ARCHIVED - Transcript, Hearing 25 October 2013
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Volume 5, 25 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
25 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
IVèS1065 / 6183
Canadian Association of the Deaf1131 / 6667
Sonny Access Consulting1176 / 6901
Joe McLaughlin, Ed.D. 1199 / 7030
Wayne Sinclair1213 / 7097
Ava Hawkins1230 / 7192
Chris Kenopic1242 / 7282
- v -
PAGE / PARA
Undertaking1131 / 6657
Undertaking1168 / 6839
--- Upon resuming on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 0900
6178 THE CHAIRPERSON: Good morning, everyone.
6179 Madam Secretary.
6180 LA SECRÉTAIRE : Merci.
6181 Nous débuterons maintenant ce matin avec la présentation d'IVèS.
6182 S'il vous plaît vous présenter et vous avez 20 minutes. Merci.
6183 M. CHABANOL : Bonjour. Je me présente, Didier Chabanol, co-fondateur et directeur général de la société IVèS. IVèS signifie interactivité vidéo et systèmes.
6184 Tout d'abord, je voulais vous remercie de m'avoir autorisé à comparaître aujourd'hui devant vous.
6185 Je vais commencer ma présentation en représentant en fait trois structures qui ont été amenées à contribuer à l'avis de consultation ces derniers mois.
6186 Ces trois structures sont, pour la première, Websourd, qui est une entreprise sociale coopérative qui a été créée en 2001 en France, qui compte aujourd'hui 37 salariés, qui est située à Toulouse dans le sud-ouest de la France. Cette coopérative, qui a été créée initialement par les sourds en France, a pour vocation de développer des services innovants et utiles pour les personnes sourdes et malentendantes en France.
6187 Nous sommes donc le partenaire technique depuis 2006 de cette structure, et nous avons mis en place en France un centre relais qui est aujourd'hui, pour partie, commercialisé et, pour partie, expérimental. Donc, il est commercialisé pour les sourds en entreprise, et il est encore en mode expérimental pour les particuliers, donc, les sourds qui souhaitent passer des coups de fil à partir de chez eux.
6188 Cette structure Websourd collabore avec une seconde coopérative qui se nomme Trait d'union, qui est elle aussi une entreprise coopérative qui rassemble des agences d'interprètes sur tout le territoire français.
6189 Donc, Websourd s'occupe d'opérer le service, Trait d'union apporte des interprètes sur la plateforme, et IVèS fournit la partie technologique.
6190 Donc, Trait d'union compte aujourd'hui 120 membres qui sont répartis dans toute la France au sein d'une quinzaine d'agences d'interprètes indépendantes.
6191 IVèS compte 14 employés. Nous sommes situés en France et nous avons un bureau à Montréal pour piloter des activités que nous avons aux États-Unis puisque nous avons été amenés au cours des dernières années à travailler pour des centres relais États-Uniens. Je reviendrai probablement là-dessus tout à l'heure.
6192 Les valeurs que nous défendons et que nous avons pu mettre en place grâce à ce consortium en France sont des valeurs de coopération entre les différents acteurs qui participent à la mise en place du centre relais. Ces acteurs sont, bien évidemment, les usagers sourds et malentendants, les interprètes, mais aussi les différents fournisseurs de technologie qui vont permettre d'interconnecter tous ces usagers.
6193 La politique que nous avons mise en place en France, en tout cas au sein de ce consortium, est assez innovante. L'idée, c'était... Étant donné qu'on intègre tous les acteurs dans cette coopérative, l'idée, c'était d'apporter le meilleur service possible aux personnes sourdes tout en respectant le métier d'interprète et en n'étant pas en concurrence avec des organisations d'interprètes qui sont déjà en place depuis quelques années et pour certaines qui ont du mal à subsister dans des petites villes françaises parce qu'ils n'ont pas assez d'activités. Donc, l'idée, c'était de réunir tous ces acteurs et de tirer le meilleur pour rendre le service aux personnes sourdes.
6194 Donc, nous nous sommes dirigés sur une organisation décentralisée des centres d'appel. C'est-à-dire que Websourd, via la structure Trait d'union, passe des commandes d'interprétation à des agences indépendantes.
6195 Ces agences indépendantes s'engagent à passer au maximum 30 pour cent de leur temps d'interprétation sur la plateforme, ce qui permet aux interprètes dans toute la France d'avoir un complément de revenu par rapport à leurs activités habituelles, donc, de 30 pour cent, de pouvoir continuer à faire leur métier tel qu'ils le conçoivent, c'est-à-dire à faire de l'interprétation en présentiel et de ne passer que 30 pour cent de leur temps derrière un écran, enfermés dans une pièce, à traiter des appels à distance.
6196 Donc, notre organisation intègre aussi le facteur formation, qui est très important puisque, en France, il n'y a pas assez d'interprètes pour répondre à la demande. Donc, il y a des partenariats qui ont été passés avec des universités pour mettre en place des cursus universitaires et former des interprètes, qui ensuite font de l'interprétation en présentiel et aussi interviennent à 30 pour cent de leur temps sur la plateforme de service.
