is much smaller, so depending upon the user, they may not feel comfortable having a long conversation with one hand on a small screen and prefer to say, "Hey, I'll get back to you when I get home and I'll call you on the video phone", but it does allow a person to be told, "Hey, don't forget to get the loaf of bread at the grocery store or pick up that gallon of milk" that they didn't have that opportunity for.
4979 So mobility is extremely important even though its usage isn't through the roof yet, but it's growing.
4980 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And it is a relatively recent offering, as --
4981 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
4982 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: It will be interesting to see how that continues to grow.
4983 Go ahead.
4984 MR. MADDIX: You may be interested, what the biggest impact that you would see of the mobility offering has actually been on IP Relay because it used to be the deaf person who was using just the video phone at home. When they were on the go, they used IP Relay.
4985 And now that they can use VRS on the go for these quick calls, they're using that instead of IP Relay, which has to do with that 50 percent drop in usage that you've seen in IP Relay. That's all been relatively recent, since the advent of mobile VRS.
4986 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Terrific. Thank you.
4987 Quick question about reporting and monitoring. What automated reports could your system generate to help us monitor VRS? And I guess in terms of ensuring some measure of quality control in order to have some oversight to ensure the system is working.
4988 So the first question is, what sort of information, what sort of reports could be generated by Sorenson?
4989 And the second question is, as a follow-up to that, do you envision that such information be given to a potential third party administrator, to the CRTC, to both entities?
4990 MR. MADDIX: So I can tell you that we expect that we would be able to deliver whatever you asked for. Again, using the model of the United States, they ask for approximately -- I believe it's 17 different data points on every single call that we are able to provide them.
4991 There is a third party administrator that looks at that. They have a process they go through to look at the calls to make sure they're valid and according to the requirements for payment, et cetera.
4992 But largely, I think that that might be a case that it might be beneficial to try to borrow from the neighbours in the south and try to leverage that.
4993 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And is that information filed confidentially, or are those reports public?
4994 MR. MADDIX: The -- in the United States, there's a great deal of confidentiality with call detail records, they're called, and call content.
4995 We've talked about the integrity. And basically, by order of the Commission, is able to be provided to the fund administrator.
4996 And for -- like right now I'm dealing with a law enforcement request to get call detail records on a specific individual. And it's treated -- again, this idea of functional equivalency. They have to get a subpoena to get a call record for a hearing person. If they want to listen in from a government agency, they got to follow their legal process. All about functional equivalency, doing it the same way as you would with a hearing person.
4997 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you very much.
4998 Just a few questions left. Thank you very much for your patience.
4999 What, if any, costs to a VRS provider are associated with point to point calls?
5000 We saw in the TELUS trial -- well, their final report indicated that of the usage of their device during that trial, 70 percent of the calls were, in fact, point to point. And my -- I'm wondering whether the costs differ between single and multi-platform environments.
5001 You sort of alluded to that earlier in terms of your recent mobile offerings, so you may not have the adequate data at the moment to actually answer that, so that's fine. And how those costs, if there are any -- how they're recovered in terms of the reimbursement rate, for example, set in the FCC or -- and how you think it would be or how you envision it being recovered in Canada if the service is offered.
5002 MR. MADDIX: Very good question.
5003 First of all, the costs associated with it are classified as what we say are allowable versus actual costs. They're not compensating for it in the United States.
5004 In the dynamics of traditional telecommunications, because the point-to-point calls do not involve an interpreter, which is the highest cost component to any call, there are fixed costs similar to what you would have connecting voice calls.
5005 You know, you have servers and if you increase the number of users, you have to increase the capacity of the servers, et cetera, like that, but it's a relatively fixed cost and a fraction of what it would take to do the VRS calls. And again, that's one of those differences between the actual and allowable costs.
5006 Speaking of this idea of the allowable and actual costs, I do want to add one note, that actually tomorrow, on October 25th, we will be filing an appeal with the Circuit Court in Washington, D.C., about that very order that's taking these costs down to the level that ultimately would drive VRS to oblivion if it is followed in its future years and course, and I did want you to be aware of that. That's how bad it is.
5007 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Wow! And announcing it in Canada no less.
5008 MR. MADDIX: You bet, so that we can break this on the news here.
5009 MR. KERSHISNIK: And that appeal is also being joined by consumer groups as well. It's not just Sorenson opposing it.
5010 I would also say, Mr. Shoan, too that the level of point-to-point versus VRS in Canada is very consistent with the United States as well. The vast majority of traffic over our system is point-to-point.
5011 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
5012 Just to get back to your videophone for a moment, because I actually had this question earlier and it escaped my mind, I noticed that there was some mention of the videophone often being given to end users free of charge. I'm wondering how the cost of that phone is recovered.
5013 MR. MADDIX: So, actually, Sorenson retains ownership of the phones. We license its use free of charge. So, Sorenson does retain ownership for the cost. But again, it comes back to the allowable versus actual cost.
5014 You know, we talk about -- Sorenson, again, entered the space in 2003. VRS existed in the United States three years before Sorenson entered the space and its uptake was actually very low. It was a very élite service. The very highly educated and wealthy deaf were the ones who were using it because it required specialized equipment and it was using hearing solutions that were available at the time, and basically people who had money and had advanced college degrees were the only ones using VRS at that point in time.
5015 And when Sorenson came in with providing the access to the videophone, where it didn't require anything more than an Internet connection and a television to hook the videophone up to, that's when the real deaf population in the United States began to use the service, and this is all very well documented in this growth in the years, and it made a very significant difference.
5016 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. And just to close the loop on that -- and thank you for that information, Mr. Maddix. So the cost of the phone, is that an allowable or actual?
5017 MR. MADDIX: It's not an allowable cost in the calculations of the FCC, but in reality, without it, I think that the access wouldn't be there, the functional equivalent aspect. If you use a hearing person, you can go down to your local retailer and buy a telephone that you can plug into your jack for under $10, and to expect a deaf person to have to spend $400 to get a very specialized piece of equipment so that they can access the telephone system is not functional equivalence.
5018 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And that was actually my next question, Mr. Maddix. The general cost of a videophone in the States or even in Canada, the cost of your phone vis-à-vis an off-the-shelf alternative, what is the cost range we're looking at here?
5019 MR. MADDIX: Well, our cost is around $400, but if you look at, like I mentioned, the Polycom and Tandberg systems, you're in the thousand-dollar range, which are, you know, widely commercially available at least.
5020 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, great. Those are my questions. Thank you very much for being here today.
5021 THE CHAIRPERSON: Vice-Chairman Pentefountas.
5022 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Good morning. I won't bother the birthday boy at all, if at all possible.
5023 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: For the record, he gave me a thumbs up.
5024 Just to get back to the document of the day, Madame Giroux, you read out as regards -- and I'll quote you:
"Are the necessary interpreter resources available? The answer is unequivocally 'yes'."
5025 Given your subsequent statement on LSQ and also Mr. Kershisnik's statement as to the bilingual nature of Canada, would you like to revise that statement?
5026 MS GIROUX: Unequivocally yes on the ASL English interpreters.
5027 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. And on the LSQ?
5028 MS GIROUX: I can't comment on the LSQ French pool. I can say that to be somewhat proactive we have contracted with two Montreal area French LSQ interpreters and developed a screening for Sorenson in French LSQ and we have screened about 12 French LSQ interpreters on the tool. The rating is not yet complete.
5029 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And we would need how many LSQ interpreters? Have you thought about that?
5030 MR. KERSHISNIK: Just to be clear, in our estimation -- and this is just our estimation right now -- we thought there would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 6,000 LSQ users. That was in a spreadsheet that we submitted to the Commission.
5031 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah.
5032 MR. KERSHISNIK: So, if it were somewhere in that neighbourhood, then we could certainly do the math on determining how many interpreters would be required, and if you can't do that now, we can certainly submit that to you.
5033 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Would you foresee the possibility of a unilingual provider, in other words, split -- yeah, go ahead.
5034 MR. KERSHISNIK: No, I was going to ask you please to explain that just a little bit.
5035 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Well, could we have a provider for ASL, another provider for LSQ?
5036 MR. KERSHISNIK: Oh! Yes, you certainly could. You certainly could.
5037 MR. MADDIX: And that might be actually a good model to go toward because where we've talked about the -- we've heard the testimony in this hearing about the need to have distributed centres throughout Canada. Sorenson currently has the eight centres, possibly a ninth. If we were to win the bid and provide the LSQ, we might need to open a ninth centre. This is actually the opposite case where the LSQ is more of a regionalized need and because of that it might make a lot of sense to do that.
5038 In fact, in the United States there's an additional language offered of Spanish. Spoken Spanish uses ASL in the interpretation and, in fact, virtually all the interpreters that provide that service are actually located in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, which would be, I think, kind of the same idea of a centralized skill.
5039 And, in fact, there is a provider in the United States, one of the six providers, that exclusively focuses on Spanish, they go by Gracias VRS, and that's they where they found their niche and they do quite well in that space.
5040 MS GIROUX: We just -- we have a unique situation as compared to the Spanish interpreters in the U.S. because our Spanish deaf population in the U.S. uses the same sign language. So --
5041 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Same sign language as...?
5042 MR. MADDIX: ASL.
5043 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: As ASL.
5044 MS GIROUX: They use ASL.
5045 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
5046 MS GIROUX: So I have three trilingual interpreters in my Canadian centres who interpret Spanish calls --
5047 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
5048 MS GIROUX: -- but they only need to know English, Spanish and ASL. Up here the interpreter is rare that would know English, French, ASL and LSQ.
5049 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: The idea would be that you would have the LSQ interpreter and the ASL interpreter.
5050 MS GIROUX: Yeah. But there might be the case where an LSQ user would want to call an English speaker.
5051 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: We had raised that and we thought about that, the Chair and I.
5052 MS GIROUX: Yeah. It would be a challenge.
5053 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I don't think it's part of the ask in this particular proceeding.
5054 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes.
5055 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But Sorenson would certainly bid for the mandate to provide this service even if it was on a bilingual basis? I mean Sorenson would make the necessary adjustments that would allow it to be able to?
5056 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yes.
5057 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But in terms of a timeline as to when LSQ would be able to run at the same rhythm, pace and quality as ASL, no one has thought about that?
5058 MR. KERSHISNIK: We've done some thinking about it but in all honesty we don't have specific timelines around there.
5059 But I do want to say that philosophically -- and I think we've expressed it but I do want to reiterate it. Philosophically, we would want to be extremely aggressive on the LSQ side, not to the extent that it creates undue burden on the community side but just simply because if it's a service that needs to be made available we want to exercise every possible energy available to make that happen as quickly as possible.
5060 So I think that would be an important -- I don't want to say negotiation because that just sounds like we're trying to get out of something, but I think it would be an important discussion to have relative to is it 24/7, how quickly do you want it to be 24/7, et cetera, et cetera, limited on hours of day even though that's completely counter to our functional equivalent DNA --
5061 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Yeah.
5062 MR. KERSHISNIK: -- but in the early days I think there would have to be some of those limitations. But our desire would be to get out from underneath those limitations as quickly as possible.
5063 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I think you made it clear in your opening statement and subsequent questions that you fully understand the bilingual nature of this country and are respectful of that fact. That's not an issue.
5064 And I think it might also be part of the record, for what it's worth, that you understand something about training and getting up to speed on these services.
5065 That being said, and I know you've had a chance to address this issue before but it's come up on numerous occasions and I don't want to be a spokesperson for the FCC, but the idea that anything that's free lends itself to abuse and that usage may just go off the charts, and it goes back to the caps argument.
5066 Let me give you a second kick at that.
5067 MR. MADDIX: You know --
5068 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: The birthday boy is chomping at the bit.
5069 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
5070 MR. MADDIX: As we think about, you know, learning from the model of the United States with their 13 years of implementation of VRS, just like I said, the technology evolved over time and I think the regulations evolved over time. Yes, there were some abuses. There had been some individuals that were very nefarious in what they were doing. I believe 26 people ended up in jail over that. Regulations were changed. There wasn't a need to register and certify that you are deaf in the beginning of using the VRS in the United States. Today there is.
5071 There have been a lot of safeguards put in place and I think, looking at that model, you probably wouldn't want to look at the model from 2003, you would want to look at the model from 2013.
5072 And also, the role of the fund administrator plays a very significant part of that. You get a great database administrator and you start looking at the data that's been submitted, and if there were any games being played, any DBA worth half his weight in salt would be able to find them in a heartbeat and be able to identify them. That's what led to the indictments and the convictions in the United States and the discovery of the fraud.
5073 MR. KERSHISNIK: In fact, Sorenson has a lot of algorithms that we run on our data to look for patterns that are odd --
5074 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
5075 MR. KERSHISNIK: -- out of sorts and things like that. We have offered to share those with the FCC, not so that we would know what sort of programs they would be running but so that they would see what we do, so they could modify it to whatever extent they wished. But this whole idea of making sure that there isn't fraud is as adamantly shared by us as a provider as I think it is by the regulator because we want things to be legitimate.
5076 Historically, we have not seen the minutes go off the chart. They just simply have not. In our 10 years of experience we've never seen minutes, our minutes take off. So again, this predictability, I think, is there.
5077 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Can you speak just briefly on your U.S. experience with respect to the business user of the service and their usage patterns? Is it much greater than the personal usage pattern of a deaf or hearing impaired person?
5078 MR. MADDIX: It depends upon the job function of the individual, you know, their usage pattern. Again, this is -- an average number that we have of 68 includes the business users, and depending on job function, there are some people that interact a lot with hearing people in their jobs and others have relatively few calls and it just depends on the individual. I don't think you would see VRS used in an outgoing call centre where a deaf person would be placing calls to hearing people all day but they might have to call a colleague in another location, in another office across the country and have a brief conversation and have it.
5079 You may be interested to know the average call duration. This might be of interest to you as well. It's just over four minutes on average for a VRS call. This includes, you know, calls where you might have a lengthy call but it also includes the one-minute type conversations.
5080 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And no thought was ever given to a surcharge for heavier users or business users?
5081 MR. MADDIX: No.
5082 MR. KERSHISNIK: No.
5083 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Did I hear Mr. Kershisnik say that you had 150,000 users in the U.S. or was it 250,000?
5084 MR. KERSHISNIK: No, we do. We have --
5085 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You have 150,000. Okay.
5086 MR. KERSHISNIK: We're in that neighbourhood, yes.
5087 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And as a whole, the estimate isn't 250,000 that are -- I mean in terms of registered.
5088 MR. KERSHISNIK: No one would laugh at you if you said 250,000, but the numbers are between 250,000, 350,000 -- there's a range depending upon who you speak with.
5089 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. And back to this idea of excess capacity. Is there excess capacity in the U.S. that could help us north of the border?
5090 MR. KERSHISNIK: Oh! Well, I would say one of the things that we pride ourselves in as a company is running things extremely tight because, as you can appreciate, the vast majority of our costs are interpreters, over 75 percent of our costs.
5091 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
5092 MR. KERSHISNIK: And so, if you're not careful on managing that variable cost, you can get into significant trouble.
5093 But is there capacity in the United States to help handle volume in Canada? Absolutely. I can only speak for our company, I can't speak for the others, but absolutely there's capacity. And our Vice President of Interpreting, who's probably listening to this proceeding, is making a big note saying "Kill Paul when he gets home." But yeah, he would find capacity.
5094 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: He would find capacity?
5095 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
5096 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And we're basing that on?
5097 MR. KERSHISNIK: Oh, and by find capacity, I simply mean that he knows what sorts of things are happening in the United States and if we were to add any sort of additional Canadian capacity he would just need to account for that in their management of the resource.
5098 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But would you foresee American interpreters servicing Canadian needs, at least --
5099 MR. KERSHISNIK: In the beginning?
5100 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- in the early stages of the service in Canada.
5101 MR. KERSHISNIK: I don't think it would be unreasonable to assume that some of that might happen. Yeah.
5102 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: And some of the regional idiosyncrasies, I mean we mentioned that, you know --
5103 MR. KERSHISNIK: Sure.
5104 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- some people were talking about a maritime variation of sign language and it's very regional and very cultural. And I gather you've got quite a few call centres in the U.S. and I'm just wondering how an interpreter would deal with someone speaking, you know, in Newfoundland as an example --
5105 MS GIROUX: If I could speak to that.
5106 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- how well they would be able to --
5107 MS GIROUX: As a Canadian interpreter who interprets for Texans, you know, it's not easy all the time but we make it happen. And, you know, just as there are different signs north and south, there are different signs east and west. Being from Vancouver, our community has signs that aren't used in other areas of Canada. We have a SkyTrain transit.
5108 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right.
5109 MS GIROUX: We have a sign for that. If I sign that here to somebody, they probably wouldn't know what that was, you know. So you work with your consumer and you work through it.
5110 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: If the FCC does kill your service -- and these are sort of your words, Mr. Kershisnik -- just as you're trying to start up in Canada, is there any impact, any potential downside, any risks on the Canadian service if things really go south, south of the border?
5111 MR. KERSHISNIK: Well, given the FCC's rate structure and the legal proceedings that are being kicked on the 25th and the timeline associated with that, my guess is that most of the resolutions around that will have taken place in advance of things happening in Canada.
5112 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Okay. I know you don't believe in a cap but you did at one point say "If there's going to be a cap, make it $100 million." Was that in jest?
5113 MR. KERSHISNIK: And the reason I said that wasn't really entirely facetious but that's in line with what I would consider the high end estimation of what you would need at peak funding in Canada, but that's based on a specific rate of, I believe, $5.90 or something like that and 25,000 customers using -- 19,000 ASL, 6,000 LSQ and 60 minutes per month average usage.
5114 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Right. So yeah, based on that formula, 6 times 60 times --
5115 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
5116 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- 25 times 12 --
5117 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
5118 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: -- brings us to $108, I think it is. So you're even being kind there.
5119 MR. KERSHISNIK: Yeah.
5120 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You're giving up $8 million. You're leaving $8 million on the table.
5121 MR. KERSHISNIK: We'll do that for you. Happy birthday, Mike.
5122 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: You're too kind.
5123 MR. MADDIX: Do I get that?
5124 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Do you want to add something?
5125 MR. MADDIX: I think it's just noteworthy about the cost assessments we did put in to the Commission. We thought it was very important that we not try to play a game. We painted a picture that depending if you're deaf or if you're paying for this might be a worst- or best-case scenario of total access to the population of signing deaf community in Canada and it was important that, you know, we not come in at a low number to try to get the Commission to buy into something and bite off more than they realized they were. The number that we put out for the minutes of use, that is realistic. The potential high number that we put in of users of the service, again, is that scenario of best- or worst-case depending on how you look at it.
5126 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: No, there's no doubt that your formula is clear and you haven't short-changed anyone, you've got the numbers, unlike sort of most government projects where we offer to bring it in at much lower budgets than what it eventually costs.
5127 Thank you so much. I don't know if anyone else has questions, Mr. Chairman.
5128 MR. MADDIX: Thank you.
5129 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Your presentation has been very informative and there's hardly any question that could be asked which you haven't already been asked. I just have one and I apologize in advance, if you did answer it, I missed it.
5130 I'm just wondering what the ramp-up time would be to deliver VRS once the contract is awarded. How long would it take you to introduce the service if you were successful?
5131 MR. MADDIX: Well, I think if we look at what happened with the TELUS trial, from the time we negotiated the deal with TELUS until we actually began offering service was a matter of weeks. It was very quick.
5132 And again, as I caution though, we need to remember the LSQ aspect of this.
5133 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Yes.
5134 MR. MADDIX: If, you know, the two components were separated and Sorenson were to win the LSQ, it would be more a matter of months because the important component that we lack there would be the interpreting capacity. You know, as Suzie mentioned, we have the screening tool in place. We've actually screened some interpreters. We have others that have expressed interest that if this were to happen they would be interested in employment opportunities, but obviously that would be behind by a matter of months, I would expect, for the launch.
5135 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much. That's my question. Thank you.
5136 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. That concludes our questions for you.
5137 We will take roughly 10 and a couple of minutes, a 12-minute break and return at 11:35. Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1122
--- Upon resuming at 1141
5138 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of nWise.
5139 Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes. Thank you.
5140 MR. NIELSEN: Thank you very much for the invitation and the possibility to be here and introduce ourselves to you.
5141 My name is Thor Nielsen and I have been working in the industry since 1997. I hope to apologize for my using the word "vikings". We are not trying to invade Canada, we tried to do that a couple of thousand years ago, but what we want to do -- I hope what we can do is share our experience and I'm thanking you for wanting to listen to that today.
5142 During the past days here there was a lot of discussions about platform and I got a lot of questions about what's a platform, so I added this slide trying to show in a simplified way what platform is.
5143 So the MMX is the platform that we supply. We only supply the technology. You see on the left side, the customers, they can be using a web application, a videophone, an app on the Smartphone, a computer, or maybe a hearing customer of course using a plain old-fashioned telephone.
5144 Then everything goes into a gateway centralized -- it could be geographically in different areas -- to the platform and then you can have a different service providers offering their services using the technology in the platform.
5145 So everything is independent, the service providers will be focusing on their services and then you have a company managing the technology on the platform.
5146 I wrote in red something also that has been discussed a little bit, "SIP", S-I-P, which is "Session Initiation Protocol". It's a standard used in Europe for 12 years and now soon to be adopted in the United States. We are using standard, not proprietary technology, defined by the International Telecom Union ITU-T, and also adopted by the 3GPP, the mobile operators. That technology involves voice, video and text.
5147 I saw that the presentation disappeared from the screen, but I will continue. there is a paper copy, okay.
5148 So the next slide would be to show -- just on the other hand, the interpreters will be working with a workstation which is a computer. What we are doing also, we have been developing the interpreter position since 2002, together with the interpreters, focusing on the way they work so they are not using a mouse or -- code keys only, very few keystrokes, so they can focus on the signing.
5149 One screen -- and everything is SIP to the interpreter, voice and video, no different phones or different things. I have seen interpreters working with two, three, four pieces of equipment in some places, so we want to make things simple.
5150 Just a little bit before just to introduce myself and our company. We work globally with the relay services, with platforms. We have unique experiences, we have been working with countries starting up and rolling out new services. We are now in eight different countries, so we have good expertise and good practice and different regulations because, of course, we have to follow the FCC regulations in the States and the national regulations in different European countries.
5151 But, above all, we have to be interoperable. The end-user applications have to be interoperable. Some countries have different vendors that specialize in apps, some countries offer specialized services to different groups. And we also have, according to European -- not regulation, but European recommendation, be compatible between different countries so that a deaf person can call another deaf person in a different country.
5152 In this picture also I'm showing the video app that has also text. The app that we are starting to roll out in Europe, I'm hoping in the States as well, for deaf-blind people that can use an iPhone connected to Braille script and/or a PC client and the IP or MRS-based applications. They can call each other any time they want so we are not having islands of contacts.
5153 For instance, in Sweden we have advocacy groups, user groups that sit twice a year meeting to discuss the message relay service and the video relay service and there could be a deaf-blind person or signer and before the meetings or after the meetings maybe they want to talk to each other so they can choose between contacting each other via a combination of relay services or if they want to contact point-to-point. I think this is unique in Europe, because I know in this States there's a huge problem now of compatibility between different services, different applications.
5154 This is just showing the number of countries that we are working with, so it's Sweden, we are working even there with healthcare providers, VRS, deaf schools.
5155 We have the services both for text and video in Norway, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and then video relay in USA; text relay in Denmark.
5156 There was talk a little bit earlier about the Spanish-speaking relay service in the U.S., they changed names to Global. Gracias is called Global now, Global VRS. They are our customer using our platform.
5157 And we also provide, of course, the end-user apps for all the countries above.
5158 Very important here is also we developed the special services for deaf-blind in Denmark. That's the one with that we are now spreading to the other countries. It's a user group that is often forgotten, especially when you move from TTYs to IP solution. Sometimes the deaf-blind want to sign and receive text back on the Braille script, so it's very important to include those as well.
5159 Again, one platform and multiple service providers, that's the way we have been working in different countries and it is important to say that even the U.S. is planning to rollout a national platform. There is an RFP on its way, it's delayed because, as everybody knows, the federal government has been closed for a few weeks, but their goal is to have an RFP in the next few weeks or few months. So it's very important that one platform independent from the relay services is even becoming an important milestone in the U.S.
5160 There are many advantages to that, because interoperability is made much easier. Yes, there are issues in the States, we have what we call a SIP interop forum with the other providers in the States twice a year just to make sure that everything -- to try to make sure everything is working together.
5161 But this way there is interoperability, there is effectiveness in operation and maintenance because you will be having a company focusing on that and it's much easier to follow up costs and performance.
5162 And again, the service provider and the platform management are separate organizations.
5163 One thing which is important, that allows us, if a corporation is between service providers, in Europe we have even service providers between different countries and different languages working together because Finland, for instance, has a minority which speaks Swedish and Swedish sign language so they use the Swedish service as opposed to using the Finnish service because they are just less than 10 percent of the population, but they won't have availability also.
5164 And of course in case of outage, if one of the centres fails, if there is a problem with the Internet or electricity, then it can be connected to another service during the recovery process.
5165 Again, more advantages, possible to co-operate in the night shift, weekends when there is low traffic; queue overflow, so there is a queue in one service you can overflow to the other one, you can have multiple queues. With multiple queues you can also talk about specialized services for healthcare for instance and things like that.
5166 Again, interoperability and end-user devices, they can be supplied by different multiple vendors. For instance, in Sweden I think almost 5 percent of the call traffic to the relay service is done by freeware, by devices like Ekiga which people can just download on the Internet and they can use it to call the service, or it could be also provided by the service providers to ensure that there is a good unit, a good quality equipment in the market.
5167 Again, special needs usability and accessibility. Because if there is one vendor that gets the contract for the main service for the sign language, you can maybe offer a specialized service for the deaf-blind without having to set up a complete new platform, a complete new service and everything. So you are using the investment that is available already. So again a proprietary technology moving to standard technology.
5168 In Europe products like CapTel are not allowed in the market because they are proprietary, so there is a very big discussion about not allowing proprietary. We learned that from the TTY's.
5169 But talking about TTY, again, we talk a lot about -- besides interoperability about being future proof. Like there was discussions yesterday of the future. The future will never come, because whenever we are here there is something else coming around the corner. But it's important to have use standard so if there is another device or another provider that has a technology which is leading edge which is coming, you will be able to apply that and not have to change everything to use that.
5170 But also it's a problem in many countries -- actually in more North America more than in Europe -- how to work with that TTY's -- or actually how not to work with the TTY's. Our platform, you can run TTY's on the platform. We successfully ended up TTY, it's a process in Denmark that took 10 years. It has been closed down. There are 20 left now with the deaf-blind, because it's a user group that takes more time for training, so we are closing that.
5171 Norway has a timetable to close the TTY in 2017 and Sweden has a suggested timetable to close it in five years, so 2018.
5172 But you cannot just close its, you have to do it in a process. One milestone for that is to include the deaf-blind in the services and give them a good quality platform.
5173 We are not reinventing the wheel, so we are not inventing Braille scripts and Bluetooth ways of connecting things, we are using everything which is off the market, off-the-shelf. IPhones, they have this fantastic thing called voiceover and with voiceover you can actually connect text to a Braille script, which is a deaf user can have an iPhone in their pocket. So I mean it's not telling the deaf-blind users that they would keep using the TTY's.
5174 Just an anecdote on the project that we had in Denmark rolling out the new service, one of the persons, the earlier doctors, she is completely deaf and blind, and she was given an iPhone 4S and you know what she said, "I want an iPhone 5". So why should we give them old things? We are all humans so we don't want to keep using something that my mother wouldn't be using. So this is very important for us to include.
5175 There was a lot of discussions this week that I heard about figures. We have been working with services in eight different countries. Sweden, I think besides the U.S., are the two more major countries regarding VRS and VRS usage.
5176 Of course, the U.S. is a continent, we are smaller than an American State with a population of 9 million people, but we started in 1996 and it has been IP-based in the year 2000, 2001 it was SIP already, a very early adopter. You know Swedes, we love technology. So everyone who needs a video app or the hardware gets that from the Social Security. It's earmarked, so it's money that the local agencies cannot use to give wheelchairs. It's a way that the regulator wanted to separate end-user applications from the provisional services.
5177 The video relay services do provide apps, but they are only to make calls to the service and receive calls from the service.
5178 So everything is for free. And of course we again, being humans, if somebody tells me that I can get an iPad just if I get a video phone that I can use to call my friends, so I will do that because it's for free. But it's an interesting situation because of the 10-13,000 signers, that includes kids that get things from school, there are only 6,000 more videophones estimated in Sweden, so not the whole population.
5179 And another interesting figure is that an average of unique users, 2,400 call the service, the VRS every month. Again, it's a mature service and we have seen that the average number of minutes per month is around 60,000. Of course in the summer months it goes down to 55, around Christmas, big holidays, it goes up to 70-75 minutes, but average we can say 60,000.
5180 I saw that in the printout it's difficult to see the MRS number of calls. I tried to change it yesterday in the evening, but I couldn't change from this nasty yellow colour, but I can say that there there about -- I just have to count here, 5 million minutes of use in 1997, that was as the video relay started.
5181 The video relay actually was, let's say, being spread when it was IP in the year 2000. You can see that the number of calls at that point was just below 1 million and now, 12 years later, it's about the same, it's around 250-270,000 calls per year for both services, but the number of minutes of course is much larger.
5182 The number of minutes for the MRS is just below -- I think it's 2 million -- too many zeros there -- 2 million, and then the number of minutes for the VRS is about 7-800,000, because the calls are much faster.
5183 You can see here the call length in minutes. Some months they have longer minutes, some months shorter minutes. As I pointed out earlier, that means also calls that lasted 1 minute, calls that lasted 40, 50 minutes, one hour.
5184 The service is that a call can -- an unbooked call can only last for 30 minutes in Sweden. Then if you want to have a longer if you have a meeting, you have to pre-book, but that's the way it is in Sweden, just for the resources to be able to plan. But of course and I've made with a colleague of mine also some calls that have been longer than 30 minutes. They won't kill if you do that. But if the resources are scare -- let's scarce, if it's during the end of the day when the interpreter shift is -- there are less interpreters, then they may say it's a problem. So but they do complete the calls and I just want to point that out to you.
5185 There are some other common patterns that we see in Northern Europe. I haven't seen the discussion here, but re the relay service and the re the remote interpretation. They are of course two different services paid for by different funds and that applies to all countries that we work.
5186 The regulators in most European -- all European countries actually are -- no, Germany exception, are okay with the fact that both services are used in the same platform, the same interpreters, but then they want to just make sure that the charging goes to the right person or people or funds. So the TSB will pay only for VRS. But this is a way that even the regulators have seen that in the future you can offset, even cut the price per minute because VRI is growing. Even in the States VRI is growing, and I think the -- it's because apps, iPads are more available, so people are more flexible in using an iPad. If it's an emergency, you cannot get an interpreter, people are very open for that because sometimes you need the interpreter.
5187 So with the early adopters, they start calling from day one, but we have seen that the services grow slowly. It takes about three years for a service to grow and spread to different areas. I usually compare that to my mother. She is almost 80. She has a cell phone but have -- whenever she leaves from home, she is travelling or being away for the whole day, you have to remind her to take her cell phone because otherwise she won't take it, or she will take it and not turn it on. So it's not just giving a cell phone to my mother and say start calling from it because she calls -- she waits until she gets home and then she makes her call. So it's the same, we're all humans.
5188 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry, you will have to conclude. You have two minutes left.
5189 MR. NIELSEN: Okay, sorry. Average minutes, 15 minutes. If you think about the total population, the -- if you look at the 2,400 in Sweden, 45 minutes per user. So it's different when you think about what's the average minutes.
5190 Interpreters' occupancy. Much time the interpreters wait for a call or connect calls, not on relaying the calls. That's why when you think about occupancy, the next slide session, the only green part, well, in the printout, the conversation is one interpreter, there are three parties in the call. In order to save money and to make it more effective, in Holland the interpreter is connected only when the two parties are in the call, and we do that using video messages, IVR, so everybody is informed about the process.
5191 Reporting. We're doing FCC reporting as well, which is the most detailed I've seen in my life. If there's an error by 0.1 seconds in the whole month, they contact you and ask why.
5192 Integration to new immigrants, video helps. I will -- I've been talking both to interpreters in Sweden and to end users, and it helps a lot, although communication is not a hundred percent.
5193 I won't say much about 9-1-1, but we're doing 9-1-1 -- 1-1-2 in Europe -- we're setting up a multimedia gateway. We're doing that in Holland and there is some standard setup in the whole continent for that.
5194 Thank you.
5195 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner Simpson will lead the questions.
5196 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: God middag, Mr. Nielsen. Welcome to the CRTC.
5197 MR. NIELSEN: Thank you.
5198 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you for your very thorough presentation.
5199 By way of clarification, nWise is a technology solution provider as opposed to a VRS provider, is that correct?
5200 MR. NIELSEN: That's correct. We only -- and we specialized in it. So we do develop our apps and everything for the VRS market.
5201 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. As I understand it, the MMX protocol that you're using, is it MMX Pro or?
5202 MR. NIELSEN: Well, the MMX is the platform. The protocol we're using is SIP.
5203 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5204 MR. NIELSEN: So we're using the standards in Europe and which are starting to be mandated in the U.S. very soon.
5205 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. Could you, given your experience in operating in both Europe and the United States, give the Commission a better idea from your experience as to where things are at in terms of addressing? I'm thinking about how the FCC is walking away from H.323 because it hasn't evolved and are now embracing SIP as the de facto protocol. Is that a process that's complete or is it still in its evolutionary stage?
5206 MR. NIELSEN: It's still -- in the U.S. it's still evolutionary. Most of the -- actually, all the VRS providers do comply with SIP, but it's a question of interruptibility.
5207 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5208 MR. NIELSEN: So that's the question that is pending and that's why there is a meeting twice a year making sure that you can call point to point between the different devices and that you can call video mail services. So this is what's happening there.
5209 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: When it comes to Europe, you referenced in your written submission to the Commission a while back that Europe is still embracing an ENUM protocol?
5210 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5211 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Now, where is that and how is it working to interrelate to SIP?
5212 MR. NIELSEN: That is separate. SIP is used even by voice carriers.
5213 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5214 MR. NIELSEN: And there is a standard call to ENUM, and that one is used internationally. And that's what's used in the States. So in the States the number provisioning that Neustar as a -- which administers the database, they're using the same standards that any other carrier would be using. I think it's -- to my -- let's say I think it's a problem in Europe we're not using that. The user groups have raised that question a lot. The regulators have been slow in changing that. I think Sweden will be adopting to that in the next couple of years. When we started in Holland rolling out the new services, it was on the 1st of October.
5215 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5216 MR. NIELSEN: We had long discussions with the regulator asking -- asking about that, thinking that it would be positive, but they decided not to use it.
5217 The one thing which is interesting when you use a SIP address to call a deaf person, most of the calls to the relay service are placed by deaf people and because hearing people find it complicated to call a relay service and then call a -- make a second call. And what we have seen in the States in the past, the 10-digit number has been adopted in 2008 and we have seen that the number of calls from hearing people to the service has been increasing. Because if I'm deaf, I give you my visit card with a phone number, you call me if you have a question, just as if you would call me as a hearing person. But if I give you a SIP address and ask you, well, call this number first and then ask them to connect to me, then you send me an e-mail.
5218 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: When a user registers in the U.S. system, are both addresses captured, the ENUM and --
5219 MR. NIELSEN: Yes --
5220 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- and [inaudible]?
5221 MR. NIELSEN: -- because in the database. And I remember when we were rolling out our platform in the States --
5222 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5223 MR. NIELSEN: -- it was just two and a half years ago --
5224 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5225 MR. NIELSEN: -- the IP address, which is key also, the IP address, in the -- because of the legislation of the FCC, they don't want us to add a SIP address to the database. It's only H.323 and the IP information. So, we have to remove that. Having said that, there will be an interrupt test between the service providers in December -- in November, sorry --
5226 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5227 MR. NIELSEN: -- and then Neustar will allow in a test database to activate SIP. So the technology is there, but it's just the regulation which is --
5228 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mmm.
5229 MR. NIELSEN: -- not in place.
5230 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So your advice is that a system that we enable in Canada would be picking up where the FCC has landed, which is SIP?
5231 MR. NIELSEN: I think so, yeah.
5232 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah. Okay.
5233 MR. NIELSEN: Because that's what -- and also, I think -- again it's important to also define standards. People were talking about it a little bit before. Because I think and it's our opinion and it's a regulation in European that we have to be interruptible. So we cannot -- of course if we have everything proprietary, everything will work perfectly, but then you would be just closing the -- you would be closing the service to newcomers.
5234 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. Well, that was actually the line of my next set of questions. There has been observations, if not criticism that VRS as it is characterized in North America is in its middle age, if not coming to a technological end, and I think that criticism is directed more at proprietary platforms, and the pressure on VRS operators is to embrace all of the device -- the mobile devices that are emerging, and it seems you have done that.
5235 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5236 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: How is it that you ... What is the technological vision that you have in terms of remaining current and not -- you don't seem to be married to a particular device technology but you're married strongly to an open architecture platform.
5237 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah. What we strongly recommend is that a standard called Total Conversation be used. It means that you are -- you have standard for video, text and, of course, voice. So all -- it's got real-time protocol, all communications between two end points, being the service or being end users, are the same. And then to be honest with you, we're using -- we're making sure that our architecture and our standards conform to Cisco and other major vendors. Because if it works through Cisco, it will work through different network architectures.
5238 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mm.
5239 MR. NIELSEN: We had been working a lot with Tandberg that. Tandberg is nowadays Cisco as well.
5240 There are some issues when we talk about open standards. And I'm not trying to be too technical, but SIP is -- decides this part and then there is a number of optionals underneath.
5241 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5242 MR. NIELSEN: And those optionals can become a problem if they're not well-established. For instance, if you want to reconnect a call between an interpreter to another, you have to do a reconnection of -- you have to send video from this point to this point, and there is a protocol of doing that. And if there is no answer, there's a protocol to do that as well. So all these, it's -- it's very standardized and there are documents showing that. There is a -- the U.S. is doing a very big effort now with the SIP VRS forum. There is a discussion on how to define those protocols in a document. The Swedish regulator has defined them in a document that is used by the Nordic regulators. The European Union has also defined a document saying good practice for relay services and there are annexes on technology that can be read.
5243 So do --
5244 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm curious. Just to follow on on your observation of there being sublayers of interconnection issues, I have to move over to -- before I forget to a question on your reporting systems. Does your reporting system capture incomplete or dropped calls as a result of interconnection problems?
5245 MR. NIELSEN: Yes, we do. We do. And the nice part of it is that of course it won't be analyzing all the calls. I have a good example. In Sweden the relay -- video relay service was reporting that our apps had 8 percent of problems in the connection of calls. Then we could go through the log files and look at the timestamps of those calls and realized that it was originating from three different people. One of them was calling internally in the service just to make a test, and two other people were calling from a specific area, from a specific network.
5246 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5247 MR. NIELSEN: So this way we could analyse the problems and come to terms with that.
5248 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hmm. I'll continue on with one more question on your service monitoring because you've been very explicit. In your slide on service monitoring there is a list of data fields that represent - two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight - nine report fields. Is this the total of the report fields you generate are how many more are in here?
5249 MR. NIELSEN: Well, as in the previous presentation, we generate the reports as -- by the FCC, for instance. There are 32 different points, as they were saying. So we do generate all of them. This was an overview of those.
5250 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I thought so. [inaudible].
5251 MR. NIELSEN: So, for instance, interpreter ID --
5252 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5253 MR. NIELSEN: -- timestamps and everything, IP addresses.
5254 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm. I just wanted clarification.
5255 MR. NIELSEN: Okay.
5256 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Moving back to the platform --
5257 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5258 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- actually to the application itself, I find it interesting that as a technology provider and not a service provider your technology seems very ambitious and seemingly successful at being broader than just a pure VRS application. I'm talking about your Total Conversation product. My question is if nWise was to be the technology chosen by this country, would it eliminate the need for the existing MRS system because of the integration of message relay [inaudible]?
5259 MR. NIELSEN: That's correct. The ... To my knowledge and maybe the company providing the service can give other explanation, I understand that the IP part of the MRS is not standardized, it's proprietary. So that part means that you have to -- and you have to change that.
5260 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5261 MR. NIELSEN: But the TTYs would be able to just -- you just -- you can move them into the platform. And again, that's why it was -- we started with MRS in Europe and our first customers was to Danish MRS provider, TDC.
5262 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5263 MR. NIELSEN: And that's what they requested to us. They wanted to close down their TTY base, what should they do. So that was a question they asked. That was in 2002.
5264 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mmm.
5265 MR. NIELSEN: Of course at that point there was plenty of years ahead, but the operators are struggling with TTYs nowadays. Holland just closed down their TTY. They're more radical, they close from one day to the other. But it is a problem in the network how to handle TTY.
5266 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Moving from the T-- the MRS question into the issue of service delivery --
5267 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5268 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: -- on a 24-hour basis, if for economic or technological reasons we were to introduce VRS on less than a 24-hour basis, would your system have the capability to ensure that 9-1-1 PSAP calls can be generated if we made that portion available 24 hours a day?
5269 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah, it -- I can give -- if I may, I can give an example how it is in Holland --
5270 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Please.
5271 MR. NIELSEN: -- if that's okay.
5272 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5273 MR. NIELSEN: The VRS service in Holland closes at 8:00 p.m. and -- but when people call the service, if they call they are -- they get a video message saying that the service is closed but you can use text. So they can just from their apps use the text application. We're using Total Conversation standard even with the Media Gateway connected to the PSAPs. So regardless if you're using a text application or a -- let's say the video app with the text in it, you can connect to it. So what we would have to ensure is that the text -- there's a text standard being used in Canada, and I am not -- I don't have knowledge on what -- how text is being transmitted to the PSAPs.
5274 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5275 MR. NIELSEN: But that is not a big -- that is -- it's an issue that can be solved, let's put it this way.
5276 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I'm going to move back to just general service. In -- it's been our experience in the VRS trial conducted by TELUS and Sorenson that after a certain period of settling in with the trial users we were seeing evidence that about 75 percent of the calls were moving to more point-to-point-type calls. Is it -- is this consistent with your experience in Europe?
5277 MR. NIELSEN: Yes, it is. It's the same experience.
5278 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hmm.
5279 MR. NIELSEN: So, people -- let's say the need to use a relay service is lesser than point to point because of your peers.
5280 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hmm.
5281 MR. NIELSEN: It is different with the MRS because the hard of hearing, it could be a hearing person that becomes hard of hearing and then is integrated in the hearing circle.
5282 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5283 MR. NIELSEN: So it's always a question of integration. But having said that, there are some what we call super users that have integrated with the hearing people and make a lot of calls, even personal calls.
5284 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My next question on this point to point issue has to do with when a -- if a VRS service in Canada was only a translator provided within, let's say, a 12 or 18 hour day but point-to-point calling was available 24 hours a day, once the system is up and running is there a cost associated with making a point-to-point call if the translator is not part of it?
5285 MR. NIELSEN: Well, the cost again is just a dimension on the platform. And then the other cost is to ensure that 24/7 support for end to end -- point to point, sorry, is available because you don't want to tell people that, okay, after 8:00 if you have a problem with your app call us at 6:00 in the morning and then we answer to your issue. So that is the only less of making the support available. But usually the platform is very stable, so the issues are very minimal.
5286 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I see. I'm sorry to bounce back and forth between general use and 9-1-1, but I'm going through a bit of a list here. Could you describe to me the method by which your system handles and places a priority on emergency calls?
5287 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah. It's -- different countries have different legislation. So --
5288 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5289 MR. NIELSEN: -- just to note --
5290 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5291 MR. NIELSEN: -- to say that it operates in different ways. But above all, there's -- if a call is made to, let's say, 9-1-1 here, then the system recognizes that as a priority call and it's above -- it's in front of the -- of the queue. In some countries, in Norway, for instance, if it's during the evening, during the night, if there's very little or just a couple of interpreters available and a priority call comes in, what they do is that they interrupt the ongoing call and say, "I'm sorry, I have an emergency call that I have to handle".
5292 In the U.S. it's not that way because you cannot interrupt the call. But the call -- in the interpreter position it's that there is a blink. They see a sign saying --
5293 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right.
5294 MR. NIELSEN: -- there's an emergency call coming in. So the call centres, everyone is aware of that and the call centre manager as well.
5295 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So you're saying that it's more an issue of protocol and regulation as determined by the country or the regulator.
5296 MR. NIELSEN: Exactly.
5297 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But from your perspective there's not many limitations on the system.
5298 MR. NIELSEN: No, there isn't.
5299 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Next question has to do with location identification.
5300 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5301 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Here you've got this total conversation system and within the databases the location information of the user which comes at a time of registration. The question is this: If in an instance where an emergency call is not -- is outside of the hours of translator service does your system have the ability to transmit the location information to a PCAP?
5302 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah. And that's something that we are discussing rolling out now in Holland because we are placing our platform at the PCAP.
5303 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5304 MR. NIELSEN: So that a number of set of information is transmitted so the IP address would have the location information. If the call is placed from a handset it could be, let's say, a smart phone. Then you have the phone number, the operator's phone number as opposed to the end-user.
5305 Then what you also have is if it's an iPad then it's the IP address. There are some limits to that.
5306 This is now a discussion that we are trying to finalize towards the end of this year with Holland. Then it's following recommendations from the European Union on how to do address location for the next generation of PCAPs, next generation 9-1-1, I mean.