6197 La structure Websourd, comme je l'ai dit tout à l'heure, est une structure coopérative à but social. Chaque acteur est aussi actionnaire de cette structure, ce qui permet aux usagers sourds, aux interprètes et aux fournisseurs techniques tels qu'IVèS d'influer sur les décisions sur la stratégie et d'avoir accès en toute transparence aux données chiffrées tout simplement, donc, comment on investit l'argent, comment il est dépensé.
6198 Nous avons donc, au sein de ce consortium, mis en place une technologie basée sur des standards internationaux qui s'appelle la Conversation totale. Cette plateforme, on a souhaité la rendre la plus interopérable possible, c'est-à-dire pouvoir proposer aux usagers sourds le plus de terminaux possibles d'accès au service, tels que des visiophones, tels que des tablettes, tels que des téléphones mobiles, tels que même des technologies tierces telles que Skype ou plus tard peut-être WebRTC, et une plateforme capable de s'interconnecter vers d'autres opérateurs, parce que, en France et en Europe, il y a d'autres opérateurs de centres relais. En France, il y en a trois. Donc, on a cherché à développer une plateforme la plus ouverte possible.
6199 Alors, on a pu, lors de l'Avis de consultation, décrire un petit peu cette plateforme.
6200 Je pense qu'il est important de comprendre que cette plateforme est en fait composée de trois sous-systèmes.
6201 Un premier sous-système qui fournit les fonctions essentielles du service. Par « fonctions essentielles », j'entends les fonctions de base; c'est-à-dire un usager sourd doit avoir un numéro de téléphone, un interprète doit être capable d'appeler sur le réseau téléphonique et de recevoir des appels du réseau téléphonique, et il est nécessaire de mettre à disposition un annuaire pour les opérateurs concurrents pour qu'ils sachent comment interconnecter différents opérateurs qui ont chacun leurs usagers. C'est le premier sous-système.
6202 Ensuite, il y a un deuxième sous-système que l'on appelle les services à valeur ajoutée. Donc, ce sont l'ensemble des fonctionnalités qu'on va rendre aux personnes sourdes, tel que la messagerie vidéo, par exemple. Quand un usager n'est pas disponible, un interprète a la possibilité de lui laisser un message vidéo. On a développé des postes d'interprète qui peuvent très facilement se déployer en France et dans différents pays simplement parce qu'on a opté pour une infrastructure décentralisée. Sous ce sous-système, on a aussi le centre d'appel qui va gérer les files d'attentes et une politique de routage d'appel qui va dépendre de l'organisation mise en place par Websourd et des différentes agences d'interprètes qui vont souhaiter se connecter.
6203 Donc, deux sous-systèmes, et le troisième sous-système se compose des terminaux d'accès au service. Donc, les usagers sourds, on peut leur mettre en place soit des visiophones, soit des tablettes mobiles ou alors, ils peuvent aussi décider de choisir eux-mêmes chez un autre fournisseur leur propre terminal d'accès.
6204 Voilà! Donc, trois différents sous-systèmes dans cette plateforme.
6205 J'ai souhaité ensuite faire un petit comparatif là au niveau plus européen pour vous faire un retour d'expérience de ce que l'on peut rencontrer au niveau européen, parce que la société IVèS donc est très active en France dans le cadre de ce consortium, mais nous répondons aussi à des appels d'offre et nous avons des partenaires dans différents pays d'Europe.
6206 Les deux principaux dont je voulais vous parler aujourd'hui sont la Suède et la Hollande, qui ont décidé de mettre en place un modèle basé sur un seul opérateur national, c'est-à-dire un monopole.
6207 Donc, il y eu en Suède, par exemple, un appel d'offre, il y a deux ans. Il y a deux consortiums qui ont répondu, un consortium qui était constitué d'une région qui s'appelle la région d'Orebro, et un deuxième consortium d'entreprises indépendantes dont nous faisions partie. Ce contrat visait à renouveler la prestation de service en Suède.
6208 Donc, nous avons perdu cet appel d'offre, malheureusement, parce que c'est très compliqué de concurrencer une région quand on est des entreprises indépendantes. C'est même quasiment impossible. C'est donc ce qui est arrivé. Le jour où nous devions signer le...
6209 Nous avons gagné en fait l'appel d'offre dans un second temps parce que nos prix étaient légèrement inférieurs. Le choix se faisait sur le prix à la minute. Et le jour de la signature des contrats, les interprètes qui étaient dans notre consortium ont finalement préféré décliner la participation, et on n'a pas été capable de rendre le service. Voilà! Ça, c'était une première expérience à l'étranger.
6210 Et très récemment, nous avons répondu à un appel d'offre en Hollande, qui a aussi opté pour ce même modèle basé sur un monopole. Donc, nous avons perdu cet appel d'offre.
6211 En face de nous, il y avait un consortium qui était proposé par KPN, qui est l'opérateur historique hollandais, et nous, nous étions encore une fois un consortium d'entreprises indépendantes.
6212 Et le choix s'est porté sur évidemment le fournisseur le moins cher, qui a été KPN, qui a été capable de proposer donc une prestation avec un budget fixe de 750,000 euros par an, plus 50 centimes la minute sur les minutes supplémentaires au-delà d'un certain volume.