5307 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
5308 MR. NIELSEN: What we're trying to do is breach those. Because the technologies that are present, we are trying to breach and bring them forward and use those standards which are available now.
5309 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Until such a time as you have resolved that is the information retrievable by a VRS operator if the call is made during an operator-assisted time period?
5310 MR. NIELSEN: If the information is --
5311 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Is the information with the location information accessible by the VRS operator now?
5312 MR. NIELSEN: Not completely, no. We have the same -- in some -- again, sir, in some countries the information is available via the connection. Like, in Germany the relay service is considered a PCAP. So they have additional information available to them.
5313 And again, sir, in most of the countries it's not available. Again, it's because of the regulation and the way the services are set up.
5314 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you for that.
5315 Moving onto how you work with a regulator and work with a VRS provider, my first set of questions has to do with how you participate in the RFP process.
5316 For example, in this instance if we were to issue an RFP through an administrative body with one company like Sorenson the RFP would have to be tailored to a complete service provision by a vendor and in another instance an RFP would have to be -- would an RFP have to be broken down so that it just embraces technology from you and then another RFP for VRS operators or do you combine your efforts with an operator?
5317 MR. NIELSEN: In some countries it's down to the service provider that they provide everything. In some countries -- in Finland they did three different RFPs. In Holland we bid a consortium with the main telecom operator, the former incumbent, KPM.
5318 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: M'hmm.
5319 MR. NIELSEN: It was only one RFP. What we did is we split the responsibility so that it's actually four different companies working together. We did the part which is the technology.
5320 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
5321 When it comes to a successful bid, how do you handle -- I asked this question the other day of the telecoms.
5322 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5323 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: We use the term "customer care". How do you work out a satisfactory relationship in ensuring a complete customer care package to the user that involves technical assistance as well as education on the use of the system as well as education on anything related purely to the interpreter side of the equation? Is it a complete -- do you have a complete system or is it something that you put together on a --
5324 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah, we have a complete system meaning that we give the technical backup to the organizations and the responsibilities are actually split in a way that, for instance, the VRS provider usually gets the questions from their customers. So what we do, we train the VRS provider so that they have a customer care that helps their customers and then we also give technical support to the customer centre of the VRS provider or the MRS provider.
5325 Then this way the service provider is always focusing on the end-user, focusing on the good relations with the customers and know how to communicate with the customers. And we know how to discuss technology and give the backup. So sometimes in Holland now when the service rolled out the 1st of October, our support team is assisting the support team in the Netherlands solving individual issues and things like that.
5326 The call centre usually have a person also working with the technical aspects because of course they don't want a call centre to call us and say -- an interpreter to say, "Oh, my camera is broken. What should I do now?"
5327 So there are issues that are solved on the spot. Usually 80 percent of the questions, 75 to 80 percent of the questions are about the same. So the customer care usually gets very good knowledge very quickly.
5328 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay, thank you.
5329 Talking about devices and closed or proprietary systems with respect to devices that operate on android/iOS/BlackBerry would you just for the record let me know how your system works with those types of devices?
5330 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah, with a section of the BlackBerry and more or less the same -- more or less the same as I give to Norway. We don't do Nokias anymore.
5331 MR. NIELSEN: So we're not doing BlackBerry.
5332 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yeah.
5333 MR. NIELSEN: But we're doing android, iOS, PC. We have a web application, Mac and so on.
5334 So what we do follow is the usage. So for instance, Windows phones they have been in the market now for a couple of years but it's not really catching up. So the customers are not asking that so we're not -- we're not developing for them. However, since it's standard technology if there is another vendor, another developer -- it could be a small company developing an app for BlackBerry, since we're using a standard set of communication they can do that as they have been doing in different countries.
5335 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Does your system support making and receiving calls interconnecting with Skype, ooVoo and Google Chat and that type of --
5336 MR. NIELSEN: We do have a Skype gateway which is actually in operation in Sweden. It caught up -- now from zero it has about 8 percent of the traffic now especially when people who -- some people who don't have a video phone want to just make a call.
5337 The problem is that Skype is proprietory. What we do is we decompose a picture or recompose. So it's a good technology. But since it's proprietory with MicoSoft nowadays owning Skype changes something. It's a chicken race a little bit.
5338 So we had a problem with the iPads a couple of weeks ago because of iOS 7 and then it took us some days to catch up because it's proprietory. So we cannot guarantee that we are following to the dot all the time.
5339 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm very curious, and this is an opportunity to do a little competition bashing -- but I'm very curious to hear your observations about Australia and their decision to go with a pure Skype system. I know there's economics that were at play and other issues but, from an individual that's in this field technologically what are the things we should be aware of?
5340 MR. NIELSEN: I've actually visited -- we discuss a lot with Australia. I've been there about five or six times through the years. So I've seen and I know a lot about their rolling out.
5341 They are very satisfied. As you were saying, the question here is regarding how much -- how to support the end-user applications and how to finance that. In the pilot project, the pilot project they had was not financed by the government. So Skype was the cheapest solution.
5342 I would say that the problem about adopting a proprietory solution is that you're not including everyone. It could be problems. It could be that MicroSoft decides that now we -- they closed Messenger. They can decide to close Skype and say now you have to use Lynx and you have to have an Outlook.
5343 Then with the Skype technology I would just ask a question which I asked to them: What are you doing about the deaf-blind by the way?
5344 So it poses some issues. Of course, Skype is cheaper but also could pose some issues on -- depending on reporting requirements.
5345 For instance, based on the requirements of the FCC we cannot use Skype in the U.S. because of a possibility to fraud and so on, or people which are not based in the U.S. are using Skype. So it's difficult to guarantee that they are not using Skype to make a call or you are based in the States when you're using Skype.
5346 So those issues are very -- more regulatory issues I would say but also of including minorities.
5347 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'd also like to get you -- thank you. That was great.
5348 I would like to get a little more of an understanding of the point you made in your written submission with respect to text relay. You had made a very specific point of cautioning the Commission to be aware of problems device to device and particularly in the United States and text relay.
5349 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5350 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Would you please help us understand?
5351 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah. Yes, it is very interesting to see in the States what's happening in the market. There is an enforcement that VRS endpoints -- endpoints in the VRS industry have to be compatible.
5352 But there is no enforcement on IP relay or captions which means that if I have a TTY and I want -- I cannot call on an IP-based solution. Or if I want to use -- if I am deaf or hard of hearing and I need to make point-to-point calls I have to keep my TTY at home.
5353 Plus, that you are not incorporating -- since you're separating the TTYs from mainstream, from the development it means also that the devices available in the market nowadays are not -- if you are a signer in the States you're lucky because you've got a good device and interoperability at least enforcing that.
5354 But if you're hard of hearing -- if you're deaf-blind we are now trying to -- discussing releasing our app and people are just saying this is the best that happened since the seventies when TTY came. I think it's horrible that since the seventies we haven't done -- nothing was done.
5355 So that's a problem. The state regulators in the U.S. when they do captions they have a huge problem because they have a procurement every three years or five years depending on the state. It's financed by the telcos or the service providers.
5356 But then the service provider distributes the endpoints. But if you have 10,000 endpoints in the State of New York and then you want to change the service provider how do you do that? Do you tell people, "Well, now, okay, the endpoint you have is borrowed from your service provider. Please put it in a box. Send it to your service provider and now in 10 days we'll be sending you a new box with a new unit that you have to plug in and try to learn how to use it".
5357 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you for that.
5358 THE CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me. We're just going to have to take a quick two-minute break. Nobody go anyplace, okay?
5359 MR. NIELSEN: Okay.
5360 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
--- Upon recessing at 1240
--- Upon resuming at 1243
5361 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please. Everyone take their seats and we can resume.
5362 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Mr. Nielsen, I just have two more questions.
5363 Going back to your reporting system what type of information can be accessed from these reports? Now I have asked you that and you said there is 32 fields. Can these reports be broken down by individual LECs?
5364 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah, they can be broken down. But also they can be set up in many different ways. For instance, the reports we have in Holland or in Sweden are completely different than what we have here or, sorry, in the States. We were talking about the 32 points and that's in the States. That's why.
5365 But what we do is we do -- we set up a script that retrieves the information from the server so that it's automatically retrieved and sends it as a report to another entity.
5366 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I'm sorry. Actually, there's two more questions.
5367 With respect to you being a technology provider and VRS providing service, from your experience in other countries how are VRS providers selected in other countries? What are the criteria? Do you have anything to offer?
5368 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah, there are some service provisions in that hierarchy meaning, for instance, answer time if it's 20 seconds or how many -- how long the answer time is.
5369 There are some criteria on how many call centres they should have, how many minimum number of interpreters at the same time. Qualifications of the interpreters as well. Training, customer support, this kind of -- so you will be focused -- for instance, comparing to if the City of Ottawa would make RFP for community interpreters because then you're talking -- you're focusing on the quality of the interpretation.
5370 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Right, okay. Okay. Last question. I know I'm getting a big hurray from our Chair.
5371 Would you be willing to file an undertaking because this would be, I would presume, confidential information.
5372 But given that we are not as familiar with a separated RFP process technology versus a service provider, would you be willing to share with us in a confidential undertaking what you estimate would be the initial and the on-going costs of building technology, VRS technology platform such as yours? And if you could give it to us on some manner that it's scalable by number of call centres and perhaps number of customers so that we can understand how it might expand or be modified to those two criteria?
5373 I believe --
5374 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah.
5375 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. I believe the deadline is October 29th for that. Is that something that you can do for us?
5376 MR. NIELSEN: Yeah. Just a follow up --
5377 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And we won't hold you to it. It's not a bid.
5378 MR. NIELSEN: No, okay. I can do that.
5379 But just a follow-up question, though, because in some cases -- I'm just trying to see how I would phrase that. Of course there is initial costs that if you say how much a platform costs and you want the dimension, build it up and so on, so it's a fixed amount.
5380 I mean, in some countries like in Holland what we did is we say -- because, you know, once a contract is provided, let's say it's provided for five years or three years depending on the extension, so what we say, this is the cost for let's say the permanent cost for the technology.
5381 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, I think that's what we're looking for.
5382 MR. NIELSEN: Okay.
5383 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: A build-out cost and an operating cost.
5384 MR. NIELSEN: Okay.
5385 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much. Thanks for your patience, fellow panellists.
5386 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Duncan...?
5387 COMISSIONER DUNCAN: No questions. Thank you.
5388 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We will now adjourn for lunch and come back at 1:45.
5389 MR. NIELSEN: Thank you.
--- Upon recessing at 1248
--- Upon resuming at 1347
5390 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Nous entendrons maintenant la présentation de UQAM et SIVET. S'il vous plaît, vous présenter et présenter vos collègues, vous avez 20 minutes pour votre présentation. Merci.
5391 M. TURPIN : Bonjour, monsieur le président, madame et messieurs les commissaires, permettez-moi de présenter mon équipe :
5392 - à ma droite, Anne-Marie Parisot, interprète titulaire du département linguistique de l'UQAM, responsable du certificat d'interprétation visuelle de l'UQAM et également directrice du Groupe de recherche de LSQ en bilinguisme sourd;
5393 - à ma gauche, madame Suzanne Villeneuve, interprète agréée de l'Ordre des terminologues, traducteurs et interprètes agréés du Québec, chargée de cours et responsable des stages au certificat d'interprétation visuelle de l'UQAM;
5394 - et, finalement, moi-même, Alain Turpin, directeur général de Service d'interprétation visuelle et tactile connu sous l'acronyme SIVET, qui est une agence d'interprétation de la région de Montréal.
5395 Merci de nous recevoir dans le cadre de ces audiences qui nous permettront de préciser notre participation à la consultation et également d'ajouter de nouvelles informations issues d'un rapport de recherche publié en juillet 2013 qui porte le titre : « Sur les besoins et les services en interprétation visuelle au Québec ».
5396 Rappelons que notre mémoire déposé au CRTC est un exercice de présentation d'un modèle de métissage entre la recherche, la formation et le milieu pratique. Ce modèle écologique nous a permis d'utiliser nos activités d'enseignement, de recherche et de gestion pour réfléchir à une éventuelle offre de SRV qui a l'avantage d'être applicable partout où l'association recherche, enseignement et pratique est possible.
5397 MME VILLENEUVE : Commençons d'abord par quelques précisions sur l'objectif de notre participation à ce processus consultatif. Notre réflexion sur la mise en place d'un SRV est issue de la mise en commun de nos expertises respectives : tout d'abord, celle de la gestion et de l'évaluation de programme, d'enseignement, de recherche sur la formation et sur les structures des services; aussi, l'expertise de la gestion des services d'interprétation visuelle et de l'utilisation elle-même de ces mêmes services et du développement de procédures évaluatives; et enfin la mienne, celle de la pratique agréée de la profession, de la recherche sur la santé et sécurité des interprètes visuels, de l'enseignement et de l'encadrement de stages en interprétation visuelle.
5398 C'est d'abord le constat d'un besoin pour le SRV qui individuellement nous a motivés à participer à cette démarche; le constat de la recherche sur les impacts positifs documentés du SRV sur la participation citoyenne des sourds, notamment par rapport au relais texte; le constat aussi par la gestion de la difficulté de retenir les interprètes qui ne sont pas à temps plein; mais aussi le constat d'une praticienne sur la perte de temps en déplacement sur le terrain.
5399 Ensuite, ça a été l'idée commune de modèle pour l'offre de service qui nous a réunis dans une démarche conceptuelle.
5400 THE CHAIRPERSON: Could you just slow down a little bit?
5401 MS VILLENEUVE: Oh, yes.
5402 LE PRÉSIDENT : Moins vite, s'il vous plaît.
5403 MME VILLENEUVE : Qui nous a réunis dans une démarche conceptuelle. Cette démarche conceptuelle visait l'élaboration d'un modèle écologique. Or, par « écologique », ce que nous entendons, c'est la mise en place d'une structure d'offres de SRV qui :
5404 - premièrement, s'installe en complémentarité de l'offre actuelle de services en présence, et non pas en remplacement. Ce qui permettrait aux interprètes de combler des horaires de travail et qui éviterait de vider les services actuels de leurs ressources. Ce qui permettrait également de combler l'offre de services dans des secteurs moins bien couverts;
5405 - deuxièmement, ce type de modèle met à profit les expertises et les structures qui sont, elles, déjà en place dans les différents milieux, celui de la pratique, de l'organisation et de la formation pour mettre en place des conditions gagnantes qui sont, par exemple, la constitution de banques d'interprète, la formation, la définition de compétences exigées et la définition de protocoles d'implantation ainsi que du suivi de l'implantation;
5406 - troisièmement, ce modèle favorise la concertation entre toutes les parties concernées par une telle offre de service, soit les utilisateurs, les travailleurs et les employeurs;
5407 - finalement, ce modèle permet aussi le transfert des compétences de la formation vers le milieu de la pratique, mais aussi inversement de la pratique vers le développement et la bonification de contenus de formation.
5408 Mis à part les avantages offerts par un SRV, dont nous ne discuterons pas ici puisque plusieurs organismes et individus se sont déjà prononcés devant vous sur cette réalité, notre mémoire présentait les grandes lignes d'un modèle écologique qui consiste en un partenariat d'expertise entre des agences d'interprète et le milieu de la formation et le milieu de la recherche en interprétation.
5409 Notre position est basée d'une part sur la mise à profit des compétences essentielles pour le développement adéquat d'un SRV et d'autre part sur le transfert des compétences entre les milieux.
5410 Le partenariat que nous avons décrit dans notre mémoire, c'est celui d'une université et d'un service régional en interprétation. Ce n'était pas la proposition d'une offre de service, mais plutôt une vision de co-construction.
5411 Afin de l'illustrer très concrètement, ce que nous avons fait, c'est que nous nous sommes inspirés de nos propres réalités, c'est-à-dire nous avons utilisé les données de l'UQAM, une université qui forme des interprètes et qui fait aussi de la recherche en surdité depuis plus de 20 ans et les données du SIVET, qui est le plus important service régional d'interprétation au Québec.
5412 Il s'agit d'un partenariat naturel puisque nos organismes partagent une proximité géographique, un intérêt commun et une expertise complémentaire. Ce type de configuration n'est pas unique. Elle pourrait servir de modèle pour un développement concerté d'un SRV ayant davantage de chance d'implantation et d'appropriation de la part des milieux puisqu'il serait développé très près des terrains.
5413 M. TURPIN : Sur le plan de la gestion, il est important que l'organisme qui offre le SRV soit pourvu d'une structure adéquate pour le recevoir. Quelles sont-elles?
5414 - Premièrement, une structure administrative en termes de supervision, de comptabilité et d'opération;
5415 - une autre structure, celle humaine, c'est-à-dire un bassin suffisant d'interprètes;
5416 - et également les infrastructures matérielles comme des locaux suffisamment grands pour pouvoir accueillir des cabines de SRV.
5417 À court terme, si une agence d'interprétation sociocommunautaire voulait agrandir son offre de service pour le SRV, elle devrait utiliser à notre avis les interprètes à son emploi pour combler les plages horaires en sociocommunautaire. Ces interprètes en sociocommunautaire donnent des disponibilités en interprétation qui pourraient être comblées par l'interprétation SRV.
5418 Cette stratégie d'embauche pourrait éventuellement s'accompagner d'une stratégie d'embauche en créant des postes permanents pour les personnes, les interprètes pigistes. C'est à notre avis un point fort de notre modèle. Donc, la combinaison des deux types d'interprétation, soit sociocommunautaire et SRV au sein d'un même horaire permettrait la création de postes permanents.
5419 Un SRV écologique ne pourrait s'implanter que progressivement sur plusieurs années, tout comme cela se fait dans la plupart des pays, sur une période progressive. Notre modèle propose d'abord une phase de rodage de quelques mois suivi d'une phase de déploiement étalé sur plusieurs années.
5420 L'implantation du SRV devrait être accompagnée d'un suivi d'évaluation des opérations de la qualité du service. L'intégration d'un SRV ne pourrait réussir sans étape d'évaluation.
5421 À titre d'exemple, le ratio présence/distance a été calculé en fonction de notre service existant. Toute nouvelle proposition devrait être validée sur le terrain à partir des réalités professionnelles. Par exemple, comme les contraintes de santé et sécurité, de fatigue et des contraintes organisationnelles.
5422 Par exemple, si les demandes en SRV sont plus élevées les quatre premiers jours de la semaine, certains interprètes pourraient travailler en SRV quatre jours/semaine. Ce qui aurait un impact sur le ratio distance/présence.
5423 Un autre exemple tel que présenté dans notre dépôt de mémoire est l'intégration des stagiaires dans le milieu de travail, encadrés par un chef d'équipe du fournisseur de service et par une ressource d'enseignement universitaire. L'intégration de ces stagiaires ne pourrait se faire que sur une période d'implantation suivie et testée selon notre modèle.
5424 MME PARISOT : Le modèle que nous proposons comporte donc une période de recherche, d'essai et d'évaluation à mettre en place en parallèle à l'offre de service. Nous croyons, sur la base des études notamment européennes, que l'évaluation ne devrait pas être uniquement technique, mais aussi portée sur l'impact de cette nouvelle technologie sur la communication et la participation sociale des clients et sur aussi la santé et le bien-être des travailleurs.
5425 À titre d'exemple, au Québec, le temps de pause des interprètes diffère selon le secteur dans lequel ils travaillent. Le travail en relais visuel constituant un tout nouveau créneau de travail au Canada, il est nécessaire que le temps de pause en termes de durée et de fréquence adéquate soit mesuré en fonction de son impact sur les travailleurs et qu'un protocole de transfert d'appel soit mis en place de façon à minimiser l'impact des changements d'interprète sur la clientèle.
5426 Aussi, ce protocole devrait couvrir les mécanismes de sensibilisation à la clientèle, à l'utilisation adéquate du SRV et -- comme pour l'essentiel du matériel de formation et d'information qui serait développé -- pourrait faire l'objet de capsules vidéo déposées sur une vitrine Web centralisatrice à l'usage des utilisateurs, mais aussi des travailleurs et des gestionnaires.
5427 Mais, de toute façon, ce sont des choses que vous savez déjà puisque, ce que nous venons de vous présenter se trouve en plus détaillé dans le mémoire que nous vous avons déposé ce printemps.
5428 Mais nous avons aussi de nouvelles informations à vous partager. C'est avant tout parce que nous savions que nous disposerions en juillet de données diffusables issues d'une recherche financée par l'Office des personnes handicapées du Québec sur les besoins et les services québécois d'interprétation visuelle, que nous avons voulu être présents aujourd'hui.
5429 Nous avons déposé tout à l'heure le rapport de cette recherche à la secrétaire ici et il est aussi disponible sur le site Internet de mon équipe de recherche.
5430 Cette recherche, basée sur les techniques du sondage et des groupes de discussion, donc de focus groups, cette recherche présente une analyse des points de vue d'utilisateurs, d'interprètes et d'employeurs d'interprète sur, entre autres, différents aspects du SRV.
5431 Donc, en somme, le portrait statistique sur le thème du SRV qui se dégage des résultats de cette étude présente une mesure de trois choses:
5432 - donc une mesure de l'intérêt de ces trois groupes-là pour un SRV, donc soit intérêt pour y travailler comme interprète, intérêt pour mettre sur pied un tel service pour un employeur ou intérêt d'y avoir recours comme utilisateur;
5433 - ensuite, une mesure du dépôt d'une demande de relais visuel auprès d'un service actuel;
5434 - et, finalement, une mesure de l'utilité d'un SRV -- comparativement, par exemple, à un service d'interprétation en présence pour combler des besoins non répondus.
5435 Donc, en ce qui a trait à la mesure de l'intérêt, les résultats du sondage montrent que 81 pour cent des utilisateurs se disent intéressés par ce service pour 63 pour cent des interprètes et pour seulement 36 pour cent des employeurs d'interprète.
5436 Les employeurs d'interprète qui ont participé au sondage ont expliqué leur manque d'intérêt pour des raisons logistiques tels que, par exemple, le coût des infrastructures -- donc inquiétude quant à leur possibilité de payer les infrastructures; par des problèmes aussi, leur inquiétude par rapport aux problèmes d'accès de leur client au réseau; inquiétude par rapport à la qualité du signal, à la difficulté avec la technologie pour les personnes âgées et autres.
5437 De plus, à considérer en parallèle de l'intérêt modéré de la part des interprètes pour un SRV, il est clairement expliqué comme une préoccupation de la part des interprètes qui ont participé aux groupes de discussion de notre étude que le travail en SRV ne doit pas être à temps complet. Ils expriment toutefois un désir d'y travailler à temps partiel pour combler leur horaire de travail.
5438 Ce qui peut être mis en relation avec les résultats du sondage qui montrent qu'un peu plus de la moitié des interprètes québécois qui ont participé au sondage, soit 51 pour cent, ont des disponibilités qui ne sont pas actuellement couvertes par du travail d'interprétation.
5439 Autre fait pertinent découlant de notre objectif de mesure l'écart entre les besoins et l'offre de service est celui du dépôt des demandes pour un SRV par les usagers. Nous avions demandé pour chacun des secteurs d'interprétation, donc tant la santé, le scolaire, l'interprétation ASL, et caetera, incluant le SRV, si les répondants avaient déjà placé une demande et si cette demande avait été comblée, tout en sachant qu'il n'existait pas de service actuellement disponible.
5440 Les données montrent que bien que le service de SRV ne soit pas actuellement offert au Québec, 38 pour cent des répondants...
5441 LE PRÉSIDENT : Excusez-moi, moins vite, s'il vous plaît.
5442 MME PARISOT : Pardon?
5443 MME VILLENEUVE : Moins vite.
5444 THE CHAIRPERSON: More slowly.
5445 MME PARISOT : Moins vite? D'accord. Trente-huit pour cent des répondants au sondage ont répondu avoir déjà placé une demande dans un service existant auprès d'un fournisseur de services. Cette donnée, nous l'avons interprétée comme un besoin non comblé, même si le service n'est pas offert actuellement, même s'il n'existe pas.
5446 Donc, en ce qui a trait maintenant à la perception des répondants quant à l'utilité d'un SRV dans l'offre de service par rapport au service d'interprétation en présence, les points de vue des trois groupes présentent beaucoup moins d'écart qu'au sujet de l'intérêt.
5447 Alors que les réponses positives des utilisateurs et des interprètes ne varient pas significativement comparativement à leur propre réponse sur l'intérêt d'un SRV, donc respectivement on a des taux de réponse de 86 pour cent d'usagers qui voient une utilité au SRV pour 76 pour cent des interprètes qui en voient une utilité, celle des employeurs maintenant sont davantage positives comparativement à leur point de vue en regard de l'intérêt pour un SRV.
5448 Ici, quant à l'utilité, 57 pour cent des employeurs sont d'avis qu'un tel service serait utile pour combler les besoins non comblés. Rappelons que seulement 36 pour cent d'entre eux avaient émis un intérêt pour mettre sur pied un tel service. Donc, c'est quand même une donnée intéressante et éclairante.
5449 Maintenant, sur la question de l'écart entre les besoins et les services, les résultats du sondage montrent que, bien que la moitié des interprètes ont des disponibilités non comblées actuellement, les besoins des utilisateurs dans l'ensemble des secteurs d'interprétation ne sont pas comblés, même loin d'être comblés pour les services existants et ce, pour tous les secteurs d'offre de service, incluant le secteur de la santé qui est actuellement le secteur le mieux comblé.
5450 À la lumière de la mesure entre l'écart important entre les besoins et l'offre réelle de service actuellement, nous croyons qu'un SRV pourrait constituer une contribution sociale positive.
5451 Par ailleurs, une intégration du SRV à l'offre et à la structure des services existants correspondrait aux recommandations apportées suite à l'analyse des propos des utilisateurs de service quant à l'intérêt des utilisateurs pour un modèle plus centralisateur visant la mise en commun des ressources -- les ressources tant en termes de personnel, en termes de ressources matérielles, en termes d'immeuble, de biens immeubles --, mais aussi mise en commun des standards -- standards de formation, standards d'évaluation.
5452 Un tel modèle est perçu par les utilisateurs comme plus économique et favorisant le réinvestissement plus directement dans l'offre de service des ressources financières qui sont actuellement dédoublées par la gestion d'un même type de service dans des agences différentes.
5453 Donc, considérant que les interprètes veulent travailler à temps partiel dans le créneau du SRV, que les utilisateurs de service ne veulent pas faire des démarches auprès de structures démultipliées pour l'obtention de leurs services, nous croyons que le modèle écologique que nous proposons est bénéfique sur le plan de la disponibilité et de la rétention du personnel puisqu'il ne prend pas la place de l'interprétation traditionnelle en présence, mais bien plutôt en complément de celle-ci.
5454 Et, finalement, en guise de conclusion, laissez-nous vous remercier de mener cette démarche qui nous paraît d'une grande importance pour permettre aux personnes sourdes de profiter des mêmes droits humains, fondamentaux que les autres citoyens, entre autres l'accès à l'information, à l'éducation, à la santé et à la justice. Merci de nous avoir écoutés.
5455 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup. Vice-président Pentefountas.
5456 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci, monsieur le président. Bien, merci beaucoup pour votre présentation cet après-midi, surtout que ça nous donne une perspective francophone, québécoise, si vous voulez, qui manque, je dirais et qui a manqué jusqu'ici. Et nous avons eu preuve de ça plus tôt ce matin lors de la présentation des gens de chez Sorenson qu'il n'y avait aucune base de données, aucune attache à ce qui se passe, tout ce qui se fait dans la langue française.
5457 Peut-être une correction dans le document, surtout si ça va être déposé comme faisant partie du dossier public, à la sixième page, je pense qu'il y a deux petites erreurs d'ordre typographique : « toutefois, un désir d'y travailler à temps partie »...
5458 MME PARISOT : Oui.
5459 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...ça doit être partiel. Et « pout » doit être « pour », c'est ça?
5460 MME PARISOT : Exactement.
5461 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : À moins que vous ayez d'autres choses pour les fins du dossier, on va mettre ça au clair.
5462 Restons dans cette partie-là de votre présentation. Ai-je bien compris qu'il y a un bassin d'interprètes en LSQ qui chôme présentement ou qu'il y a une disponibilité déjà existante?
5463 MME VILLENEUVE : Je vais commencer à répondre à votre question. Effectivement, vous avez raison. La récente recherche...
5464 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ah, je ne fais que poser les questions, là, j'ai rarement raison.
5465 MME VILLENEUVE : Vous avez bien fait de poser la question, parce que, de toute façon, c'est ça, on voulait approfondir cet élément-là. Effectivement, selon les données dont nous disposons, 51 pour cent des interprètes n'ont pas d'horaire complet présentement, actuellement au Québec.
5466 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Um-hum. O.K.
5467 MME VILLENEUVE : Les interprètes français LSQ.
5468 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Au niveau du rythme, ça va, oui.
5469 MME VILLENEUVE : Je vous donne un exemple. Une interprète que je connais me disait justement cette semaine : elle travaille dans le milieu scolaire, elle termine à deux heures et demie l'après-midi et elle aimerait bien se trouver un créneau pour compléter ses heures de travail. Donc, c'est quelqu'un qui serait disponible pour faire du SRV et pour faire sûrement autre chose.
5470 Il y a sans doute un problème de structure. Les structures sont très organisées en silo. Donc, il y a plusieurs structures différentes et plusieurs organisations différentes. Ce qui fait que, d'un autre côté, à la fin de notre rapport, on a aussi le rapport qu'on a déposé aujourd'hui.
5471 On fait part aussi de l'inquiétude ou de la frustration des utilisateurs de services qui eux, doivent faire appel à plusieurs organismes différents pour obtenir des services.
5472 Alors, on règlera ça...
5473 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça, on va arriver sur votre concept de votre modèle écologique...
5474 MME VILLENEUVE : D'accord.
5475 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...qu'on trouve également fort intéressant.
5476 Mais ça m'étonne, parce que ça va à contrario de tout ce que nous avons entendu depuis une semaine. En langue française, il y a un manque à gagner considérable. Puis, on est très loin de pouvoir servir tous les besoins de la communauté.
5477 MME VILLENEUVE : Juste avant qu'Anne-Marie prenne...
5478 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Vous êtes l'autorité, je remarque ça, mais...
5479 MME VILLENEUVE : ... prenne la parole.
5480 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et vous êtes sur le terrain. Vous avez les données.
5481 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui.
5482 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais ça va vraiment...
5483 MME VILLENEUVE : En fait...
5484 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : À contre-courant de tout ce que nous avons entendu jusqu'ici.
5485 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui. Cette question-là a fait partie de notre sondage de la dernière étude, justement parce qu'on parlait beaucoup de pénurie d'interprétation.
5486 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
5487 MME VILLENEUVE : Et nous, sur le terrain, on avait deux sons de cloche. On avait les gens qui disaient : « Bien, on répond pas à tous les services. » Mais effectivement, on répond pas à tous les services.
5488 Il y a plusieurs services qui sont pas répondus, parce qu'on dit qu'on manque d'interprètes. Mais, il y a des interprètes par ailleurs qui nous disent qu'ils se font pas solliciter, ou bien on leur demande de donner, par exemple, deux jours de disponibilité alors que nous en avons juste une.
5489 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, pas par manque d'interprètes, mais par une mauvaise gestion organisation des effectifs qui sont disponibles, mais mal utilisés.
5490 MME VILLENEUVE : Il y aurait sûrement du travail à faire pour bonifier l'organisation, effectivement. Je ne sais pas si Anne-Marie a d'autres choses...
5491 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, c'est plus au niveau de l'organisation qu'au niveau de la disponibilité des interprètes?
5492 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui.
5493 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : D'après vos dires.
--- Off-record discussion
5494 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Pardon. Alors...
5495 À vos ordres!
5496 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, je vais faire le nécessaire dans la mesure du possible -- je ne suis qu'humain -- de ne pas vous interrompre et de vous permettre de compléter votre phrase. Et là, je vais recommencer comme ça. On va voir, on va donner la chance aux interprètes de faire leur boulot qui est très exigeant, surtout quand c'est moi qui questionne.
5497 Alors, on parlait du fait que c'est pas le manque d'interprètes qui est la problématique, mais plutôt la mauvaise façon qu'on a réussi à organiser cet effectif-là.
5498 MME VILLENEUVE : En fait, c'est certain qu'on n'a pas des interprètes beaucoup en trop. O.K.?
5499 C'est certain qu'il y a un nombre limite d'interprètes. Mais, il y a des disponibilités qui ne sont pas comblées. Alors, toutes les disponibilités des interprètes ne sont pas comblées et sans doute, les organisations pourraient bonifier leur façon de faire.
5500 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais...
5501 MME VILLENEUVE : As-tu quelque chose à ajouter, Anne-Marie, à ça?
5502 MME PARISOT : Peut-être, juste pour rajouter. Au Québec, il y a 200... le recensement de 2008 dit qu'il y a 263 interprètes visuels. Ce chiffre-là, il peut être mis en perspective avec un autre chiffre qui est celui de l'Institut de la statistique du Québec qui dit qu'il y a 6 500 quelque sourds gestuels au Québec.
5503 Donc, si on fait le ratio, ça fait quand même un ratio, interprètes... nombre d'interprètes par sourd qui est environ d'une vingtaine, 20-25 interprètes... sourds, personnes sourdes par interprète. Donc, c'est un ratio qui est quand même appréciable.
5504 Puis aussi, quand on constate que la moitié des répondants à un sondage sur le travail des interprètes exprime qu'ils ont des heures à combler, parallèlement au fait que les sourds expriment leurs frustrations par rapport à la démultiplication des structures.
5505 Puis aussi, quand on sait que sur le terrain, parce qu'on est sur le terrain aussi, quand on sait que les interprètes sur le terrain doivent fonctionner en silo à moins d'être au privé -- ça c'est une autre chose -- mais doivent fonctionner en silo. S'ils travaillent pour le scolaire, ils ont un employeur, une structure qui est différente de celle de s'ils travaillent pour le socio communautaire.
5506 Donc, les structures n'étant pas connectées entre elles, c'est difficile, autant pour la personne sourde de passer d'une structure à l'autre, mais aussi pour le travailleur, de passer d'une structure à l'autre et de lui, se faire un horaire, de se composer un horaire à temps plein.
5507 Donc, il y a une meilleure circulation.
5508 Puis, c'est d'ailleurs une des raisons pour laquelle on pense qu'un SRV devrait être intégré dans une structure qui est déjà en place pour pas faire, rajouter une troisième, une quatrième ou une cinquième structure indépendante au Québec.
5509 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si on avait besoin, si on permettait à ce que les interprètes puissent passer d'une structure à l'autre, quel serait le manque à gagner, si vous voulez, au niveau des interprètes?
5510 Il faut qu'on se mette à former combien d'interprètes pour offrir un service égal au service qui risque d'être offert chez les anglophones?
5511 Il faut former combien et ça prendrait combien de temps pour atteindre le niveau acceptable pour service un service.
5512 Puis, visons haut, 24/7, pour citer nos amis de ce matin de chez Sorenson?
5513 M. TURPIN (interprété) : 24/7, quand on parle du 24 heures, sept jours semaine, on en a discuté. Mais pour des interprètes compétents, pour pouvoir utiliser le SRV, on prévoit sur une période progressive, un peu comme cela s'est déjà fait dans d'autres pays, 24/7, pour l'instant, on ne peut pas l'offrir.
5514 Nous, dans notre plan qu'on a prévu, le 24/7 pourrait survenir la huitième année.
5515 Normalement, c'est qu'on veut bien faire les choses. Et, c'est sûr que les deux premières années, c'est une période d'ouverture de SRV. L'ouverture est plus courte les deux premières années. On ferait de 7 à 4, heure du Québec. Et à partir de la troisième année, les heures vont s'étendre de 8 h le matin à 20 h le soir, au niveau de toutes les provinces du Canada en LSQ francophone.
5516 Et tranquillement, à partir de la huitième année, nous allons être en mesure d'offrir le 24 heures, sept jours semaine.
5517 Et durant cette période d'évaluation et de tests, si on voit que les... si les interprètes sont en mesure... on évalue qu'on est capable de le faire avant la huitième année, nous pouvons le faire également avant la huitième année.
5518 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce que, si on tient compte de votre réponse, est-ce qu'on peut se permettre de ralentir ou de retarder, si ça s'avère la décision du Conseil, d'offrir ce niveau de service encore, si ça s'avère la conclusion, 24/7 à la communauté anglophone canadienne sourde ou malentendante?
5519 MME PARISOT : Mais, je pense que...
5520 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Peut-être vous approcher du micro, parce que je pense que j'ai le système de ventilation ici, là. Puis ça...
5521 MME PARISOT : Honnêtement, je crois que la question, c'est pas tant, est-ce qu'on dispose d'assez d'interprètes ou si on est capables d'en former le plus possible, le plus rapidement possible.
5522 Mais c'est aussi de... Puis bon. Je vais revenir à votre... Je fais le détour pour revenir aux Anglophones.
5523 Je pense que si on a cette prudence-là, par rapport au développement du service au Québec, nous, nous trois, c'est... bon. Dans un premier temps, on est d'accord tous les trois pour penser qu'il faut que le service soit mis en place le plus rapidement possible, que le plus rapidement possible, il y ait quelque chose qui se mette en place.
5524 Mais, si on a cette prudence-là, c'est aussi avant tout parce que pour le Québec, il n'y a pas eu de test. Il y a pas d'évaluation. On n'a pas eu ce qu'il y a eu dans d'autres provinces anglophones pour le service anglais ASL. On n'a pas eu cette partie d'expérimentation-là.
5525 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : M'hmm.
5526 MME PARISOT : Donc, on voudrait, tout en mettant en place le service, avoir la prudence de pas mettre tous les oeufs dans une direction qui pourrait être un cul-de-sac.
5527 Parce que, ce qui a été décidé correspond pas à...
5528 Puis, on se dit aussi que, parallèlement à ce qui a été fait dans la partie anglophone, la réalité du Québec n'a pas à dicter ou n'a pas à ralentir ou à accélérer ou à refréner la mise en place d'un service pour les anglophones si eux ils sont prêts. Parce qu'ils ont eu la chance de bénéficier d'une partie d'un préalable expérimental.
5529 Comme le disait Alain, tout à l'heure, dans la présentation, la plupart des endroits dans le monde qui ont mis en place un service SRV, ont expérimenté au préalable.
5530 Donc nous, cette « expérimentation-là », on la verrait avec une augmentation progressive des heures pour nous permettre de développer des protocoles, de former les gens, etc.
5531 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Pour revenir à ma question, vous n'aurez pas d'objection à ce que l'ASL roule immédiatement, s'ils sont capables de le faire, le temps que la LSQ fasse du rattrapage?
5532 MME PARISOT : Mais en fait, la LSQ pourrait être ouverte, on pense, je pense que dans les projections, c'est quelques mois d'expérimentation préalable.
5533 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5534 MME PARISOT : Donc, le décalage serait pas infini. Mais, vous serez en mesure d'offrir un service moindre que, si je peux m'exprimer ainsi.
5535 MME VILLENEUVE : En fait, dans les projections que nous avons faites au printemps, nous n'avions pas encore les derniers chiffres de... notre étude était pas complètement terminée.
5536 Donc, la disponibilité un peu plus grande que prévu des interprètes québécois, ça n'était pas... On n'en était pas aussi conscients. On n'avait pas le chiffre précis.
5537 Alors, nos projections ont été faites dans ce sens où on fait de l'expérimentation pendant quelques mois. Ensuite, on ouvre, on ouvre progressivement.
5538 Et c'est très possible, comme Alain disait, que le 24/7 soit beaucoup plus près que nos prévisions préalables.
5539 Mais effectivement, si d'autres sont prêts avant nous, on n'a pas, nous, on ne se sent pas beaucoup tenus de leur...
5540 Je sais que ça tient à coeur à bien d'autres personnes, mais on peut pas dicter aux gens le 27/7.
5541 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Non, je parle pour vous.
5542 MME VILLENEUVE : Attendez qu'on soit prêt pour l'ouvrir.
5543 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Bien moi, je me base ma question sur les données que monsieur Turpin nous a expliquées à l'effet que ça peut être huit ans, ça peut être moins.
5544 Mais les chances sont minces que ça va aller de huit ans à huit mois.
5545 MME VILLENEUVE : Minces.
5546 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Minces, good. O.K. On se comprend.
5547 Je comprends qu'il y a cette période d'expérimentation qui est nécessaire et c'est normal. Ceci étant, nous avons... il y a des données quand même. Je comprends que ce ne sont pas des données en LSQ. Mais nous avons le projet-pilote dans le Canada anglais.
5548 Et nous avons, comme nous avons entendu ce matin de la part des gens de Sorenson, 13 années d'expérience chez nos voisins du Sud.
5549 Alors, je vous écoutais parler un petit peu de votre projet sur des questions de rodage et les questions de transfert d'interprètes. Et, une espèce de protocole de transfert d'appels et tout ce qui suit, et tout ce que vous avez mentionné sans que je fasse la nomenclature de tout. Mais, il me semble, en vous écoutant, je me suis dit, ces données-là sont pas mal déjà disponibles.
5550 Alors, est-ce qu'on ne peut pas piger dans ces sources qui sont déjà en place, je comprends, dans une autre langue gestuelle, mais quand même, ça ressemble. Ça veut pas dire que tous les volets sont semblables.
5551 Mais, vous ne pensez pas que ça peut vous aider considérablement à trouver les ressources nécessaires pour rouler à un rythme plus rapide?
5552 MME VILLENEUVE : Vous avez tout à fait raison. On a aussi pris en considération le fait qu'il y a des expérimentations qui ont été faites ailleurs et qu'on doive tester. On n'a pas mis un projet-pilote d'essai dans notre modèle de 18 mois. C'est beaucoup plus court que ça.
5553 C'est sûr que la période de recherche pour voir, la période de recherche qui est aussi un suivi de la qualité, voir comment ça fonctionne, elle s'étend sur les cinq premières années. Mais, pendant que le service est ouvert, puis pour bonifier le service.
5554 Mais c'est certain qu'on partira pas de zéro. On réinventera pas la roue. On va prendre ce qui existe déjà, puis on va pouvoir voir, est-ce que ça s'applique chez nous?
5555 Je vous donne un exemple, est-ce que les temps de pause qui fonctionnent ailleurs, est-ce qu'ils vont fonctionner chez nous? Bien, on aimerait bien les tester, parce que dans notre service, on fonctionne... socio communautaire, on fonctionne d'une certaine façon.
5556 Donc, c'est ce genre de test-là qu'on va faire.
5557 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5558 MME VILLENEUVE : C'est simplement de prendre, est-ce que ces modèles-là, ces protocoles-là qui existent, que, vous avez raison, ils sont déjà présents. Ils ont déjà été testés avec beaucoup d'expérimentation. Mais, est-ce que ça, ça s'applique chez nous?
5559 Alors, c'est ce qu'on tient quand même à faire, parce que c'est une autre langue des signes, une autre langue orale. C'est aussi, bon, culture différente.
5560 Est-ce que les clients LSQ vont se comporter comme les autres? Est-ce qu'ils vont avoir des conversations qui sont autour de trois minutes ou bien de cinq minutes, ou bien beaucoup plus longues alors que ça va complètement changer le modèle, les modèles qui existent ailleurs qu'on aura pris, puis plaqués. C'est ce qu'on voulait pas.
5561 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, il y a sans doute des ajustements qui vont se faire. Mais il y a un modèle qui est déjà là, un prototype qui sera fort utile.
5562 Bon, au niveau... il y a des changements, il y a différents... puis peut-être que les francos sont plus placoteux que les Anglos. On verra en temps et lieu. Mais, il y a une structure là, il me semble. Il y a une base sur laquelle on peut bâtir un système SRV.
5563 MME VILLENEUVE : Tout à fait.
5564 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5565 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui, oui, vous avez tout à fait raison.
5566 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : J'aimerais peut-être revenir à ce modèle écologique. Et, peut-être pour utiliser... on parle beaucoup des Anglais, l'expression que j'entends souvent chez les Anglos, c'est essayer de déballer un petit peu ce modèle écologique.
5567 Est-ce l'idée que l'organisation dans laquelle l'UQAM va jouer un grand rôle sans doute, est-ce que ça sera l'équivalent du fournisseur du service SRV?
5568 Ah, je vois que... alors je vous laisse répondre.
5569 MME PARISOT : Non. Parce que le fournisseur, ça serait vraiment l'agence.
5570 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : M'hmm.
5571 MME PARISOT : Mais, l'idée de ce qu'on a proposé ou élaboré, c'est vraiment pendant les premières années, de faire du transfert des connaissances vers l'agence. C'est-à-dire entre autres, on avait mis de développer des compétences de formation chez un chef d'équipe dans une agence, par exemple, pour que ce chef d'équipe-là devienne lui-même des multiplicateurs du savoir. Lui-même forme d'autres interprètes à faire du SRV.
5572 Donc, à partir des connaissances du milieu de la formation, on forme des gens dans l'agence qui eux, deviendront éventuellement autonomes et pourront accompagner les nouveaux interprètes SRV qui seront engagés.
5573 Donc, l'idée derrière ça c'est pas que l'université devienne une agence d'offres de services. Donc, une université, c'est une maison du savoir qui offre pas d'autres services que celui de la formation, de la recherche. Mais, c'est de faire du transfert des connaissances.
5574 Puis aussi, dans ce transfert de connaissance-là, attirer des professionnels vers le milieu de la formation pour qu'on en sache davantage sur la profession.