6213 Donc, nous, nous étions plutôt autour de 2.50 euros. À 50 centimes, pour un consortium d'entreprises indépendantes, c'est impossible de s'aligner sur 50 centimes.
6214 Voilà! Donc, j'ai essayé de faire un petit comparatif par rapport à ces deux modèles, donc, le modèle monopole qu'on retrouve en Suède, en Hollande et puis dans quelques autres pays et le modèle basé sur la concurrence qu'on retrouve aujourd'hui, par exemple, en France et puis aux États-Unis. Aux États-Unis, le modèle concurrentiel a été vraiment poussé très, très loin.
6215 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce que je peux vous demander, je suis vraiment désolé...
6216 M. CHABANOL : Oui, oui.
6217 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...de parler un petit peu plus fort? J'ai le système de ventilo ici, puis...
6218 M. CHABANOL : Excusez-moi.
6219 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...j'ai beaucoup de difficulté à vous suivre.
6220 M. CHABANOL : Voilà!
6221 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci.
6222 M. CHABANOL : Je vais essayer de parler plus fort.
6223 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci.
6224 M. CHABANOL : Donc, ce que nous pensons, c'est que le système basé sur le monopole est évidemment plus simple à mettre en place puisqu'il n'y a qu'un seul fournisseur.
6225 Par contre, il apporte certaines difficultés, notamment, par exemple -- et je prends le cas de la Hollande -- le fait de scinder la fourniture de terminaux et la fourniture de la plateforme est très compliqué à mettre en place.
6226 En Hollande, théoriquement, aujourd'hui, alors que je vous parle, il y a un centre relais qui a été lancé le 1er novembre qui est une plateforme nationale indépendante et qui doit permettre à des fournisseurs de terminaux d'offrir le choix aux usagers sourds d'utiliser une tablette, un mobile, un visiophone, et puis des services à valeur ajoutée telles que des messageries vidéos, et cætera, et cætera.
6227 Dans les faits, ce qui se passe, c'est que l'opérateur national fournit la plateforme et fournit aussi des terminaux. Donc, quand nous, par exemple, on a demandé à connecter nos terminaux sur la plateforme, je dirais qu'il y a eu une certaine inertie, et on a eu peu de support pour nous connecter.
6228 À l'heure d'aujourd'hui, nous ne sommes toujours pas connectés en Hollande. Les usagers sourds ont dû se plaindre au niveau du régulateur. Il y a un député hollandais qui a dû poser la question à l'assemblée nationale, et la situation est en train de se débloquer, malheureusement, avec beaucoup de tension alors que ça devrait être théoriquement assez simple puisque cette plateforme doit permettre l'interconnexion.
6229 Donc, je dirais que le risque dans les monopoles, c'est d'avoir des antagonismes entre un fournisseur qui est là pour tout faire mais qui, quand même, doit ouvrir un peu la concurrence théoriquement. C'est le premier problème.
6230 Le deuxième problème, c'est que, en Hollande, le fournisseur paye aussi pour le service puisque KPN, qui fournit le service de centre relais, paye aussi en fin d'année entre 30 et 40 pour cent du coût des interprètes et du fonctionnement de la plateforme, et donc, tout ça, c'est... Alors, je ne dirais pas qu'il y a des conflits d'intérêt, mais en tout cas, il y a des antagonismes qui font qu'on arrive à des situations de blocage et à des situations pas très claires. Voilà!
6231 Si on le compare à un modèle basé sur la concurrence, bon, la concurrence, ça permet de fournir du choix aux utilisateurs, ça permet de pousser l'innovation de par la concurrence entre les différents fournisseurs, d'augmenter probablement la qualité de l'interprétation parce que les opérateurs... les fournisseurs de service, devrais-je dire, vont chercher à fournir la meilleure interprétation possible aux usagers, et ça permet aussi d'ouvrir... de laisser la possibilité de mettre en place plusieurs modèles pour le centre relais.
6232 On pourrait imaginer, par exemple, au Canada qu'une entreprise fournisse un service basé sur des centres relais centralisés en employant des interprètes et qu'une autre structure, comme on peut le faire en France, propose de signer des partenariats avec des agences d'interprètes indépendantes et de leur demander de rendre le service de centre relais. Donc, ça permet une flexibilité pour pouvoir comparer les différentes organisations et les différentes offres.
6233 Le point négatif, c'est que ça nécessite, évidemment, des règles très claires et en suivi pour éviter ce qui a pu se passer, par exemple, aux États-Unis avec la fraude, pour éviter que certains opérateurs soient tentés de proposer une qualité faible.
6234 Et le deuxième problème, c'est qu'en poussant, à mon sens, trop le modèle concurrentiel, comme je pense a été le cas un moment donné aux États-Unis, on peut se retrouver avec trop de fournisseurs de service qui vont finalement eux-mêmes avoir du mal à fournir le service parce qu'il n'y a pas assez de volume d'appels, et une situation hyperconcurrentielle n'est pas forcément productive.
6235 Alors, pour conclure, je voulais vous présenter notre point de vue français par rapport à ce que notre consortium en France souhaite mettre en place.