5575 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce que vous empiét... est-ce qu'il n'y a pas de... est-ce que vous n'entrez pas un petit peu dans le domaine du fournisseur en vous occupant de la formation, en vous occupant un petit peu de ce transfert de connaissances?
5576 MME PARISOT : Bien, non. Parce que c'est ce qu'on fait, nous. On forme des interprètes. C'est notre expertise.
5577 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais, il y aura...
5578 MME PARISOT : On forme des nouveaux interprètes, ceux qui sont pas déjà à l'emploi. Puis, on offre aussi des formations ponctuelles pour des organismes qui veulent avoir des compléments ou des...
5579 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et ça, ça peut se faire sur une base sous-contractuelle avec le fournisseur, par exemple, qui aura besoin des interprètes?
5580 Est-ce que vous avez pensé à cette relation-là qui existera potentiellement entre le fournisseur et le formateur, si vous voulez?
5581 MME PARISOT : En fait, l'idée c'est d'autonomiser l'agence ou le fournisseur.
5582 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : L'agence. Ça va.
5583 MME PARISOT : C'est de l'autonomiser pour qu'il n'ait pas besoin d'un contracteur qui vienne faire de la formation chez lui.
5584 Donc, au sein de sa propre agence ou du propre organisme qui offrira le service, il y a quelqu'un qui est un interprète ou quelqu'un qui fait partie de l'équipe de gestion qui va devenir lui-même apte à faire de la formation.
5585 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et qui va financer cette formation-là? Je rentre dans les modèles qu'on a. On en a déjà discuté à quelques reprises cette semaine. Je ne sais pas si vous avez suivi un petit peu l'audience.
5586 Mais qui paiera cette formation-là? Est-ce que l'agence paiera pour la formation à UQAM, par exemple?
5587 MME PARISOT : Mais, je veux juste vous poser une question de précision. Est-ce que vous parlez de la formation initiale ou de la formation qui va être donnée en continu une fois que...
5588 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça peut être initiale des interprètes et ça peut être en continu également.
5589 MME PARISOT : Mais la formation initiale des interprètes, elle n'est pas payée par... c'est l'Université qui l'assure.
5590 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Ça va être les élèves qui vont...
5591 MME PARISOT : C'est ça. Qui s'inscrivent et qui paient pour.
5592 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5593 Et par la suite?
5594 MME PARISOT : Bien, par la suite, les interprètes qui vont être formés à l'université vont avoir des contenus sur l'interprétation SRV.
5595 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5596 MME PARISOT : Puis, vont être embauchés éventuellement, travailler dans une agence avec des compétences.
5597 Mais, pour les interprètes qui n'ont pas de compétence, qui ont déjà fait une formation ou qui sont déjà à l'emploi, bien, ces interprètes-là devront être formés.
5598 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : On va y revenir sur la formation et la certification, surtout, des interprètes.
5599 Mais, vous avez parlé brièvement d'un autre sujet qui traîne tout au long de la semaine. Et on peut l'appeler le... il y a plusieurs façons de l'adresser. Mais, l'expression qui a été entendue plutôt cette semaine, c'est le drainage du bassin d'interprètes.
5600 Et, vous en avez fait référence comme tous les intervenants ont fait référence.
5601 Est-ce qu'on peut imposer des balises à l'agence ou au fournisseur quant à la surutilisation du bassin d'interprètes?
5602 Est-ce la meilleure façon de fonctionner pour assurer qu'il va rester toujours des interprètes pour servir les besoins communautaires, hospitaliers et autres?
5603 MME PARISOT : Quand vous parlez de balises, est-ce que vous parlez de quotas?
5604 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Des règles, des contraintes, un encadrement.
5605 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Si vous me permettez, au Québec, l'agence d'interprétation, il y a six services de régional, d'interprétation au Québec.
5606 Les agences d'interprétation, on a des inquiétudes avec l'arrivée d'un SRV possible. Parce que si un service de fournisseur SRV et les agences d'interprètes qui sont dans les socio communautaires seraient... les interprètes qui sont au sein des SRI seraient intéressés d'aller travailler dans un service de relais vidéo.
5607 Donc, l'idée, peut-être, que le socio communautaire soit déjà avec le SRV, que ça appartienne au socio communautaire, ça permettrait de mieux organiser les horaires, les horaires d'interprètes. Ça leur donnerait un travail à temps plein.
5608 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais, advenant le cas -- et je pense qu'on a déjà discuté de ce fait-là -- qu'il va y avoir un manque, qu'on aura pas assez d'interprètes et que le service SRV va accaparer les effectifs de ce bassin. Ils vont vider, autrement dit, le bassin d'interprètes qui travaillent dans le communautaire.
5609 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Un fournisseur de SRV qui est mis en place, les interprètes qui sont dans les agences d'interprètes, peut-être qu'en partie, ils vont être tentés d'aller travailler dans le SRV.
5610 Nous, ça nous inquiète, le socio communautaire, c'est vrai. C'est vrai. Ça nous préoccupe.
5611 Mais, la solution que nous, on pense, que les agences d'interprétation dans le socio communautaire soient de pair avec la SRV. Ça ferait des postes plus permanents. Les interprètes pigistes, comme on disait tantôt, il y a 51 p. cent des interprètes qui aimeraient travailler à temps plein.
5612 Donc, nous on pense à ces interprètes-là, pigistes. En créant des postes, ils seraient intéressés même dans le socio communautaire, et de travailler à la fois sur le SRV.
5613 MME VILLENEUVE : Permettez-moi d'ajouter...
5614 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
5615 MME VILLENEUVE : ... à ce que mon collègue vient de dire.
5616 Effectivement, il a tout à fait raison. La part que les organismes ont de vider le bassin, c'est mis en relation directe avec le fait d'ouvrir graduellement l'offre de services SRV à l'intérieur d'un centre de services socio communautaire où justement on évite que les ressources soient mises ailleurs.
5617 Donc, l'organisme, le service socio communautaire pourrait, lui, gérer la demande, puis éviter que les interprètes se ramassent ailleurs.
5618 Fait que c'était l'idée d'empêcher justement que le bassin soit vidé par une autre structure.
5619 Tant qu'à imposer des balises aux fournisseurs, c'est pas quelque chose sur laquelle nous, on a réfléchi.
5620 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Vous ne vous êtes pas penchée là-dessus.
5621 MME VILLENEUVE : On s'est pas penché là-dessus. On n'a pas réfléchi à ça.
5622 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais, vous avez quelques journées, si vous voulez, dans le cadre d'un engagement. Peut-être nous fournir des idées à cet effet-là. Parce qu'on n'est pas en mesure d'imposer des balises aux agences d'interprètes.
5623 Mais peut-être que le fournisseur de ce service-là peut avoir des règles qui vont être mises en place pour s'assurer qu'on ne vide pas le bassin au niveau des interprètes communautaires.
5624 Ça va?
5625 MME VILLENEUVE : C'est parfait. Alors on pourra y réfléchir puis y revenir avec plus de détails.
5626 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Excellent.
5627 Sur la certification officielle, d'abord votre point de vue sur l'établissement d'un système de certification pour les téléphonistes du SRV, c'est faisable?
5628 Je vous pose la question, est-ce que les interprètes qui sont déjà en place auront besoin d'une formation additionnelle pour servir comme téléphoniste du SRV?
5629 Commençons par cette question-là, puis on peut rajouter par la suite.
5630 MME PARISOT : Bien oui, les interprètes déjà en place devraient avoir une formation pour être aptes à faire du SRV, parce que c'est quand même une activité qui est différente de l'interprétation à distance.
5631 Il y a des points, pas seulement techniques, mais aussi linguistiques. Il y a des adaptations linguistiques à faire.
5632 Donc, ils doivent être enseignés ou à tout le moins, pour lesquels ont doit conscientiser l'interprète.
5633 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et cette adaptation, cette conscientisation prendra combien de temps?
5634 MME PARISOT : Bien, les formations actuelles, je pense entre autres aux formations qui sont offertes par nos collègues français de WebSourd entre autres, d'interprétistes. C'est des formations d'une semaine. Tout au plus une semaine.
5635 MME VILLENEUVE : Et simplement...
5636 MME PARISOT : Et, on pourrait penser, excuse-moi, on pourrait envisager différents modules qui sont offerts.
5637 Donc, un module de base qui est indispensable, puis des modules qui permettent aux travailleurs déjà en place de, soit perfectionner certains aspects qui sont plus difficiles ou se spécialiser dans les types d'appels.
5638 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si j'ai bien compris, vous avez dit que nous avons présentement 263 interprètes en SLQ.
5639 MME PARISOT : LSQ.
5640 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : LSQ.
5641 MME VILLENEUVE : Ce sont les chiffres de recensement...
5642 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Avec les acronymes et les deux langues, si je me trompe, corrigez-moi. Sentez-vous à l'aise.
5643 MME VILLENEUVE : C'est des chiffres qui sont issus d'un recensement québécois de tous les interprètes qui a eu lieu en 2007. Le rapport est paru en 2008.
5644 Et, ce rapport présente un portrait des interprètes au Québec, dans quels domaines ils travaillent, quel âge ils ont, quels sont leurs problèmes et quels sont leurs opinions sur la formation et l'évaluation.
5645 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, on est dans les normes, c'est-à-dire un ratio de 20 ou 21-22, si je fais 6 500 utilisateurs potentiels pour 263 interprètes?
5646 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui, si on se fie aux chiffres.
5647 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5648 MME VILLENEUVE : Exactement, si on se fie aux chiffres de Statistique Canada. Il y a d'autres chiffres aussi un peu plus récents sur le nombre d'utilisateurs de services d'interprétation dans le secteur socio communautaire au Québec qui est un rapport de l'Office des personnes handicapées du Québec 2012, et qui eux, évaluent, chiffrent entre 2 000 à 3 000 utilisateurs. Je crois que c'était 2 000... un chiffre entre les deux, 2 500-2 600, utilisateurs de services régionaux d'interprétation socio communautaire.
5649 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5650 MME VILLENEUVE : Fait que si on se fie à ce chiffre-là, le ratio interprète, il présente un meilleur portrait.
5651 Mais, si on est entre les deux, bien oui, le portrait est tout à fait adéquat.
5652 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, c'est très bien pour le portrait.
5653 Mais, ce ratio peut être appelé à changer, suite à l'introduction d'un service SRV. Vous serez d'accord avec moi sur ça?
5655 Est-ce que vous avez une idée du ratio qui existe aux États-Unis où il y a un service de SRV en place depuis plus qu'une décennie maintenant?
5656 Ça serait quoi le ratio approprié, quand on rajoute le service?
5657 MME VILLENEUVE : C'est une donnée dont on ne dispose pas, parce qu'on a pas le ratio aux États-Unis.
5658 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Nous, on n'a pas le ratio d'interprètes à l'extérieur du Québec. On peut pas vous dire, désolé.
5659 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Bien, je vais vous poser une question sur le ratio au Québec. Et si vous n'avez pas la réponse, je commence à rajouter des engagements. Le contention (ph) vont être... pas furieux contre moi, mais légèrement... O.K. Non, c'est bien.
5660 Tout ça pour vous dire qu'au Québec, on aurait besoin de combien d'interprètes pour remplir les besoins et du communautaire et le rajout d'un SRV?
5661 Et dès qu'on trouve ces chiffres-là, parce que j'imagine que vous ne l'avez pas présentement. Ai-je raison d'assumer que vous n'avez pas ces chiffres-là?
5662 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Si vous me permettez.
5663 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Certainement.
5664 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Dans le rapport de Masson (ph) qui a été déposé, ça dit que les commentaires au niveau, l'implantation progressive, on parle de quatre interprètes pour la première année. La deuxième interprète, un six interprètes. Et par la suite, c'est neuf, 21.
5665 Donc, nous on juge qu'on est capable de compléter, de trouver le bassin d'interprètes suffisant pour suivre ce modèle-là et de s'assurer d'un suivi.
5666 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui?
5667 M. TURPIN (interprété) : N'oubliez pas que les deux premières années, c'est une période d'essai.
5668 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Je comprends ça. Mais, on aura besoin, si on suit votre calcul, de combien d'interprètes?
5669 MME PARISOT : Peut-être que...
5670 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Je veux dire au Québec, et pas de langue française. Mais au Québec, LSQ, on aura besoin de combien d'interprètes pour offrir un service 24/7?
5671 MME PARISOT : Bien...
5672 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Sans déranger et sans créer un déséquilibre avec les besoins communautaires.
5673 MME PARISOT : Peut-être que je peux comparer un peu... je pense que c'est... excusez, une question sur laquelle on pourra réfléchir puis vous amener une réponse plus complète.
5674 Mais, on peut déjà peut-être envisager de comparer la situation avec celle de la Suède où il y a quand même des points communs entre leur situation puis la nôtre en termes de nombre d'usagers.
5675 Mais je sais qu'eux, ils ont un bassin d'une centaine d'interprètes. Mais aussi, il faut prendre en compte qu'ils ne font pas seulement du SRV, mais eux, ils font, ils considèrent ça plus largement. Ils font une offre de service plus large incluant l'interprétation à distance.
5676 Mais, ils ont une centaine d'interprètes. Puis dans les peak, les moments les plus achalandés...
5677 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : M'hmm.
5678 MME PARISOT : Ils ont un maximum de 30... je pense que c'est 32 interprètes qui sont sollicités dans les moments forts.
5679 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors globalement?
5680 MME PARISOT : Donc, globalement, c'est...
5681 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : On aura besoin de 100 interprètes au Québec?
5682 MME PARISOT : Bien, je pense que ça serait moins. Parce qu'on considère pas l'interprétation à distance dans votre cas.
5683 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
5684 MME PARISOT : C'est seulement le service relais vidéo.
5685 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais, j'aimerais qu'on considère, je vous interromps, je suis vraiment désolé. Mais je veux qu'on considère les besoins du communautaire.
5686 MME PARISOT : Oui.
5687 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Parfait. Alors, on sera à quel chiffre, grosso modo?
5688 MME PARISOT : D'accord.
5689 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Dans les 60... si c'est pas 100, est-ce 75, 80, dans ces eaux-là?
5690 MME PARISOT : C'est difficile de vous répondre comme ça, à brûle pour point.
5691 Mais, si on compare la situation, il faudrait voir c'est quoi la proportion en Suède qui est attribuée au SRV, comparativement à l'interprétation à distance.
5692 Ça, c'est une donnée dont moi je ne dispose pas en ce moment. Mais, selon cette situation-là, on pourrait penser que grosso modo, c'est le même nombre d'interprètes.
5693 Donc, si c'est un ratio de 50/50, bien ça serait une cinquantaine.
5694 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5695 Alors, et nous avons présentement combien qui peuvent être prêts à travailler d'ici une semaine, suite à cette formation spéciale pour SRV?
5696 MME VILLENEUVE : Je pense que dans un premier temps, comme Alain le disait, si l'ouverture, elle est rapide, il y a aussi des disponibilités qui sont non comblées chez les interprètes qui travaillent déjà dans les agences.
5697 Donc, ces interprètes-là vont pouvoir d'abord et avant tout compléter leurs propres horaires avant de penser d'embaucher des pigistes pour pouvoir augmenter, pour pouvoir augmenter l'offre de services.
5698 Je pense que demain matin, il faudrait sans doute voir les nouveaux dans les cortes-là, les sortants des cortes.
5699 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais on sera où? Je vais poser la question plus clairement et directement. On sera où? Est-ce qu'on en aura 10, 15, 20?
5700 MME VILLENEUVE : O.K. Je crois qu'on pourrait aller chercher peut-être une vingtaine d'interprètes, mais on va vous...
5701 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Si on cherche une vingtaine, ça vous laisse une trentaine de postes à combler plus ou moins?
5702 MME VILLENEUVE : Exactement. Mais pour avoir des chiffres un peu plus précis là, on pourra vous revenir avec... Pour l'instant, c'est la réponse qu'on vous fait aujourd'hui, mais...
5703 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et pour l'instant, je veux juste clore sur ce point-là.
5704 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui.
5705 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ma question est présentement, avec le bassin d'interprètes existant en LSQ, on serait en mesure d'assurer combien d'heures de service?
5706 MME VILLENEUVE : O.K.
5707 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Je n'ai pas l'impression que j'arrive du champ gauche là. Il me semble que ce sont des questions fondamentales, auxquelles vous avez sans doute réfléchi.
5708 MME PARISOT : Oui. Si on a un petit délai, c'est parce qu'on attend que l'interprète ait fini d'interpréter votre question pour qu'on soit tous...
5709 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Bien, jusqu'ici...
5710 MME PARISOT : ...pour qu'on puisse tous répondre en même temps.
5711 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui. Je comprends le retard, mais j'ai de la misère à chercher des réponses.
5712 MME PARISOT : O.K.
5713 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Je vous le dis en tout respect.
5714 MME PARISOT : Mais si on regarde les deux gros centres... les deux grosses agences d'interprétation communautaire en ce moment au Québec, on a un bassin d'interprètes à l'emploi du SIVET et du SRIEQ, qui est, on peut dire -- Alain, tu pourras me corriger là -- mais plus d'une cinquantaine d'interprètes.
5715 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5716 M. TURPIN (interprété) : C'est exact.
5717 Au SIVET à Montréal, nous avons 50 interprètes et 10 en poste, donc, 40 pigistes, pour un total de 50. Ces 40 interprètes pigistes, la majorité d'eux seraient intéressés de travailler à temps complet par l'entremise de SRV, parce qu'en ce moment on leur donne des contrats, mais eux, ils espèrent toujours d'avoir... ils donnent des disponibilités sans avoir la garantie de certaines heures.
5718 À Québec, le SRIEQ, c'est également une grande agence d'interprétation. À nous deux, nous comblons 80 pour cent des demandes sociocommunautaires. Et eux également à Québec, c'est 50 interprètes environ. La structure est un peu comme la nôtre.
5719 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. C'est ça la réponse que je cherchais. Là, on commence à faire du chemin.
5720 Alors, avec tout ce qui est en place présentement -- et je vais vous laisser répondre, mais je veux continuer ce point-là -- on sera en mesure d'assurer combien d'heures de service dans le SRV?
5721 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Si on suit le rapport de Mission, ça dit que la première année, ça serait quatre interprètes, la deuxième, six interprètes pour combler les besoins. Chaque interprète qui travaille en SRV travaillerait en moyenne entre 12 et 15 heures.
5722 Ce que j'ai calculé, la première année, ça fait 187 000 minutes de disponibilité en SRV. Pour la deuxième année, avec six interprètes à 12-15 heures par semaine, on parle de 280 000 minutes... 800 000 heures... 880 000 heures -- pardon, c'est l'interprète -- 880 000 heures... 880 000 minutes... 280 800 minutes disponibles.
5723 Donc, selon mon calcul, si on suit le rapport de TELUS, selon leur projet pilote dans l'Ouest, en moyenne, c'était... un appel de SRV en moyenne durait cinq minutes, cinq minutes et 16 secondes pour être plus précis, mais disons cinq minutes.
5724 Selon mes calculs, la première année, c'est possible d'avoir 36 000 appels en SRV avec seulement quatre interprètes travaillant 12 à 15 heures/semaine. Lors, de la deuxième année, avec six interprètes travaillent de 12 à 15 heures, on arrive à 54 000 appels SRV.
5725 Les données, je les ai prises de TELUS, qui dit qu'un appel SRV a une durée de cinq minutes.
5726 Donc, pour les besoins au Québec, le comportement de nos utilisateurs, les personnes sourdes, en LSQ, est-ce que c'est la même chose que les utilisateurs ASL, on ne le sait pas, mais la recherche va pouvoir nous permettre de le savoir.
5727 Est-ce que les francophones parlent plus au Québec? Peut-être que ça va être sept minutes ou peut-être ça va être plus court. Ce matin on vous a dit que c'était deux minutes. Donc, c'est avec l'expérimentation... trois minutes, pardon, et c'est l'expérimentation qui va nous permettre de le savoir.
5728 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui, tout à fait. Je pense que les gens de Sorenson nous ont dit qu'aux États, il s'agit bel et bien de trois ou quatre minutes par appel.
5729 Alors, est-ce qu'on peut offrir, dans les premières années, un service 8h à 4h sept jours par semaine, 8h à 8h?
5730 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Selon les calculs qu'on vous a donnés, les chiffres que je vous ai donnés tantôt, il est prévu qu'en prenant la deuxième année d'ouverture de 8h à 4h, heures du Québec, et à partir de la troisième année, la période serait étendue à 8h le matin à 20h le soir pour le service francophone français, et ce sont les chiffres qu'on vous a déjà donnés tantôt.
5731 Et également, le nombre d'appels SRV pour la première année est de 36 000 appels SRV, et la deuxième année, 54 000 appels SRV.
5732 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5733 MME VILLENEUVE : Pour ajouter à ce qu'Alain vient de dire, ces chiffres-là sont dans notre mémoire à la page 10. Vous pourrez vous y référer.
5734 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K. Et votre préférence, est-ce que ça serait d'avoir des heures de fonctionnement réduites et plus de téléphonistes, c'est-à-dire un service supérieur avec des heures réduites, ou des heures de fonctionnement prolongées avec moins de téléphonistes, bien entendu, c'est-à-dire un service de moindre qualité?
5735 MME VILLENEUVE : Bien, je pense que ce qu'on avait présenté dans notre mémoire, c'était plutôt des heures réduites avec un service qui permettait d'avoir une qualité plutôt que des heures prolongées.
5736 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Parfait!
5737 Sur un autre ordre d'idée, est-ce qu'il existe des normes communes, si vous voulez, en matière de protection de la vie privée, et voulez-vous juste rajouter quelque chose sur toutes ces questions-là, les lignes directrices, les obligations de confidentialité, le traitement des renseignements personnels? Vous en avez parlé et dans votre mémoire de ce printemps et brièvement aujourd'hui, mais...
5738 MME VILLENEUVE : Bien, en fait, on a remarqué qu'il y avait eu beaucoup de questions sur la confidentialité, et je crois que les membres de l'AVLIC vous ont mentionné que les interprètes doivent respecter le droit à la vie privée des consommateurs, que c'est inscrit dans leur code de déontologie.
5739 C'est aussi inscrit dans celui des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec, qui stipule à l'article 27 qu'il ne peut être relevé de son secret professionnel qu'avec l'autorisation du client ou si la loi le stipule, comme tout code de professionnel.
5740 Donc, les interprètes sont tenus au secret professionnel, sauf si la loi le prescrit. Bon, je pense que vous connaissez un peu quelles sont ces conditions-là.