6236 Nous, on pense que le bon modèle est situé quelque part entre ce qui a été fait aux États-Unis et ce qui est fait en Suède. On pense que ça l'a du sens d'avoir une infrastructure nationale qui ne rende que les fonctions essentielles du service, c'est-à-dire, dans l'idéal -- donc, ce n'est que mon point de vue :
6237 - une plateforme qui permette l'interconnexion entre les différents fournisseurs de service;
6238 - une plateforme qui permette de fournir un numéro de téléphone aux usagers sourds; donc, cette plateforme, ça lui permettrait aussi de comptabiliser le nombre d'usagers et de les identifier;
6239 - une plateforme qui, pourquoi pas, permette de s'interconnecter au réseau téléphonique; c'est-à-dire qu'on pourrait imaginer que cette plateforme nationale ne traite que les appels entrants et sortants audio vers le réseau téléphonique, ce qui est aussi, je pense, un point de contrôle intéressant. Ça permet de voir le volume d'appels en réel, et puis, pourquoi pas, de vérifier la qualité. Ensuite, tout dépend de la législation du pays;
6240 - et de laisser à des fournisseurs, à plusieurs fournisseurs concurrents, puisqu'on pense qu'un modèle concurrentiel est meilleur qu'un modèle basé sur le monopole, laisser une flexibilité aux fournisseurs d'avoir aussi une partie de plateforme indépendante pour rendre des services à valeur ajoutée et se différencier, comme ce qu'on trouve chez les opérateurs mobiles pour les entendants.
6241 Donc là, ces services à valeur ajoutée, ça pourrait être les files d'attente vers les interprètes, des messageries vidéo, un certain nombre de terminaux et tout un tas de fonctions qu'on peut imaginer, jusqu'à la vidéo conférence, et cætera, et cætera. Voilà!
6242 Mais ces fonctions-là, il nous semble que c'est difficile de les inclure dans une plateforme nationale parce qu'ensuite, l'expérience utilisateur des fournisseurs qui vont fournir les terminaux, enfin, une interconnexion entre les terminaux et une plateforme nationale qui rendrait trop de services. Voilà! C'est notre point de vue.
6243 Il nous semble aussi important de mettre en place une phase d'expérimentation pour pouvoir inclure les différents acteurs et puis choisir quel est le modèle le plus adapté au pays.
6244 Et nous pensons, donc, comme je l'ai dit dans la présentation, que, pour les organisations d'interprètes existantes, il ne serait pas bon que le centre relais vienne concurrencer des organisations qui, pour certaines, sont un petit peu fragiles. Donc, je pense que le centre relais, c'est aussi une opportunité de renforcer des organisations existantes. Voilà!
6245 Je vous remercie. C'est la fin de notre présentation.
6246 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci.
6247 Vice-Chair Pentefountas.
6248 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Merci, Monsieur le Président.
6249 Bonjour, Monsieur Chabanol. Merci beaucoup d'avoir pris le temps d'être parmi nous aujourd'hui. Êtes-vous basé à Montréal ou est-ce que vous avez fait le voyage?
6250 M. CHABANOL : J'ai fait le déplacement. Voilà!
6251 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, merci beaucoup pour votre présence. C'est grandement apprécié.
6252 Je vais peut-être commencer... Un moment donné, vous avez perdu des appels d'offre à d'autres fournisseurs qui présentaient un prix moindre. On peut commencer par la France, mais les prix par minute en Europe -- commençons par la France, puis peut-être on peut regarder l'Europe at large -- ils varient entre quel prix par minute par rapport à ce qu'on vit ici en Amérique du Nord?
6253 M. CHABANOL : Alors, par rapport aux propositions que nous, nous avons été amenés à faire, alors, il y a énormément de paramètres, mais on se situe entre, je dirais, 2.50 euros et 3.50 euros, 3.80 euros. Ça va dépendre aussi du fait que dans certains pays, il y a un budget initial pour mettre en place l'infrastructure, et ensuite, il y a un prix à la minute pour opérer le service.
6254 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais si on exclu le prix de l'infrastructure, on se trouve dans les 2.50 euros?
6255 M. CHABANOL : Je dirais qu'on est entre 2.50 euros et 3 euros, oui.
6256 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Dans ces taux-là?
6257 M. CHABANOL : Voilà!
6258 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
6259 M. CHABANOL : Tout va dépendre ensuite du prix des interprètes dans le pays.
6260 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et le taux horaire des interprètes...
6261 M. CHABANOL : Alors, c'est une très bonne question.
6262 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ...en France, disons?
6263 M. CHABANOL : En France -- je ne veux pas vous dire de bêtise -- c'est entre 65 et 85 euros de l'heure, me semble-t-il.
6264 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Soixante-cinq à 85...
6265 M. CHABANOL : Euros de l'heure.
6266 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : De l'heure. O.K. Ce n'est pas donné?
6267 M. CHABANOL : Ce n'est pas donné.
6268 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Est-ce qu'il y une contribution qui est exigée des utilisateurs?
6269 M. CHABANOL : Alors, en France, les utilisateurs ne payent pas directement. Aujourd'hui, le service est commercialisé pour l'accessibilité au travail, donc, permettre à des salariés sourds dans leur entreprise d'avoir accès au téléphone, et il y a un fonds qui s'appelle l'Agefiph qui paye.
6270 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et qui...
6271 M. CHABANOL : Voilà! C'est subventionné.
6272 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Par l'état?
6273 M. CHABANOL : Par l'état.
6274 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Le fonds général?
6275 M. CHABANOL : C'est une organisation qui s'appelle l'Agefiph qui collecte une taxe au niveau des entreprises qui n'embauchent pas assez de personnes handicapées, et ce fonds sert à rendre accessible les postes de travail à tout salarié handicapé.
6276 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ce n'est pas les fournisseurs du service téléphonique qui...
6277 M. CHABANOL : Non. Pardon.
6278 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : C'est strictement les employeurs qui n'embauchent pas assez d'employés sourds ou malentendants?
6279 M. CHABANOL : Actuellement en France, c'est comme ça que ça fonctionne.
6280 Et nous sommes en train de discuter de lancer une expérimentation, financée par probablement les opérateurs, pour lancer le centre relais non pas uniquement pour les salariés en entreprise mais aussi pour les particuliers chez eux. Donc là, il y aura une taxe et il y aura un fonds qui viendra financer ces appels.
6281 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Mais pour l'instant, on n'a pas touché aux particuliers?
6282 M. CHABANOL : Pas encore. On est en train... L'appel d'offre est sorti il y a deux semaines, et on est en train de travailler sur le sujet.
6283 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et le service est en place depuis quand?
6284 M. CHABANOL : Le service est en place depuis... le tout premier en 2004.
6285 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Deux mille quatre.
6286 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6287 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et le nombre de centres pour la France, la France est toujours aux alentours de 60 millions de population?
6288 M. CHABANOL : Oui, ça doit être ça. Ça doit être ça.
6289 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Presque le double de ce qui est le Canada?
6290 M. CHABANOL : C'est à peu près ça, effectivement.
6291 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, au niveau des nombres de centres et des nombres d'interprètes qui sont à l'emploi des services?
6292 M. CHABANOL : Aujourd'hui sur le réseau, il y a 120 interprètes qui passent 30 pour cent de leur temps à traiter des appels sur le centre relais.
6293 Et, il y a environ -- alors ça change, enfin, ça augmente tous les mois. Je crois qu'on n'est pas loin de 16 agences d'interprètes indépendantes qui sont... qui font partie du réseau.
6294 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et comment ferons-nous pour assurer qu'ils ne passent pas plus que 30 pour cent de leur temps à travailler pour le SRV?
6295 M. CHABANOL : Alors, ils ont signé une charte. Derrière, je dois vous avouer qu'on a peu de contrôle là-dessus.
6296 Ce qu'il faut comprendre, c'est que c'est plutôt une volonté des interprètes de ne pas passer plus de 30 pour cent. Ils souhaitent continuer à faire leur travail en présentiel.
6297 Donc, s'il y a une interprète un jour, une semaine c'est 50 pour cent. C'est pas dramatique. S'ils préfèrent passer du temps devant un PC, on peut dire c'est un peu...
6298 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Il n'y a pas de suivi comme tel, il n'y a pas une police (ph) de 30 pour cent là, qui...
6299 M. CHABANOL : Non, c'est une charte.
6300 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ... qui débarque.
6301 M. CHABANOL : Ils s'engagent. Ils s'engagent.
6302 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : C'est un engagement personnel.
6303 M. CHABANOL : Je dirais que c'est plutôt l'inverse. C'est plutôt le fournisseur de services qui s'engage à ne pas prendre plus de 30 pour cent du temps de l'interprète.
6304 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Exactement. O.K.
6305 M. CHABANOL : C'est plutôt dans ce sens-là que ça fonctionne.
6306 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, il n'y a pas de contrôle règlementaire à s'assurer que le fournisseur ne dépasse pas cet autre 30 pour cent?
6307 M. CHABANOL : Non. Parce que c'est une politique interne.
6308 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
6309 M. CHABANOL : C'est au sein de notre consortium que nous avons décidé de mettre ça en place. Il n'y a pas de régulation à ce niveau-là.
6310 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, le budget comme tel, est-ce qu'il y a une limite à ce budget-là? Est-ce qu'il y a un max qui peut être atteint?
6311 THE CHAIRPERSON: Excuse me.
6312 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I'm sorry.
6313 THE CHAIRPERSON: Speak a little slower, please.
6314 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Oh, I'm sorry.
6315 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thanks.
6316 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Alors, le budget global pour la France, admettons, est-ce qu'il y a une limite ou est-ce que c'est illimité?
6317 M. CHABANOL : C'est théoriquement, je présume, illimité.
6318 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
6319 M. CHABANOL : C'est forcément limité par le nombre de salariés sourds qui sont dans les entreprises aujourd'hui, puisque c'est de là que viennent les revenus.
6320 Mais c'est théoriquement illimité.
6321 On parle de budgets qui sont aujourd'hui aux alentours de, je dirais, un million d'euros par an.
6322 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Un million?