5741 La confidentialité des informations, c'est aussi une responsabilité qui est partagée, qui est partagée dans le code du SRV entre les interprètes, mais aussi entre l'interprète et le fournisseur de service, qui lui aussi doit s'assurer d'avoir un réseau qui est sécurisé. Et les réseaux sécurisés, ça inquiète beaucoup les utilisateurs québécois. Pour eux, c'est très important que le réseau soit sécurisé. Ils ont bien peur avec des systèmes comme Skype ou Oovoo qu'il y ait des informations qui se perdent. Le fournisseur de service doit aussi s'organisé pour que les informations qu'il détient sur ses clients soient, bon, verrouillées à l'intérieur du bureau.
5742 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Tout à fait. Oui, oui.
5743 MME VILLENEUVE : Ça, vous le savez.
5744 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Tout à fait.
5745 MME VILLENEUVE : Mais les interprètes aussi sont tenus au secret professionnel. Et je pense que dans les protocoles d'implantation, on devra aussi s'assurer d'avoir des mécanismes, parce que l'Ordre des... à l'OTTIAQ, il y a des mécanismes où on dit, si vous devez briser le secret professionnel, voici ce qu'il faut que vous fassiez, à qui vous faites rapport, comment ça doit se faire, puis quelle information vous pouvez donner et à qui.
5746 Donc, dans les protocoles de mise en service, c'est super important que les interprètes aussi soient... qu'on leur rafraîchisse la mémoire sur la confidentialité, mais qu'on ait des lignes directrices très précises.
5747 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Excellent! Alors, c'est simplement applicable, ces normes-là, au SRV au niveau des interprètes? Je comprends, au niveau technologique, ce n'est pas nécessairement de votre ressort, mais je comprends là également, sauf les cas traditionnels dans d'autres ordres professionnels, c'est-à-dire le Code d'urgence des Suisses ou des menaces?
5748 MME VILLENEUVE : Oui.
5749 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
5750 MME VILLENEUVE : Et la signalisation pour les abus chez les enfants.
5751 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Tout à fait. Oui. O.K.
5752 Nous avons déjà posé la question également plus tôt cette semaine : le pourcentage des Canadiens qui ne sont ni confortables en langue anglaise ni en langue française.
5753 Voulez-vous prendre une chance avec cette question-là également? Nous avons entendu un chiffre aussi élevé que 85 pour cent pour certains groupes, mais le chiffre qui nous a été présenté tout au long de la semaine est assez élevé. Votre expérience quant à ça?
5754 MME VILLENEUVE : En fait, le chiffre que nous pouvons vous donner, ce n'est pas le chiffre des utilisateurs mais celui des interprètes, parce que celui-là, on le connaît.
5755 Certains interprètes au Québec n'utilisent que la technologie qu'on appelle « interprétation orale » pour les personnes qui ne connaissent pas la langue des signes. Ce ne sont pas, en fait... Techniquement, ce ne sont pas des interprètes. On appelle ça des « translitérateurs », donc, qui prennent un message en français et qui vont le remoduler pour la lecture labiale en français.
5756 Ces interprètes-là au Québec constituent 23 pour cent des 263 interprètes dont on parlait tantôt qui ne font que ça. Ils sont majoritairement dans les secteurs scolaires.
5757 INTERLOCUTEUR : Combien?
5758 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Vingt-trois pour cent.
5759 MME VILLENEUVE : Vingt-trois pour cent des 263 interprètes.
5760 Et majoritairement, ils sont dans les milieux scolaires, individuellement avec des enfants.
5761 Dans les services sociocommunautaires -- je pense qu'Alain pourra aussi compléter -- selon la dernière étude que nous avons effectuée, il y aurait autour de 5 pour cent de demandes en translitération versus 95 pour cent de demandes en langue des signes et moins de 1 pour cent de demandes en tactile.
5762 Alain aurait peut-être quelque chose à rajouter.
5763 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Effectivement, si je peux confirmer ces données, elles sont exactes.
5764 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : C'est intéressant.
5765 Je pense que c'est ma dernière question.
5766 Sur toute cette question-là des caps ou de l'utilisation maximale, comme première question, et deuxièmement, sur l'idée, si vous voulez, de surcharger l'utilisateur, une espèce de modèle d'utilisateur payeur, votre point de vue sur ces surcharges, si vous voulez, et sur l'utilisation et sur le dépassement de certaines limites? Est-ce que vous pensez que c'est approprié ou raisonnable d'exiger ça des utilisateurs?
5767 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Nous, ce n'est pas notre expertise au... Nous, on n'a pas l'expertise de décider est-ce que l'utilisateur doit être payeur. Nous, on a une expertise au niveau de la formation, et nous, je crois que ça doit être de l'équivalence. Ça doit être une équivalence fonctionnelle, selon nous.
5768 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Voulez-vous... Oui, vas-y.
5769 MME VILLENEUVE : Juste pour ajouter à ce qu'Alain vient de dire.
5770 Effectivement, on ne vous donnera pas d'avis sur la question. Le seul avis qu'on aurait, c'est l'Office des personnes handicapées, dans sa politique « À part égal » au Québec, dit « sans discrimination ni privilège. » Voilà!
5771 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça veut tout dire.
5772 Finalement, voulez-vous vous pencher sur comment ce service-là sera financé? Il y en a qui parlent des FST, fournisseurs de service téléphonique, fournisseurs de service Internet. Est-ce que tous les abonnés à un service de téléphonie ou d'Internet doit contribuer? Est-ce que vous avez un point de vue? Nous avons également entendu d'autres nous dire que ça doit être le fonds général des recettes du gouvernement qui doive contribuer.
5773 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Nous, on pense que c'est le modèle centralisé de contribution nationale, du fonds national. Nous croyons que c'est le meilleur.
5774 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Des payeurs d'Internet et téléphonie terrestre et mobile? Je comprends que ce n'est pas votre expertise, mais vous êtes sur le terrain, vous.
5775 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Exactement, ce n'est pas notre expertise, comme vous le mentionnez, d'émettre une opinion à ce niveau, mais on croit que les FST, ils ont la responsabilité de contribution.
5776 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça va.
5777 Monsieur le Président, ça complète pour moi. Je ne sais pas si le contentieux a d'autres questions ou s'il y a d'autres questions. Merci.
5778 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Shoan.
5779 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Hello. Thank you for being here today.
5780 I have one comment and one quick question and it pertains to the implementation schedule for your offering that you submitted in your submission earlier this year.
5781 Firstly, thank you for submitting that. I found it a very interesting proposal.
5782 My comment is that it was interesting to me the number of operators that were going to be hired to implement the schedule and it's additionally interesting to me given the information today that there are 263 interpreters more or less offering LSQ in Quebec.
5783 So I look forward with interest with respect to the information that you will be providing at a later date, following your exchange with Commission Pentefountas, because I would enjoy learning a little bit more about how you intend to utilize the existing body of interpreters to provide this service on the basis of the schedule you provided.
5784 My question is with respect to the methodology you used for your implementation schedule, if you could give us just a little bit of background with respect to that, and specifically, I was wondering whether or not the technology costs had been incorporated into your proposal.
5785 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Merci de poser la question.
5786 Dans le dépôt de notre mémoire, on expliquait qu'au niveau du budget pour la recherche et la formation, il y avait un budget pour les opérations, par exemple, la création justement d'une agence comme le SIVET et le budget également de 178 000 dollars avec quatre interprètes travaillant de 12 à 15 heures, respectivement, chaque par semaine.
5787 Si on prévoit des minutes disponibles de 187 000 minutes de disponibles en SRV pour les appels, ça nous revient à un coût par minute de 95 sous. Ça, c'est seulement pour le budget opérationnel de l'agence, qui est le fournisseur de services qui fournit le salaire des interprètes, le soutien administratif, la vérification, la comptabilité, les assurances, donc, tout ça à 95 sous la minute. Mais ça n'inclut pas les infrastructures technologiques. Ça ne comprend non plus tout ce qui est la recherche et la formation.
5788 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. That's a very important clarification. I appreciate that.
5789 Those are my questions, Mr. Chair. Thank you.
5790 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup.
5791 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Est-ce que vous me permettez? J'aimerais juste rajouter un petit commentaire. Vous me permettez?
5792 CONSEILLER SHOAN : Je vous en prie.
5793 M. TURPIN (interprété) : Oui.
5794 Pour les cinq années, un coût par minute pour les opérations se décline à 95 sous mais jusqu'à 70 sous la minute. Pourquoi? C'est qu'on inclut les frais fixes qui deviennent stables et le nombre d'interprètes qui augmente. Le nombre de SRV minutes disponibles augmente également. C'est très intéressant.
5795 Donc, d'année en année, à cause des coûts d'opération, le frais de fonctionnement par minute diminue.
5796 CONSEILLER SHOAN : Merci.
5797 MME VILLENEUVE : Merci.
5798 THE SECRETARY: We will take a 10-minute break. Thanks.
--- Upon recessing at 1508
--- Upon resuming at 1520
5799 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
5800 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of British Columbia Video Relay Services with some of their panel members appearing via videoconference from Vancouver.
5801 Please introduce yourself and your colleagues, and you have 20 minutes.
5802 Thank you.
5803 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): Hello. First of all, I'd like to thank you for the opportunity of inviting us here today. I really appreciate that opportunity, so do my panelists.
5804 I'd like to introduce our committee. All right.
5805 First of all, I'm Lisa Anderson-Kellett. I'm a communications officer for the group.
5806 In the Vancouver office, we have Jodi Birley, our video project coordinator. Ava Hawkins is to my left, our liaison to TELUS. And on my right is Nigel Howard, the liaison to you, the CRTC.
5807 In Vancouver in the office, we also have our group's treasurer and our letter writer, and Kimberly Wood, the liaison to the Canadian Association of the Deaf.
5808 That was David Macdonald, treasurer, Susan Masters, letter-writing committee, and Kimberly Wood, liaison to the Canadian Association of the Deaf.
5809 I would like to give you a description of our background of who we are and what did our committee do.
5810 The BCVRS was set up in 2008. Five people set it up, Wayne Sinclair, Monty Hardy, Cecilia Klassen, mother of a deaf daughter. She's in the Vancouver office. Ava. Susan Masters, who's in the Vancouver office, and Ava here.
5811 The five of us have prepared this -- we have all individually presented interventions to you to this proceedings.
5812 The BCVRS is a grass roots, wholly volunteer-based committee. It includes the deaf and hearing allies.
5813 The committee has convened a number of town hall meetings with the purpose of collecting feedback and endorsing what we would communicate to you, the CRTC, that VRS services are a vital need in our community.
5814 Our work later evolved with various organizations, and we had a role to make sure that we had an exact, accurate representation of our work.
5815 The BCVRS has worked very hard to gather and relay the views of the deaf community. BCVRS came together for the purposes of several things: to advocate for the best Video Relay Services possible in B.C; to collect the views about VRS, IP Relay, VRS -- the VRS trial from the deaf community.
5816 We represent the B.C. deaf community's views to you, the CRTC, and to the telecom providers. We disseminate information to the deaf community as well from the CRTC regarding video relay and telecommunication updates from you.
5817 We are an information hub. BCVRS has managed its own web site, BCVRS.ca. It's in ASL and English. We have Tweeted over 1,000 messages this week. And we have managed messages from around 13 different VRS-related Facebook groups. 4,500 individuals have joined, this including letters, petitions and comments which prove and show a real strong desire for a VRS in Canada.
5818 BCVRS has successfully hosted two nation-wide rallies across Canada. The number of people who attended was between 650 and 1,325. They were supporters from 11 different locations across Canada.
5819 These rallies were in January and September 2013.
5820 Our group is unique in that we also participated in the TELUS trial.
5821 And now Ava is going to speak -- or sign.
5822 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): Our position is that we support the provision of VRS services in both ASL and LSQ by all telecommunication providers.
5823 Secondly, VRS communication technologies which are currently available should be our choice in what to use. For example, deaf people may want to use iPads, iPhones, their home computer, internet-based or device. Whatever device, they should not be stuck with only using their home device. They should be able to use anything. Portability is important.
5824 Inter-operability is very important. We should be able to connect with any kind of equipment or any service provider.
5825 Thirdly, BCVRS feels strongly that we should have the ability to choose in the marketplace a variety of VRS products and services. Why?
5826 Hearing Canadians have an opportunity to pick any phone you want. The deaf want exactly the same choice.
5827 For internet service providers, the hearing world, you have the right to pick anybody you want. You have that choice. But the deaf, in our experience, is that we did not get that right to choose our internet provider.
5828 We had to disconnect from our providers in many cases and go with the one for the service if we wanted to be part of this -- of the TELUS trial. We had to go with their internet provider.
5829 Fourthly, it should be mandatory to involve and to provide opportunities for deaf people in the consultation, governance and the implementation and operation of the Canadian VSR (sic) industry.
5830 In our experience, the deaf need to be involved from the very beginning through the whole process, not just when something comes up and you want our opinion.
5831 Competition is healthy. It keeps things going, keeps everything up to date and it keeps the quality of service top-notch.
5832 Our presentation, our representation is that the CRTC should require that deaf people should be employed -- deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind should be included in VRS services when it's offered across Canada.
5833 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): Hello. Deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind Canadians, as do other Canadians, aspire to be productive, contributing to the economic and social and cultural development of their community and country.
5834 Accessible information and communication is essential to participating in the Canadian economy. We need access to the community to communicate. This is vital. Then we can be inclusive within the Canadian economy.
5835 Technology has evolved, but the deaf community is still back in the dark ages. We can't get involved with various opportunities within our society because we can't communicate with them.
5836 Canadians have the right to be part of the fabric of our society, and we're in the dark if we cannot access and be able to communicate with other Canadians across Canada. We want employment opportunities. We want the ability to be able to have job advancements.
5837 Complex information is relayed more effectively. We want independence. If we can communicate with our employers, then we can be more productive in our jobs.
5838 Within the 18-month trial, we learned a lot about the opportunities that lay ahead of us. And we could communicate more effectively with our employers.
5839 When we sign, we can give everything that -- we can communicate very clearly with everyone, and so then you can recognize exactly that we are skilled, intelligent deaf individuals.
5840 One employee who worked for a large bank during the VRS trial, that person was able to move up, be promoted within their job because they could show their skill sets and they could manage meetings and organize different events and activities. And their employer was quite impressed. But when the trial ended and VRS was taken away, sadly, this person was demoted.
5841 Another deaf individual was working -- who was involved in the trial was quite technical and was a plumber. And he was able to express what his needs were and how technical it was through the interpreter.
5842 Another example in northern Canada, there was a young teenage boy -- you know, on Friday evening there was a bunch of them going out. I'm sure you can recall when we were teenagers.
5843 And this boy wanted to -- yeah, a long time ago. Maybe. That's right.
5844 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): That teenage boy or girl invited their high school peers, who happened to all hear, and so, unfortunately, this friend had to ask their friend to please call for a pizza. They said, "Oh, of course. You're deaf. You'll have to depend on other people all your life".
5845 But during the VRS trial, this deaf teenager could ask everybody what they wanted to order, pizza and pop, and he or she could go off and order the pizza for everybody. And then they could see that they could be just as independent, equally functioning teenagers just as they are.
5846 And so that enhances their self pride and their self worth, and they become far more independent.
5847 The social and economic benefits of VRS.
5848 Without VRS, many deaf citizens will continue to miss an opportunity to be partners in the economy. As an employee, as a consumer and as a first-class citizen, often deaf and hard of hearing persons are overlooked for employment opportunities, even if they are well qualified.
5849 They'll say they may not be able to use the phone. How can they communicate or how can they work with us if they can't use the phone? And they may say, "Well, I can use my BlackBerry".
5850 Obviously to be successful you need to communicate, and if we have VRS then those barriers are eliminated.
5851 Social development, networking for advancement enhances the quality of life for all deaf and hard of hearing deaf-blind Canadians.
5852 You know, we are talking about real people and real life situations. When we establish VRS, then they can be a true part of Canada.
5853 You know, all those grass roots deaf communities can finally participate and if they can't, if you don't have VRS, then they won't -- they will become invisible and right now, frankly, we are invisible.
5854 Why do we want VRS? I can tell you, VRS improves the quality of communication. If there is a problem -- they would like the deaf person who is signing on the screen.
5855 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): Rewind again.
5856 Why VRS? First of all, here are the things I could tell you: It improves the quality of communication. I could say ASL is the natural native language of the deaf. Deaf immigrants who arrive in Canada normally learn the first thing is a visual language. Written English comes later.
5857 VRS interpreters operate in real time and that saves time. However, I would rather show you -- could we see the DVD, please?
--- Video presentation
5858 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): So go ahead, yes, VRS/SRV.
5859 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
5860 Commissioner Duncan will lead the questioning.
5861 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Well, thank you very much for your presentation and your video.
5862 I have been with the Commission since 2005 and that's certainly the most impactful presentation that I have witnessed. You have certainly made your point, as have the others that have appeared before us this week.
5863 So I don't have that many questions. As you know, we have been fortunate enough to talk to other parties through the week so the questions are getting fewer, but there are a few things I wanted to explore.
5864 The Ontario VRS Committee submitted that a wait time of 5 to 10 minutes would not result in a high rate of call abandonment or hang-ups and we are interested in your comment on that statement and how that compares to your experience with the TELUS trial.
5865 Nigel...? Mr. Howard will respond to that.
5866 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): No, it isn't acceptable to wait that long. You want quick access as soon as possible. You don't know, have they forgotten me, is there somebody still there, have I been disconnected? There are so many variables.
5867 Deaf people have a history of oppression with service providers when they make a call, so if they are waiting it's not going to be very satisfactory. You want to be answered right away and to have the confidence that that is going to happen. So the best thing is to have calls answered as quickly as possible.
5868 We can't see the Vancouver office, the panel is scant. Whoever. They have disappeared from the screen.
5869 Thank you. It's there now, thank you.
5870 Do any of our panellists want to add to that? No? Okay.
5871 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So I understand, then, you want them answered as quickly as possible. Would 2 minutes be acceptable? I mean obviously you want it immediately, but would --
5872 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): No, I don't think it is.
5873 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Can you --
5874 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): Like I said, in real life, real life situations, people have lives. For too long, the deaf, the hard of hearing and the deaf-blind have been putting their life on hold because service isn't there, something isn't ready, something hasn't been set up.
5875 We have been put on hold long enough, do we have to do that for the rest of our lives. For you 2 minutes, ah, nothing; that's nothing, but 2 minutes is a long time. We have other responsibilities and commitments, things to do, we may be taking care of our children, we may be doing all kinds of things, and to be worrying about whether somebody is going to answer, we want the same services you have as a hearing person. I they say, "Please hold", that's different. We want somebody to answer right away.
5876 Ms Masters in Vancouver would like to respond.
5877 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Go ahead.
5878 MS MASTERS: We have no audio.
5879 From the other side of BCVRS we also agree that a 5 to 10-minute wait time is too long, but we also understand -- and the members of the deaf community in B.C. have a strong desire to get services up and running as soon as possible, so wait time -- reasonable wait time, as Nigel said, as long as people have an immediate response, whether it's visual or a flashing light that yes, your call is accepted and you are in the queue and you know how long you are in the queue, the communities are willing to deal with that.
5880 We have Jody in Vancouver responding as well.
5881 MS BIRLEY(interpreted): For myself, I have experienced my own experience in the trial, out of all the calls that I ended up making, I would say my waiting time was not that long. It was very infrequently I had to wait. I noticed that the calls were being answered efficiently and I didn't experience a lot of wait time. Whatever the trial experience was, I would have been satisfied with that as a regular service. It would have been, you know, 2 minutes or less and as long as it's something like that, that it be expected and reasonable.
5882 I know that there are many other calls that people make generally to businesses, to companies, of course we understand that you have to wait, you get put in a queue, but we don't want to be 5-10 minutes having to wait to get the call answered.
5883 But in my experience with the trial, I never had to wait so I think that that is quite efficient.
5884 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): I would like to add from my personal experience, during those answers I was thinking about the time that I saw a black screen. If it has the text on it that says "Please hold" then I know it'd just going to be a short wait. That would be acceptable --
5885 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): A short wait.
5886 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Apparently the interpreter couldn't see so I'm just trying to figure that out. Ah, there we go. Thank you. It's on the screen.
5887 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): I will repeat myself then for the screen.
5888 My personal experience during the trial -- and I was thinking about this while other people on the committee were answering the question -- there were a few times when I had a black screen, but there was text on the screen that said, "At this point the interpreter is busy, would you mind waiting?" If I saw that screen, then I had peace of mind at least. If it was blank, I would wonder what was going on, but that gave me confidence that something was about to happen. As long as it's not too long a wait.
5889 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: So it's encouraging that the TELUS --
5890 MS WOOD (interpreted): Hello. My name is Kim and one of my concerns is that, you know, what if I have to call 9-1-1 immediately and it is an emergency and I have to wait several minutes, so I just want to keep that in mind, that that would make a difference. If it's a 9-1-1 emergency call we would want some kind of priority.
5891 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. We certainly have addressed the 9-1-1 and certainly recognized that that is an issue going forward. We have certainly heard that the TSPs are well aware of that, the telecommunications providers.
5892 I think it's encouraging, your comments on the TELUS trial.
5893 Just to go back specifically to the point raised by Mr. Howard, when you do wait, did you always in the TELUS trial get a message that your call was going to be answered or that you were in a queue or did you just wait?
5894 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): I had the same experience as Jody. Most times I would get the message that said "Please hold", but there were times when there was nothing there and you really wondered was it working, was there a problem? You know, you were uncertain of what was happening. And wasn't the only person who heard that during the trial, but most of my experiences were fine.
5895 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. It would sound that that would be a concern that would certainly be addressed in setting up the parameters and obviously something that could be addressed if most of the time it worked satisfactorily there.
5896 Some of the interveners, as I'm sure you have heard, have questioned the long run benefits of VRS in an environment where other telecommunications tools such as e-mail, SMS and Skype are ubiquitous and we are just wondering from your point of view what your comment would be to that.
5897 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): All right. Your world, the world you grew up in, is an audio-oriented world, you depended on sound. That's what you internalized. That was what you heard. That became part of you, your being, but for the deaf it's very different, it's a very visually oriented world. What I take in through my eyes is what I become. Very different ways of living. Of course, we do many of the same things, but my life experience is very different from yours because I took it in visually.
5898 Having various communication, things like text or TTYs is an English-language based system. That's what you took in auditorially, but visually my internal feelings, emotions, thoughts, opinions, et cetera, would be expressed is a visual language, I need to take it in visually and give it out visually. That's what I am as the person, not a text-based language-based program.
5899 How do I say this in words, I didn't grow up doing that, that wasn't what I internalized. So for many people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind it's their hands, it's that visual communication that's very important.
5900 Ms Hawkins...?
5901 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): It's very evident in the trial that the foundational fund of information for people was missing, they didn't have some of the fundamentals.
5902 Many times we would get into discussion with TELUS and we would tell them you have to understand that the deaf community doesn't understand this or that or whatever. Even though they listen to us, they weren't culturally matching what was happening. They really couldn't understand what was happening in the deaf community.
5903 For example, remember when Nigel explained or spoke about how you grew up in a hearing world. You listened to the radio, you saw -- were listening to the television, you could hear the fan, conversations all around you that were incidental conversations and you got all kinds of incidental information and it empowered you and built up all that fount of information you had. But a deaf child growing up did not have that. 90 percent of deaf people have hearing parents. And those hearing parents who have deaf children, as that child is growing up, the grief is so great that their child is deaf, does not have full communication with that child. They may not sign. And that deaf child will grow up with missing information. A lot of that foundational information is missing.
5904 During the trial we noticed that there were a lot of people who were missing, who had gaps in fundamental communication and information. Nobody had ever taught them how to use a phone. They saw people talking on the phone, talking on cell phones, walking around, but, you know, they would say what are you saying, what are they saying, and it became a, well, okay, who do I call, how do I call, who should I call?
5905 During the VRS trial, we started with a three month trial. At -- in the first three months 95 percent -- not even 95 percent of the calls were point-to-point calls. Why? Because it was the first time for a deaf person that they could make an actual visual phone call. They were so excited. The same thing with hearing people who first get to use a telephone. So the statistics would say people didn't use VRS at the beginning three month period. That's what Soren-- that's what they thought in the trial. At the beginning that's truly what happened. A very small portion of the people were using the video relay service. Our committee realized it was because people didn't know how to use the service well.
5906 We asked TELUS to run town hall meetings, to set up training situations, how to use telephones, what kind of situations to use it in, here's what you do, et cetera, et cetera. We've listened to the presentations all week. Sorenson said this morning, and it was the first time that I -- I'm not sure if I got it exactly, but it's -- it was the first time I had heard this, that when Sorenson said we don't have a mandate to tell people or encourage them you can phone the doctor and make an appointment, you can make this kind of a phone call or that kind of a phone call. They can't market their service. At least that's what I heard in the States, that it was illegal. We didn't know that.
5907 So what we did in the trial period was we set up some town hall meetings. We had skits. We had parents with -- deaf parents, with CODAs, hearing children. We had all kinds of situations. We had a teacher in this skit who wanted to discuss something with the deaf parents about their child. And we explained you could phone through VRS, you could phone the teacher, you could phone the principal. And the deaf parent said I had never thought of that, what an important use of VRS. Because they had never been exposed, there had not been enough exposure to that kind of information. To be empowered with that kind of information was very important in the town hall meetings. Jodi would like to add something.
5908 MS BIRLEY (interpreted): I just want to get back to you answering the question specifically and there are more and more mobile devices that are being used, text based, for example. And a good example is my personal experience last week I went to an event called We Day, which was hosted in Vancouver, and I was really impacted by the experience. There were people from around the planet that participated in this. And they were talking about literacy. Specifically, so many of them are illiterate. And I was thinking about the deaf community. And we're a small population when you consider how many people actually exist on the planet. And when you think about literacy, it's just such a small number. I'm thinking maybe 2 to 5 percent actually are illiterate. So -- on the planet. So when you think about having to depend on text-based communication, that is not accessible.
5909 I have travelled the globe. I am a world traveller and so many people have approached me. I am very fortunate that I have a strong educational background. And I have seen so many deaf individuals around the province that really, you know, maybe have not as strong of an educational background as I have. I think about their level of understanding of the English language, their ability to communicate effectively in English, and it breaks my heart. I think about the -- the very few deaf people who can truly communicate freely in English. And I still struggle to write a really coherent e-mail if I have to, and I have a high level of literacy, but I still struggle and it takes me more time expressing myself. And I think about other people and the struggles that they must have having to rely on text based. We are so behind. The amount of time that they have to spend on developing whatever the communication is through text, if they're doing it through TTY, the other person is sitting there waiting while the deaf person is trying to type out their message. They're continually getting more and more anxious because they have to get that message out in English. The hearing person is sitting on the other end wondering what's going on. It's not an effective system. And it's a question of English. There is not a high percentage of deaf people that are competent in English, so that's not a solution and I'd like you to consider that.
5910 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Would you -- would you say then that education ...
5911 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): One moment, sorry. We were just waiting for the interpretation to finish from Vancouver.
5912 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): Nigel would like to add the last point on the -- to the last point.
5913 Adding to Jodi's comment, her point -- if you remember when I was talking about how you grew up and you were inculturated by the hearing world and audio, if you think that the deaf have some kind of a lesser inculturation, that's not true. It's not that they're uneducated. They have a different way of life, a different way of taking in information, and VRS provides a bridge which increases self-esteem, allows a person to become who they really are and their true potential. And society will say, yeah, look, this person has skills, knowledge, ability, but they have a different way of doing things. That's the point. It's a different way of communicating, using visual, using our hands, using sign language.
5914 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you. The -- I gather then education might be what you'd consider to be the biggest barrier in the consumer adoption of VRS when it's implemented, or is there some other barrier that you would consider more significant?
5915 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): Susan would like to respond to that in Vancouver, Ms Masters.
5916 MS MASTERS: Hello in Vancouver. To answer -- sometimes the disadvantage of being bilingual, I can see everything that's happening in Gatineau, so I -- I'm cognizant of the delay.
5917 But to answer the commissioner's question, I hope you didn't misunderstand Jodi's very eloquent point, that education in English, in spoken language, is the issue of why the uptake and the adaptation of SMS and any text-based services based on a spoken language is because of people's lack of literacy in spoken language and, therefore, written versions of those spoken languages are the issue.
5918 The uptake of VRS, it is our opinion of the BCVRS, based on our experience of collecting information, holding town hall meetings, travelling around the province, and talking to more than 120 individuals, that there is no barrier to uptake in VRS. We are ready. We want it. We had the trial. People are telling us that they feel that they've had something stolen from them. They had the experience of being a productive member of the society through the trial and it was gone.
5919 So in terms of education, there is not an issue with that. The other issues that are brought up are all issues that can be solved. But in terms of in at least in our B.C. community there is no barrier to the deaf community adopting VRS service.
5920 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think I was thinking nationally, that there might be a need for education. The town hall meetings have been held in the Vancouver area, but perhaps across the country there might be a need when it is implemented.
5921 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): Absolutely.
5922 I would like to add also during the trial and if we think about this past week, the topic has come up often about the high percentage of point-to-point calls used in VRS in the service when we had the trial, but I wanted to just explain to you what our experience was and what we saw. Very little use of VRS at the beginning, a lot of point-to-point calls because people were so excited about it. And as I said, we needed to show the numbers going up. So we had town hall meetings, we set them up, we explained what to use VRS for, how to use it, et cetera, and we started to see the numbers go up.
5923 I'm the -- was the workshop coordinator and that's what I do every day actually in my professional life. And our belief is that during the actual setup process of VRS we need to be providing workshops, community education, one-on-one training, in person, in people's homes, having coffee hours, whatever it takes to explain how to use VRS, how to use apps, how to use the equipment, whatever it's going to be. Whatever it takes to establish VRS for each of these -- for each person. We will produce videos, we believe we should, to provide step-by-step instructions on how to use it. And also, we will have technical support available through VRS that will be completely accessible and that will solve many of the issues and increase the numbers of VRS users. You'll see the scales tip significantly.
5924 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. Thank you.
5925 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): It would be the opposite at that point then.
5926 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you very much. I have to be mindful of the amount of time that I have and also the availability of the interpreters, so I'll just try to move on because some of my panel members will want to ask questions as well.
5927 I'm just wondering with respect to the cost of VRS. There's two aspects to it. First of all, I'm wondering your comment on whether there should be a fee for the VRS service that you would pay as a user.
5928 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): The deaf consumer would say, no, that they should not pay for that service. It should come from that national fund where all -- that's -- the National Contribution Fund. We think that's where it should come from, the central -- yeah.
5929 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay, thank you. That's not surprising. Thank you.
5930 I'm just wondering does the requirement to have an internet subscription, do you feel that affects the affordability of VRS?
5931 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): As in society in general, some people have jobs, some people don't, but it's true there are a high percentage of our community who are on social assistance and so we need to take that into consideration. We do pay our internet bills now, we do pay for Wi-Fi, the wireless modem services, and for the equipment, but I think the VRS service should be free and no charge.
5932 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Thank you.
5933 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): I'd like to add -- Mr. Howard would like to add and emphasize one of the important points is -- that Lisa made, we do pay, of course we pay for we -- for using the mobile phone, for the internet, et cetera, but we're not getting equal service for what we're paying for to what you pay for. Hearing people pay the same amount of money. I'm a deaf person, you're a hearing person, we pay in the same amount. I get back a heck of a lot less. I pay for a voice plan for my mobile phone, I never use it. What's fair about that? So instead of that you need to consider that as one of the issues here.
5934 As well, the internet speed is also a concern in VRS from homes. You get a lot of that blurring, staggered. You have to pay more obviously to get the clearer -- the higher speed internet service to get the clearest image, and that is a concern for sure because you pay more.
5935 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think it's our understanding that the level of internet service that is available should be adequate to deliver the quality picture that you need and certainly it's something that's going to be investigated further as the process moves along.
5936 Those are -- in the interests of time, that's -- those are high last questions, but I think there are other members of the panel that have a question.
5937 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Shoan.
5938 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good afternoon. Thank you for being here.
5939 This week I've been asking appearing parties about the potential platform that could be employed for a VRS-type service. There have been some parties that have suggested there should be a common platform. In your presentation, you said -- you suggested that there be a variety of choices available for potential end users. I presume that means there would be interoperability standards to ensure that people could choose and switch between them, that's fair.
5940 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): Yes, for sure.
5941 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Yes. So my -- so my -- and my -- I have two questions. My first one is about your experience with the TELUS trial and the use of the video phones of Sorenson. They were here earlier today. And I was curious as to the impression of the deaf and hard of hearing community with respect to the use of this phone, whether it is the ideal way to use VRS. And I also wanted your opinion as to the effectiveness of a software-only solution, such as Skype or a software such as that.
5942 MR. HOWARD (interpreted): Mr. Howard will answer. As we -- as Ava and Lisa have said, during ... We have nothing to compare it to. There has not been another VRS service in Canada for us to compare. Sorenson was the one and only.
5943 Talking about Skype, I've been -- I was in Australia recently and I met a man who was running ... He was an advocate for setting up a VRS service in Australia. I asked him a lot of questions, and he was a user of Skype and I did use it there. But he said it's not been that successful. The reason why is, number one, it can be quite blurry. It's not as smooth as it should be. And as well, each operator has to be added to your Skype list of contacts.
5944 Now, in Australia you have six operators, so all six of those operators have to be on your Skype contact list. You have to see through the colour of whatever, green, that person is available, you click on it, and hope that they respond that they're available. If it's red, you don't call them or you might send them a little message saying I'm waiting. So you have six additions to your Skype contact list. You should just have one number obviously to be able to call. So I'm not sure if it would be a benefit to use Skype. That would be one of the issues that you'd have to sort out.
5945 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you very much. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
5946 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): I'm just asking if anybody in Vancouver wants to add anything. No. That's okay.
5947 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
5948 One final question. I recognize this is a group that's representing British Columbia residents. I was curious, however, as to whether you had reviewed the UQAM/SIVET model, the model suggested by the LSQ organizations. And specifically, the model in which they suggested that VRS would be provided through an interpreter training-based program and what your views were on that type of model. And if you haven't read it and you're not aware, that's fine. But if you have an opinion, I would like to hear it.
5949 MS ANDERSON-KELLETT (interpreted): We haven't yet read it and so we can't speak to that question.
5950 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. That's fine. Thank you for your time.
5951 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your participation today. We will now adjourn for 10 minutes.
5952 INTERPRETER: One moment, please. THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. To be fair to everybody else who appeared who didn't get to speak after an adjournment --
5953 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): I wanted, actually, to say thank you.
5954 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay.
5955 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): I wanted to --
5956 THE CHAIRPERSON: I was just going to say keep it brief and we would appreciate it.
5957 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): I will keep it very brief. I just want to thank Jade Roy, Commissioner Simpson, who has been working with our committee. Jade Roy and I have been talking to each other every -- almost every day for the last month. The technology that you have provided in the room today, the interpretation, the contracting out for the visual interpretation and ASL and LSQ has been absolutely champion. It's been the top service and we want to acknowledge that because we've been getting tweeted for the whole week thank you for providing that to us because it is the first time in history that we have ever seen something bilingual in sign language. So thank you because that made an impact on us.
5958 And if it's not -- I don't know if it's appropriate or not, but we have five DVDs for each of you for the commissioner. So pass -- we will pass that on to Jade. Thank you for letting me say that.
5959 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We will return at 4:35.
--- Upon recessing at 1622
--- Upon resuming at 1634
5960 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Mission Consulting who is appearing by Skype from Sacramento.
5961 Please introduce yourself and you have 20 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
5962 MR. STOBBE: Thank you. I am Bill Stobbe, a Managing Partner of Mission Consulting.
5963 I would like to thank the deaf organizations and the Canadian telephone companies that asked the CRTC to have Mission Consulting participate in this hearing. And I would like to thank the CRTC for inviting us and for suggesting that we could participate via video.
5964 We are honoured to be here to answer the Commission's questions about our VRS feasibility study and our report's findings.
5965 I do not have a prepared presentation as such. However, before I try to answer the Commission's questions, I think it might be beneficial to various parties that are participating in the hearing to know about the perspective that Mission Consulting brought to the study.
5966 First, I would like everyone to know that the feasibility study report was written for the CRTC. It was not written for Bell Canada.
5967 Mission Consulting is independent of all providers and companies. Very importantly, our study was assisted by a VRS Advisory Committee consisting of CAB, CHS, OAD, CQDA and finally Bell Canada.
5968 Now, we were also greatly assisted by many people that were very generous with their time and discussions including many deaf consumer organizations all across Canada, interpreter organizations, community interpreter businesses, the interpreter training programs in Canada's colleges and universities and many individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing who participated in discussion groups, interviews and online surveys and also organizations that we contacted in other countries.
5969 Now, Mission Consulting is not new to this research. We are an established telecommunications consulting firm with experience in public policy, technical designs, complex procurements and facilitation and solutions with diverse stakeholders.
5970 And we have had in-depth and continuing consulting involvement with re-licence in 1987, always working for the public organizations that contract the various relay services in working with the deaf constituent groups that represent its users.
5971 So when we approached this study we knew it was important to approach it with an open mind and without bias, knowing that it was important to listen to all groups, not to carry any U.S. assumptions into this study and to ensure that we are able to convey the critical aspects of deaf culture and deaf communication into the project.
5972 Also, we gave equal attention to the LSQ and ASL populations. We took over a year to carry out the study and to develop its analysis and reports.
5973 Now, we have been encouraged by others to present our study's key findings at this hearing. But I think that the hearing -- I think that's already happened. I think there has been lots of discussion.
5974 So rather than try and highlight all of the key findings, I suggest that perhaps the best approach is just to be available to answer the Commission's questions.
5975 But first I would like to apologize in advance if I don't have a ready answer to any particular question. As you know, our report is over 800 pages. It contains a lot of detail and it was developed by a team of people. But I'll do my best so any time that you would like to ask questions I'm available.
5976 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
5977 Commissioner Raj Shoan will lead our questioning.
5978 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
5979 As you noted, the Mission Consulting Report is a matter of the record for this proceeding. I think insofar as we can, we should probably focus our questioning on any new information that has arisen this week to flesh out some of the details arising from that report. So I'll try to do that as much as I can.
5980 But before I begin my questioning, given that we are on Day 4 and given that the Mission Consulting Report has been referenced throughout this week, I wanted to give you an opportunity to perhaps respond to some of the new information that has arisen over the last few days to determine whether any of this new information has changed any of your recommendations, and also to give you an opportunity to reply to comments from appearing parties with respect to any recommendations that they felt weren't accurate or perhaps any new recommendations that were offered which differed from those recommendations contained in your report.
5981 MR. STOBBE: Thank you. Would you like me to address that now or do you specific questions or items you'd like to talk about?
5982 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: I do have a list of questions but I wanted to give you an opportunity to address anything at the outset if there is anything you would like to address. If not, I'm happy to pop into my questions.
5983 MR. STOBBE: Okay, well, one general statement and that is that I think it's been very instructive hearing all the various points of view and information that people have provided and very useful indeed.
5984 It will be very helpful in going forward with VRS as the system details are designed. I would suggest that based on what we've heard today, our recommendations are not changing, that the model that we suggested in all its various pieces is still the model that we recommend.
5985 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: That's great. Oh, sorry, go ahead.
5986 MR. STOBBE: I could probably address some other things but I think they'll probably come up in the context of your questions. So why don't you go ahead.
5987 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Great. Thank you.
5988 In Phase 10, Table 13 of the report it estimates the breakdown of an hour's VRS revenue and concludes that at 25 percent interpreter efficiency a $4.30 VRS reimbursement rate generates $64.50 in revenue per hour worked per interpreter. Where a fixed number of operator positions is funded would an hourly reimbursement rate payable to a VRS provider --
5989 THE SECRETARY: Sorry, Mr. Shoan, can you repeat the numbers? The interpreters did not understand. Thank you.
5990 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: The VRS reimbursement rate in the report was $4.30 and the revenue per hour worked per interpreter was $64.50.
5991 MR. STOBBE: Yes.
5992 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
5993 So where a fixed number of operator positions is funded, in your view would an hourly reimbursement rate payable to a VRS provider of $64.50 per operator position be reasonable and why or why not?
5994 MR. STOBBE: Yes. And that's the very interesting -- because as you know in our study, we analyze costs primarily as a result of applying usage, how many minutes might be forecast to a permanent rate.
5995 And for the purposes of estimating total program costs that was a good way to do it. That doesn't mean it's the best way to actually provide -- I mean the best way to pay the providers of the service. And we didn't actually recommend paying per minute.
5996 What we recommended was to start with grants and after that first phase or during that first phase then decide if the payment methodology should be based on per minute or should it be based on per hour of interpreter filling the seat.
5997 Personally, I like the latter approach better but I think it's something that should be based upon the information that is gained from the first phase.
5998 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. And I think that's a fair statement.
5999 You touched upon it a little earlier in your response with respect to, for example, minutes and we've heard different projections of what people project would be the hourly usage per minute of a VRS user. I believe your report estimated 37 minutes. We've heard 60 minutes. We've heard 109 minutes.
6000 nWise was here today and they provided some numbers from the European market which I think broke down to between approximately 25 minutes a month, a range between 15 and 45.
6001 So in terms of some of the new information we have on the record, are you maintaining your projection for your minutes? Do you feel it's gone up? Do you feel it's gone down?
6002 MR. STOBBE: No, we maintain it for a number of reasons.
6003 One is, for example, the TELUS trial which you know about 60 minutes per user was an average, from what we know of the trial, what we heard was that those numbers may be somewhat overinflated because there was such enthusiasm on the part of the community of users to demonstrate that VRS was something of great importance and great demand that we heard a number of times that how they were encouraged to make calls to illustrate demand.
6004 So other than demonstrating that the trial demonstrated that it was feasible -- VRS was feasible -- and that it actually operates.
6005 In terms of scientifically demonstrating the demand we don't think that was a valid test. So that the numbers that we used are based on the usage of VRS in the United States and understand that that is, of course, based on 24 hours of service and it's also based on a very mature service that's been in place for a long time. So the usage or the saturation ranked in the U.S. population is pretty much at its maximum for VRS.
6006 But the U.S. rate of usage has a number of considerations that we think should be cause for adjustment in applying that rate to Canada. So that's why we've adjusted it down for a number of things, 10 percent reduction due to potential U.S. fraud in ways that has not yet been identified and another 20 percent reduction due to the timing of when VRS is coming on the market versus in the U.S. and the very aggressive marketing, on average, that was performed and continues to be performed by U.S. firms because of the permanent very high dollar, permanent reimbursement scheme.
6007 So that's why we have a 30 percent reduction from the U.S. model. The U.S. average is 53 minutes per user. So going down 30 percent we end up with 37 minutes per user per month.
6008 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
6009 You just referred to the fraud or the perceived fraud occurring in the United States. A general question: How could a potential Canadian VRS solution prevent a similar situation and, as a second part of that question, do you have any information with respect to the approximate total cost of this fraud in the United States or any information you would like to get on the record?
6010 MR. STOBBE: I have no information. Yeah, I don't know what is in the FCC reports that I really feel at liberty to talk about.
6011 I think we have heard from various individuals about potential things going on that we wouldn't like to talk about unless they are substantiated. But we know that on the record the FCC has said most recently that even though they have -- the U.S. Justice department has put people in jail and they have fined VRS providers tens of millions of dollars, that they believe that it's just a small part of what is actually there.
6012 Now, the FCC refers to fraud as fraud and waste and misuse. So they kind of lump it together. So fraud is essentially very purposeful and waste and misuse is perhaps not quite.
6013 But we note that -- we noted in our report that one of the reasons that the U.S. reimbursement rate is so high is because that has been based on self-reporting of costs by the U.S. VRS providers and that those -- that self-reporting and forecast of costs has generally -- has historically always been significantly higher than what the actual costs were on subsequent years. Yet, there's no -- the FCC does not have a true-up mechanism to adjust those rates based upon actuals.
6014 In addition, they find as they noted in their own reports, they find it almost impossible to audit or determine what actual costs are. So they are really at the mercy of the providers to determine their own costs.
6015 Also, in the mechanism that they have, you know, it's a weighted average of everyone's costs. But when you have one provider that adds about 84 percent of the business or 84 percent of the minutes, then that's really going to be the dominant provider that is influencing the overall reimbursement rate in the United States, more than anybody else.
6016 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you. We heard of a few new models this week and I wanted to give you an opportunity to address each new model in turn. Some of them differed slightly from the model proposed in the Mission Consulting Report. Some of them are entirely new models.
6017 So I'll briefly describe each one in turn and I'll give you an opportunity to address them in terms of what you anticipate their efficacy would be in terms of implementing VRS.
6018 So first there was the Bell model and Bell proposed a three-stage -- pardon me -- a three-stage process beginning with the direction from the CRTC for TSPs to work with groups representing the deaf and hard of hearing community to set up a VRS administrator and issue an RFP. I believe they also suggested a board that was somewhat smaller than that which was proposed in the Mission Consulting Report.
6019 Do you have any perspectives to offer on that model?
6020 MR. STOBBE: Yes, it seems to me, that that Bell model is exactly the same as the one that we proposed.
6021 We just did not clearly break out the things that are necessary in terms of identifying it as a phase, you know, setting up the administrator and getting a board of directors and all that and getting -- going out and obtaining a platform for use before you can actually provide VRS. We kind of wrapped all that into the first phase, but essentially there is no difference.
6022 The distinction in terms of the number of people on the board is not significant in our mind at all. We do like the idea that the board is composed of representatives of the deaf community and that those -- and we like the fact that they'll continue to support the idea that that group make up the majority -- well, not the majority but that they have more people represented on the board than any other group including the TSPs.