6323 M. CHABANOL : Un million.
6324 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Un?
6325 M. CHABANOL : Un million.
6326 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Que ça?
6327 M. CHABANOL : Que ça, puisqu'on parle des salariés en entreprises.
6328 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et strictement, oui.
6329 M. CHABANOL : Si on parle, par contre, donc attention.
6330 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
6331 M. CHABANOL : Si, lorsque le centre relais sera ouvert pour les...
6332 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Les particuliers.
6333 M. CHABANOL : Les particuliers.
6334 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
6335 M. CHABANOL : Dans dix ans, on parle de 80 millions d'euros par an. Donc, évidemment, c'est pas du tout les mêmes volumes, pas du tout les mêmes coûts. Et l'organisation aussi est plus lourde à mettre en place. Voilà!
6336 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et, est-ce que vous avez fait une analyse à savoir le nombre de minutes que nous pensons que les utilisateurs vont avoir besoin de ces services par mois?
6337 M. CHABANOL : Alors oui. Malheureusement, de tête, je ne serais pas capable de vous les donner. Mais on a fait des simulations pour savoir quel serait le volume de minutes utilisées par l'utilisateur et combien d'interprètes cela nécessiterait.
6338 Donc, c'est plusieurs milliers d'interprètes. Donc, ça nécessite de mettre en place des plans de formation. Donc, on a tout de suite pu voir que c'était un des axes importants dans la formation des interprètes.
6339 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et éventuellement, ça sera les utilisateurs des services de téléphone qui vont être appelés à contribuer à ce fonds-là?
6340 M. CHABANOL : Éventuellement. Ça, ce n'est pas de ma responsabilité.
6341 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Non, non, je comprends. O.K.
6342 M. CHABANOL : C'est des discussions qui se font au ministère avec le régulateur depuis plusieurs années maintenant. Et une des pistes effectivement, c'est que les opérateurs paient une taxe...
6343 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Si on regarde votre technologie pour retourner à votre domaine d'expertise. Si les heures de SRV sont restreintes, est-ce qu'il y a des obstacles qui empêcheraient d'offrir les appels point à point qui nécessitent pas des interprètes?
6344 M. CHABANOL : Des obstacles? Vous voulez dire?
6345 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Il y a-tu quelque chose qui empêche de continuer à utiliser le service...
6346 M. CHABANOL : Non.
6347 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : ... sans les interprètes, pour les appels point-à-point?
6348 M. CHABANOL : Non, absolument pas.
6349 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Non? O.K.
6350 M. CHABANOL : Non.
6351 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça doit également être le cas pour les appels 911 en tout temps.
6352 M. CHABANOL : Alors, 911 c'est... les appels d'urgence, c'est un sujet un petit peu à part. On est en train aussi de travailler, on a participé au projet REACH 112. Le 112, c'est l'équivalent du 911 en Europe.
6353 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : O.K.
6354 M. CHABANOL : C'est le numéro d'appel d'urgence. Et, on a fait une expérimentation pour rendre ce service accessible.
6355 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
6356 M. CHABANOL : Ça nécessite une infrastructure particulière, puisqu'on a besoin de géolocalisation.
6357 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
6358 M. CHABANOL : On a besoin de se connecter, alors, le terme français, je ne suis pas sûr de l'avoir. Les PSAP (ph).
6359 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Oui.
6360 M. CHABANOL : Donc, les unités qui gèrent les appels. C'est des organisations qui existent aujourd'hui évidemment qui traitent des appels pour les pompiers, pour la police, pour la santé.
6361 Donc, ça nécessite des adaptations pour que ce soit fonctionnel dans des organisations de PSAP existantes.
6362 Et aujourd'hui en France, pour prendre le cas de la France, il y a un projet dédié qui s'appelle le 114. Donc, il y a un numéro de téléphone avec une infrastructure dédiée qui gère les appels d'urgence avec des permanenciers sourds qui sont dans les PSAP, oui.
6363 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Et ça, c'est financé par le fonds général?
6364 M. CHABANOL : Alors ça, c'est financé je crois, mais je ne suis pas sûr, par le ministère de la Santé. Ça fait partie des missions du ministère de la Santé.
6365 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Intéressant.
6366 M. CHABANOL : À vérifier, là je ne suis pas sûr de ce que je viens de vous dire.
6367 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et, est-ce que c'est... alors, c'est pas une question d'être obligé de prioriser ces appels-là, parce qu'on appelle pas le numéro, comme ici ça serait pas le 911. Les gens qui auront besoin de ces services-là appelleront un autre numéro de téléphone.
6368 M. CHABANOL : Voilà, c'est ça.
6369 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : C'est exact? O.K.
6370 M. CHABANOL : Et, il y a les permanenciers sourds qui sont dans le PSAP et qui répondent aux appels d'urgence. Donc, ils sont vraiment « rooté » sur une plateforme différente.
6371 C'est le choix de l'organisation qui a été mis en place en France. Mais on peut imaginer d'autres organisations avec, bien, un numéro 911 prioritaire.