6023 And the idea that the TSPs would have essentially veto power over budget by a majority of the vote of the TSPs, we think also is an excellent example. It really provides a balance to the whole process.
6024 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: That's very helpful. Thank you.
6025 Secondly, there was the TELUS model. In this model VRS would be funded through a national fund, managed by an independent entity. TSPs including wireline, wireless and ISPs would contribute to this fund, based on a set percentage of their revenues.
6026 The CRTC would direct a CISC committee or a CISC-like committee with representation of all stakeholders to setup a consortium dedicated to VRS funding and administration. This committee would also design the RFP for a three-year implementation period based on service parameters set out by the CRTC. The consortium would then undertake an RFP process and select the VRS provider for the first three years.
6027 Do you have a view on that approach?
6028 MR. STOBBE: Yes. Although I admit I'm not -- well, I'm not familiar with that approach. But does their approach mean that the group that would administer VRS would be made up of the TSPs without deaf representatives being voting members?
6029 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: I'm just consulting with the legal team. Just give me a moment.
6030 No, it does not. There would be representation.
6031 MR. STOBBE: Well, good. I think that's very important that the deaf groups are represented not simply in an advisory capacity but in an actual voting and decision capacity.
6032 So I frankly don't understand the difference between that form of administration versus the third party administrator, although he went on to say that one of the things that they would do is they would put out an RFP for one provider. Am I right in that respect?
6033 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Well, for the initial three-year plan there would be one provider. That's my understanding.
6034 MR. STOBBE: Okay. That would not be something that Mission Consulting would recommend.
6035 We would continue to recommend that the initial phase have the multifaceted components of stimulating interpreter development, developing appropriate standards for quality and also scientifically measuring demand and various things that the research part would provide as well as providing VRS service as well.
6036 So we would continue to suggest that providing grants to multiple universities and agencies is the best approach.
6037 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you very much.
6038 The last model is a hybrid model. Under this model obligations would be placed on local exchange carriers, LECs, by either tariff or a section 24 condition under the Telecoms Act and subsidization of the service would occur through a centralized fund established under section 46.5 of the Telecommunications Act.
6039 In this model TSPs would be required to contribute to the National Contribution Fund to pay for VRS. However, LECs would be responsible for provision of the service and would be required to file a tariff with the terms and conditions upon which it would be provided.
6040 The fund administrator would provide each LEC with an amount set by the Commission to subsidize the cost of providing this service.
6041 Can you comment on that?
6042 MR. STOBBE: Yes, I think that would be very unfortunate. All of the TSPs have said that they don't have any expertise in providing this service and we believe that to provide the service without having deaf groups involved in a meaningful way is simply a recipe for disaster.
6043 Also, you know, the LECs -- some LECs may see this as a socially important goal and they might do whatever they can to provide good service, but others may be more interested in minimizing the impact on their bottom line to most of the ratepayers. There could be very large differences in quality of service based upon how well the LECs are actually supporting the VRS and whether or not, you know, they are funding at a level that's appropriate to a contractor.
6044 For example, VRS is something that -- I know there's been a lot of talk about how much is this going to cost and what might be a reasonable rate and it is possible to get the rate down fairly low.
6045 The problem is that when you do that, at some point you're forcing the providers to hire people that don't have the skills and they're providing the service but they just really don't have the skills.
6046 So if the model is essentially a TSP-provided model we are fearful that this service would be subject to a great deal of pressure to be a low-cost bid.
6047 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. To be clear, under that model, the TSPs would be the ones potentially selecting the providers in terms of contracting out to a third party. So there could be multiple VRS providers who would have the requisite expertise presumably to implement the service. I don't know if that changes your opinion. I just wanted to clarify for the record.
6048 MR. STOBBE: Thank you. No, it doesn't change it other than if TSPs are putting forth RFPs for this kind of a service on their own, they probably are going to miss a lot of the quality factors that need to be built into any of its contracts.
6049 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
6050 In comparing a proprietary system that supports fewer end user devices versus an open system that supports many end user devices, can you describe the pros and cons for each scenario in terms of the resulting quality of service, potential overall consumer experience and the effect on technical support solutions?
6051 MR. STOBBE: Yes. This is a good question. I think that whoever the platform provider is, it's very important that they essentially certify in some way what are the types of end user devices that are compatible and recommended with their platform, and as you heard from nWise and I'm sure you'll hear from IVèS tomorrow and you also heard from Sorenson, they try and have their platform be compatible with as many devices as they can. When a user is trying to connect with something that may not be fully compatible but still establishes some kind of a connection, certainly the user experience could be not quite as good as it should be.
6052 I think the idea of having an open platform instead of a proprietary one is very beneficial to the users and especially to the CRTC in the management of the system going forward and not being locked into a proprietary solution. There's a whole range of issues associated with that.
6053 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
6054 I've been asking appearing parties throughout the week about the potential platform that could be used and I wanted to get your view about whether a Canadian VRS offering should use a common platform or whether there should be multiple platforms with required interoperability and what the pros and cons of each approach would be, in your view.
6055 MR. STOBBE: Yes, we do have a strong opinion on that based upon the U.S. experience and we like the model that all other countries have adopted, which is a single platform, and that platform can be changed out from time to time, but if you select a platform provider that is also competitive in other countries, you know that they are continuously competing to upgrade their service.
6056 Even if you're only bidding once every five years or seven years, that platform, they are bidding, you know, every few years as some other country is putting out a bid. So they're constantly trying to match new offerings that end user manufacturers might be offering and upgrading the type of service that they're offering. So it should stay current with technology.
6057 I think that if you -- so an open standard is, I think, extremely important.
6058 If you lock into a provider platform that is proprietary and the devices may not communicate with devices of other providers or that are expected to be available with other providers in the future, you've got real headaches going forward in making your VRS truly available competitively in the future.
6059 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: That's very helpful, thank you.
6060 I'd like to go back for a minute to the permanent rate of $4.30 that was discussed in the Mission Consulting report. Can you explain how the rate would be sufficient to cover all the costs for providing a complete VRS, including those not causal to demand?
6061 MR. STOBBE: Sure.
6062 Two things I want to say.
6063 One is that the $4.30 is a cost estimate for a rate, but again, we don't know what the actual reimbursement methodology might be.
6064 And second of all, after the research phase, when it goes to what we're calling full deployment, it's really -- it's the same deployment without the research, but we expect that instead of grants, that that is probably going to be established competitively.
6065 So the $4.30 rate that we use is an estimate and for projection purposes, but the actual rate hopefully will be determined through competition, and it could be a little higher, it could be lower, but it should be a rate that because of -- via competition it will of course accommodate all the costs that are necessary.
6066 But in putting together the estimate of $4.30 we did identify overhead and profit and interpreter costs, a whole variety of different kinds of costs that we think should all be covered.
6067 Now, we also made the statement that because we would like to encourage small providers who are close to the interpreting community to be able to offer VRS that they be not unduly burdened with excessive platform costs, and therefore, we recommended that the third-party administrator be the party that holds that licence and make it available to the various VRS entities.
6068 But when you look at the overall costs, we know from the United States that the costs that are being projected for the FCC as reasonable -- of course those costs are being challenged by Sorenson and others, which is not at all unexpected -- but the U.S. rates include everything that the provider has to support, including network access and network time, their platform training of interpreters, a whole variety of things.
6069 So taking all those into consideration, yes, we do think that the $4.30 is a good valid number.
6070 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you. That was actually an excellent response because it touched upon a couple of areas I wanted to follow up on.
6071 You began there briefly decoupling the components of the $4.30. So I wanted to ask you what percentage, if any, of the proposed rate is associated with research, training, outreach or technical support.
6072 And I recognize you may not have the information on hand, you can provide it a later date, but if you can break the rate down a bit more in terms of its components, that would be helpful.
6073 MR. STOBBE: It does not include outreach and marketing and public education. In our report we had recommended that that actually be provided by a number of different entities based upon their clientele and their expertise.
6074 So, for example, outreach to the deaf community by advocacy groups is very natural. Outreach by the service providers is also natural. I mean there's just a variety of ways that we recommend that the costs and the effort involved in that be shared.
6075 And the percentage of outreach that is included within the U.S. rates is very small.
6076 There were some other components you asked about but it slipped my mind what they were.
6077 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Oh, sorry. I'll just go back to my question.
6078 You said that there was no outreach, which is fine. Technical support, training and research.
6079 MR. STOBBE: Okay, yes.
6080 So in the long term we're assuming that the primary research would be done in the first phase, and ongoing research in terms of development of the VRS platform and that kind of research would be the responsibility of the platform provider as they continue to try and make their products the best products possible as they compete in the world.
6081 In terms of other research costs, you know, we really anticipated that would be done in the first phase, as I mentioned. So the first phase, we think, would develop a number of good information for decisions that are made later on, including the best method of -- what level of technical support is actually required for the consumer.
6082 In the U.S. you have different models. Sorenson has been very successful in their model, which is basically to provide a technician that goes into the individual's homes to set up their system and, you know, to explain how it works. But most of the other providers in the U.S. don't take that approach, it's just not -- they believe it's not necessary.
6083 Now, when Sorenson first began doing this in the U.S., they were installing -- for many years they were doing it, they were installing proprietary equipment that would not work on any other providers' service and so it became extremely difficult for individuals at that time to use those services to switch to any other providers. So it was a great way to kind of lock in a customer. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a matter of philosophy, what you think is the best approach, but it was very effective.
6084 Now, in today's technological environment many of the services -- many of the devices support more of a plug-and-play environment where you can download an app for example. And all of the services are software-based, so whether it's on a particular phone or on someone's computer, I think it's getting increasingly easier to self-install and self-support.
6085 But that is an opinion. It's certainly not Sorenson's opinion, it's certainly more of an opinion of other providers. But what's the actual -- how much end-user and technical support is going to really be needed, that is a perfect -- a perfect topic for the first phase for the research and I can think that it could be done scientifically and without bias by universities with the support of their IT departments and other groups.
6086 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. I'm sorry, go ahead.
6087 MR. STOBBE: I apologize for being so long-winded.
6088 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: No, it's fine. It's an 850 page report, it takes time.
6089 But speaking of Sorenson, they commented this morning that in the event that a system was developed and there was an RFP put out for example, or a solicitation for VRS service providers and the proposed reimbursement rate was $3.50, they would not be applying.
6090 So my question is: How likely is it that organizations will be willing to offer a complete VRS solution to Canadians at $4.30 per minute. Is that a sufficient incentive and do you know of any organizations that would be willing to offer a complete solution at that rate?
6091 MR. STOBBE: Yes. Well, two things.
6092 One is, it would be very difficult at this point for any U.S. provider to justify a $4.30 rate when they are challenging the FCC and saying, well, they can't do it for less than, you know, $5-something and something and the U.S. rate is based on cost. So if a U.S. provider accepts a rate that's significantly lower than the U.S. rate, then they have just demonstrated to the U.S. that, hey, guess what, we can actually do it for less and that means that all the U.S. rates will come down -- or could come down. So they could be jeopardizing their whole U.S. business --which, you know, potentially is an awful lot of money for these providers that are dominant -- by accepting a smaller number of users at a lower rate. So that's one thing.
6093 Now, the other question was do you think that the $4.30 rate is actually reasonable? Do we know of anybody who suggests that they could actually do it for that rate?
6094 And yes, I think the answer has already been provided to the Commissioned by UQAM. In their comments that they filed they they broke out how much service they could provide for the grant amounts and that was -- the grant amounts that we estimated were based on a combination of dollars for research, dollars for interpreting, dollars for, you know, different things, but when you look at the VRS component actually providing the VRS service as a part of that, we note that the UQAM's proposal essentially says yes they can do it at that rate. In fact, we were surprised they even came in less than we had proposed.
6095 And they are doing that and not on their own, but through a partnership with an interpreter agency who has experience with how much it costs to provide interpreters, quality interpreters and staffing levels and overhead and all those things, so they have taken all that into account. The only thing that it did not take into account was the cost of the platform and network, but we think those are small pieces.
6096 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
6097 So on the topic of research and grants, I was hoping you could flesh that out a bit further for the record.
6098 What do you suggest would be the approximate size of these grants during the research phase and why do you expect the interpreter training programs, the six interpreter training programs which were discussed earlier this week, would be interested in such a venture, and how could this component of the grants, in terms of the expansion of the interpreter training programs, be linked to VRS? In other words, couldn't the graduates do other interpreting work outside of VRS upon graduation?
6099 MR. STOBBE: Hold on a minute.
6100 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: I sort of crammed three questions into there.
6101 MR. STOBBE: You did.
6102 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Do you want me to just -- let me break it out a little.
6103 Let's go back to the first one.
6104 MR. STOBBE: Yes.
6105 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: What would you suggest be the approximate size of the grants?
6106 MR. STOBBE: Okay. So on page 57 of the report we have that broken down, but essentially the first year we are suggesting an average of about 900,000, second year about 1 million and then subsequent years that grants might be issued would be for about 1.2 million per grant.
6107 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. And in terms of the six interpreter training programs currently in place in Canada --
6108 MR. STOBBE: Yes.
6109 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: -- why do you think they would be interested in such a venture? Did you canvas their input during the report? You feel they would get on board quickly?
6110 MR. STOBBE: That's a really great question. I have to admit that this idea that we came up with of how do we solve the problem of not enough interpreters? Because we don't want to have VRS just essentially decimate community interpreting, what can we do to provide VRS quickly, but at the same time to build up the interpreter pool? You know, that's how we came up with this idea.
6111 What was your question again?
6112 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: But do you know whether the interpreter training are actually interested in participating?
6113 MR. STOBBE: Right, right.
6114 So yes, we talked -- because this idea was at the last minute in our study, at the very end, we reached out, but we only got confirmation from two of the six programs --
6115 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
6116 MR. STOBBE: -- about UQAM and George Brown that were very interested. We don't see any reason why any others wouldn't be interested.
6117 And we would strongly recommend that any of these training programs that feel uncomfortable with actually having a VRS components, that they partner with an community interpreting program that is used to, you know, having a business that does this.
6118 Because although the platforms, the technology of the platform can be complex, the actual setting up the workstations and having interpreters work in that environment, it's not that difficult. Certainly there is additional training that has to occur because of the differences in linguistics and in the two-dimensional versus three-dimensional environment represented by VRS, but we think it's very, very doable and if they want to encourage partnerships, that would be great.
6119 Our suggestion is also that this first phase where grants are being provided, if all of the interpreting training programs do not respond, that then the third-party administrator should continue to provide grants and move those grants out to -- directly to other organizations that have experience with interpreting, in other words the other potential community interpreting programs, some of which have already indicated an interest in being VRS providers.
6120 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. The report has suggested the grants include a component which includes the expansion of interpreter training programs, so the question is: How could this component of the grant be linked to VRS? In other words, is there a way we could avoid graduates doing other interpreting work outside of VRS upon graduation? Is there any way of linking the grants to an actual contribution to a VRS service?
6121 MR. STOBBE: I think so. You know, I think the way to do the grants is you develop an RFP that identifies everything that the program is interested in and what they are hoping will be to develop and provided through the grant process and then asking the respondents to tell you what can they do, how they are going to go about it. Certainly you are asking: Well, what incentives can you provide that might help assure that graduates would continue to work in VRS? That's something that we would hope that they would respond to creatively.
6122 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. This is a bit of a legal question, if you don't have a prepared reply it's absolutely fine, but I thought I would ask it for the record.
6123 As per section 46.5(1) of the Telecoms Act --
6124 MR. STOBBE: You see, you got me right there.
6125 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Yes, right there I got you.
6126 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: So the Commission can require, may require any telecommunications service provider to contribute to a fund to support continuing access by Canadians to basic telecommunications services.
6127 How does awarding grants to universities and colleges fit that criteria?
6128 MR. STOBBE: I have no idea.
6129 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, that's fine. No problem, that's fine.
6130 MR. STOBBE: That doesn't mean it doesn't fit.
6131 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: We just have to be creative, gotcha.
6132 Just to follow up on a previous response you gave, I asked you about whether you knew of any potential providers who would come forward at a rate of $4.30. You gave the example of UQAM and SIVET for the French language markets. Are you aware of one for the English-language market?
6133 MR. STOBBE: Not at this time, no.
6134 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. I noted in your report that you had listed -- just to go back a minute, you had mentioned earlier as well that it would be the fund administrator or the third-party administrator that would actually own the platform or license the platform to someone else, and I believe that the amount of funding you had allocated to that potential acquisition or development was fairly substantial in the report.
6135 Can you explain how you came to that figure? I think it was --
6136 MR. STOBBE: Yes. We had discussions.
6137 In our understanding there are three manufacturers of VRS platforms that offer their platforms competitively, nWise that you heard this morning and IVES that you will hear tomorrow. There is also another one in England, I don't recall their name, they have a platform that is not used except in a commercial application I believe and it's only within England. So the two real players seem to be IVES and nWise.
6138 For our study we did talk to both of them to learn how their platforms work and what their characteristics were and to also talk about costs. Of course, you know, they didn't want to give us a proposal because they know it has to be bid at some time -- or they are hoping it is, but they gave us enough information that we felt fairly comfortable in coming up with a ballpark figure that we could just put in for budget purposes, so that's what we did.
6139 I would also say that both of them indicated that they were very flexible in accommodating whatever type of financial and ownership arrangement that Canada wanted to support, whether it was ownership, whether it was licensing, whether it was payment based on numbers of users or payment based on numbers of minutes for example, I think they were both open to anything that sounded reasonable. So those are decisions that, you know, should be made by a third-party administrator when they get into looking more closely into what the platform offerings are.
6140 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, great.
6141 I have one final question, it has several components -- I'm sure my fellow Commissioners have other questions as well -- it involves the description of the third-party agency or administrator that you described in the Mission Consulting Report.
6142 It's a general question about accountability in terms of who this organization would be accountable to, how its independence can be assured, what the CRTC's role would be vis-à-vis this organization, and further to the accountability aspect what sort of reporting and monitoring you think would be necessary.
6143 So could you give your perspective on that?
6144 MR. STOBBE: Yes.
6145 First of all, we believe that the third-party administrator, if at all possible, should be functioning with complete transparency so that all of its decisions, its costs and all that are known to the public. The reports on VRS performance and on the quality of service, all that should be constantly made public, unlike in the U.S. where everything is pretty wrapped up and, you know, nobody knows really what's -- all we know is what people are being paid, but there is no public information on how long are the wait times and what is the skill level of the interpreters, a whole variety of things that go into defining what is quality service or what is the basic service. So we would like, you know, all that to be as transparent as possible.
6146 We think that in terms of accountability, they certainly have that accountability to the public, but they also have an accountability to the CRTC.
6147 When we came up with this idea, we were not aware that there were similar models already existing in Canada for other purposes, we were informed that after we explained our idea. So our assumption was, well, it seems like the CRTC should be -- once the third-party administrator works out what are the basic requirements for VRS, what are the minimum standards, those should probably be codified and approved by the CRTC.
6148 The annual budget, or some budget being processed and spending process should probably be approved by the CRTC. You know, you don't want to give a group like this a blank cheque, but -- and also, you know, as I mentioned before, having the TSPs involved in approving costs kind of puts a check and balance onto that.
6149 So we note that in the U.S. when you have services that are provided by one provider, whether it's a service at the federal level or at a state level, it's often very difficult to get the reporting that you want, and by maintaining the platform of ownership or control at the third-party level you get all the reporting right there, you are not dependent upon the provider to tell you what their call answering time was or how many calls they receive, because you are actually giving them the calls and you are watching their take-up rates and their waiting rates and that kind of thing.
6150 So it really makes it much easier also on the part of the small providers, they can concentrate on what they do best and not be overly burdened administratively.
6151 We also note that in the U.S. with multiple providers, we have experienced this at the State level, even if you define the types of reports that you want from the different providers, you get all kinds of apples and oranges in terms of the reports that you receive and how they define a session minute versus a conversation minute and those kinds of things. So having a central control really helps administer the program much more simply.
6152 Now, we saw this idea of the third-party administrator based in California, but we have been associated with California's Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, which is responsible from the State level for relay service.
6153 We have been involved since 1987. We have written all of their RFPs for every type of service that they have offered, including RFPs for VRS, but they happen to have been supplemented at the last minute by the FCC saying we would pay for it. But, you know, we have done this working within a third-party administrator that is composed of a board that is made up of representatives of the deaf organizations.
6154 We know how the make-up of that board changed over the years. As it first began it was just the TSPs and then deaf advocacy groups came in and then eventually only the TSPs -- oh, and the VRS -- or the TRS from MRS providers were also part of that board, and eventually the providers came off the board because there was so much conflict of interest in the decisions that were made and in the discussions that were held at the board, essentially they took those out and it improved dramatically.
6155 But we saw this model in operation over many, many years and it's a good model. In fact, one of the past Chairman of the FCC, William Kennard, came out to California and visited this organization and said, frankly, that this should be the model for the nation.
6156 So we are convinced it's a good model, it's workable, we have seen it, and to understand that the CRTC has authorized similar models in Canada is very positive. We weren't sure if you had a structure that supported it, but to learn that you do is great.
6157 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. And just to close the loop on that thought in terms of annual reporting or periodic reviews of this organization's mandate, do you have a view on that?
6158 MR STOBBE: Yes, you should do it.
6159 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
6160 MR. STOBBE: The reports should be public. You know, they should have a website where their reports are available all the time, but in addition to that, you know, as a Commission you should be hearing from the consumers on what they think and from the providers and the TSPs, you know, at some regular check-in point, I don't know if that's annually or every couple of years or what.
6161 And you should also be aware of the level of complaints that are issued that -- there should be a whole reporting process that the Commission staff should be involved in.
6162 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Terrific. Thank you for your time.
6163 MR. STOBBE: You're welcome.
6164 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just have one quick question and a quick answer would be great, too.
6165 If this Commission were -- "if" this Commission were to approve a VRS and it wanted to cap the amount of money to be spent on it, what should that cap be?
6166 MR. STOBBE: You see, you ask a simple question...
6167 THE CHAIRPERSON: At the end of the day it might be a simple question, but just your best guess. You don't have to live with it.
6168 MR. STOBBE: Thank you.
6169 Well, you know, as we noted in our report, we were asked to identify how much it would cost --
6170 THE CHAIRPERSON: I just need a number.
6171 MR. STOBBE: You just need a number.
6172 It's going to be naturally capped by the availability of interpreters for a long time, so at what point should the cap be if it's offered 24 hours in unlimited service, you know, to meet whatever demand? In that regard we think that our projection is a fairly accurate projection, $32 million. You know, time will tell. I think that you should adjust the cap for the conditions that exist.
6173 THE CHAIRPERSON: Super. Thank you very much, we really appreciated your contribution and your time today.
6174 MR. STOBBE: You're welcome.
6175 THE CHAIRPERSON: We will adjourn for the day.
6176 Enjoy the evening and we will see many of you I assume at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning when we resume.
6177 Good night.
--- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 1738, to resume on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 0900
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