6372 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6373 M. CHABANOL : Qui permettent d'envoyer l'appel prioritairement sur un interprète en langue des signes, qui traiterait tous types d'appels, mettons.
6374 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Mais votre technologie...
6375 M. CHABANOL : Permet de faire ça.
6376 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Permettra ça?
6377 M. CHABANOL : Absolument, oui.
6378 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Excellent.
6379 M. CHABANOL : Elle permet, je dirais, à minima, de faire ça.
6380 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6381 M. CHABANOL : Et on permet aussi de mettre des agents sourds dans les PSAP. Et ça, c'est...
6382 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et la géolocalisation avec votre technologie, est-ce que ça...
6383 M. CHABANOL : Et on s'inter connecte avec les opérateurs pour récupérer les informations de géolocalisation sur téléphone mobile. Voilà!
6384 Ça, c'est de l'ordre, par contre, de l'expérimentation aujourd'hui. On est en train de travailler sur une...
6385 THE CHAIRPERSON: Do we need to pause for a minute?
6386 M. CHABANOL : On est sur une procédure négociée en France pour lancer...
6387 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Pardon. Je pense qu'il y a un problème technique.
6388 M. CHABANOL : Excusez-moi.
--- Technical difficulties
6389 CONSEILLER PENTEFOUNTAS : Ça va? Bon. Désolé pour l'interruption.
6390 M. CHABANOL : O.K.
6391 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Désolé.
6392 M. CHABANOL : Pas de soucis.
6393 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : On parlait de 911.
6394 M. CHABANOL : Donc 911, donc, notre plateforme permet à minima d'envoyer des appels dans des files prioritaires.
6395 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6396 M. CHABANOL : Sur un central existant. Et permet aussi de mettre en place des PSAP dédiés pour les personnes sourdes qui aujourd'hui, à l'état expérimental, et qu'on doit sortir en version... enfin, un produit utilisable l'an prochain.
6397 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et permet la géolocalisation...
6398 M. CHABANOL : Et permet...
6399 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Vous me dites, sur une phase expérimentale pour l'instant.
6400 M. CHABANOL : Alors, on a fait la géolocalisation en expérimental dans le cadre de REACH 112.
6401 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et les conclusions?
6402 M. CHABANOL : Bien les conclusions, c'est qu'il faut être en relation très forte avec les opérateurs mobiles du pays pour qu'ils publient leurs informations de géolocalisation.
6403 Donc, c'est là qu'on a besoin du régulateur, qu'il y a des discussions qui doivent se mener entre le service, le fournisseur de services d'appels d'urgence pour les sourds et les différents opérateurs qui doivent publier les informations de géolocalisation.
6404 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et un service de rappel dans le cas de ces appels d'urgence, est-ce que ça fait partie de votre technologie également?
6405 M. CHABANOL : Alors, pour le REACH 112, je ne suis pas sûr qu'on ait implémenté cette fonction. Mais bon, qui n'est pas...
6406 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Au cas de perte de communication.
6407 M. CHABANOL : Au cas de perte de communication.
6408 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Pour permettre au...
6409 M. CHABANOL : On gère les appels sortants. Donc, on peut tout à fait imaginer de rappeler la personne.
6410 Là, vraiment le défi technologique sur ces appels d'urgence, c'était clairement la géolocalisation.
6411 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et il y a t'il un rapport automatisé qui fait partie de votre plateforme, qui permet une surveillance étroite, si vous voulez, du SRV?
6412 M. CHABANOL : Alors oui. Donc, nous avons été amenés à travailler avec trois centres relais états-uniens. Et la FCC...
6413 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Avec qui?
6414 M. CHABANOL : Avec trois centres relais côté États-Unis.
6415 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Ah O.K. Pardon.
6416 M. CHABANOL : Voilà.
6417 Et, la FCC, lors des dernières réformes, avait demandé à ce que quelqu'un puisse espionner les appels.
6418 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6419 M. CHABANOL : Donc, visualiser des flux vidéo, écouter des appels audio. Et donc, nous avons cette fonctionnalité qui avait été activée aux États-Unis, qui n'est pas activée en France, parce qu'en France, la confidentialité et les règles qui ont été mises en place ne permettent pas d'activer cette fonction.
6420 Mais donc, nous avons cette fonction-là.
6421 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et, ça contient tous les renseignements que tu peux imaginer. Il n'y a pas de limite pour vous.
6422 M. CHABANOL : Donc, nous sommes... enfin propriétaires! Nous avons accès à 100 pour cent du code source de la plateforme. Donc, si un client ou un partenaire nous demande de publier l'ensemble des informations, on a accès à toutes les informations. Les flux vidéo, les durées d'appel, les qualités vidéo, enfin, l'ensemble de ces informations.
6423 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et, votre technologie par rapport à des empêchements de fraude et d'abus. Nous avons entendu, vous avez mentionné le FCC, là. Ça semble être le cheval de bataille depuis un certain temps, de contrôler ces abus ou fraude, à l'extrême.
6424 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6425 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Est-ce qu'il y a des mesures à l'intérieur de votre technologie qui puissent nous permettre de...
6426 M. CHABANOL : Alors, on a une fonction...
6427 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : D'exercer un certain contrôle.
6428 M. CHABANOL : Oui. Il y a des fonctions qui permettent d'espionner les appels. Donc, visualiser le continu des appels en direct.
6429 On a des fonctions pour exporter automatiquement toutes les statistiques d'appels directs, d'appels vers les centres d'appel.
6430 Tout ça, de manière automatique par des interfaces de programmatique (ph).
6431 Ensuite, on peut imaginer d'installer une infrastructure dédiée dans le pays qui soit hébergée par une instance de surveillance pour qu'ils aient un accès complet physique aux plateformes.
6432 Donc, voilà. À part...
6433 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et bien sûr, identifier chaque utilisateur, ça serait un jeu d'enfant, j'imagine?
6434 M. CHABANOL : Alors, chaque utilisateur sur notre plateforme est identifié par un numéro de téléphone.
6435 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6436 M. CHABANOL : Voilà! Tout ce qui est adresse IP, on récupère aussi les adresses IP. Mais les gens qui sont autorisés à appeler sont d'abord identifiés par un identifiant au mot de passe. Ils ont un numéro de téléphone et puis on récupère aussi leur adresse IP si jamais il y avait eu un vol de mot de passe... un vol de mot de passe.
6437 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un aux États qui utilise une technologie semblable, à votre connaissance?
6438 M. CHABANOL : D'autres états qui utilisent une technologie semblable?
6439 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Aux États-Unis, je parle.
6440 M. CHABANOL : Bien enfin, nous, nos concurrents en tout cas, on a un concurrent suédois qui s'appelle le nWise qui a une technologie similaire pour les centres relais, pas pour les appels d'urgence, ne le répétez pas.
6441 Et puis aux États-Unis...
6442 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : C'est un produit inférieur, je suis convaincu!
6443 M. CHABANOL : Je ne veux pas faire de publicité ici.
6444 Et, aux États-Unis, on a des concurrents qui ont plutôt une organisation verticale, donc, telle que Sorenson, par exemple.
6445 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6446 M. CHABANOL : Qui vont fournir la technologie et aussi les interprètes.
6447 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6448 M. CHABANOL : Donc nous, on n'est vraiment pas dans, comme vous l'aurez compris, IVèS en tout cas, fournit uniquement la plateforme technologique et ensuite, on a des partenariats avec des sociétés telles que WebSourd et Trait d'union pour pouvoir avoir une organisation verticale.
6449 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Je comprends.
6450 Je vais vous amener à l'autre bout du monde. On a parlé des États. J'aimerais qu'on voyage en Australie pour quelques minutes. L'Australian Communications Exchange...
6451 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6452 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : ...a affirmé récemment que l'Australie est passée d'une plateforme de SRV spécialisée à Skype.
6453 Voulez-vous nous parler brièvement des avantages et inconvénients de Skype par rapport à une plateforme de SRV?
6454 M. CHABANOL : L'avantage de Skype, c'est que c'est gratuit. L'avantage de Skype, pour l'usager, c'est que c'est assez simple à utiliser et à mettre en place.
6455 L'inconvénient pour une plateforme de SRV, c'est qu'on ne peut pas garantir la qualité de la vidéo. On ne peut pas garantir que la semaine prochaine, Skype décide de changer sa politique et d'interdire les appels.
6456 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6457 M. CHABANOL : Les appels de Skype à Skype nous permettent pas d'avoir des files d'attente, ne permettent pas de gérer les appels d'urgence, ne permettent pas de récupérer les statistiques facilement, en tout cas, sur les appels.
6458 Je dirais, nous en fait, Skype, on ne voit pas Skype comme un concurrent. On voit Skype comme un terminal d'accès.
6459 Donc nous par exemple, nous avons une passerelle.
6460 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6461 M. CHABANOL : Qui permet de connecter des clients Skype. Ensuite, les usagers sourds, on les identifie avec leur identifiant Skype. On leur laisse la possibilité d'appeler à partir de Skype, mais sans aucune garantie de la qualité.
6462 Et toute la partie statistique reste sur notre plateforme de service. Et toute la partie file d'attente reste aussi sur notre plateforme de services.
6463 Donc pour nous, c'est un terminal d'accès parmi tant d'autres.
6464 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et pas plus que ça.
6465 M. CHABANOL : Non.
6466 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Juste pour quitter un petit peu ce champ-là, IVèS a été fondé en quelle année?
6467 M. CHABANOL : Deux mille six.
6468 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Deux mille six. O.K.
6469 M. CHABANOL : Voilà!
6470 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Ça va.
6471 M. CHABANOL : Deux mille six. Et donc, nous avons un bureau à Montréal depuis trois ans maintenant.
6472 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K. Et, est-ce qu'offrir le SRV sur des appareils mobiles comporte des différences importantes pour un fournisseur?
6473 M. CHABANOL : Les différences, c'est que, bien, garantir la qualité du réseau mobile, ce n'est pas possible. Donc, si on parle des appels d'urgence par exemple, on peut être dans certains cas incapable de passer un appel d'urgence si on se trouve dans un endroit reculé avec un réseau mobile.
6474 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Vous pouvez approcher le micro, si vous voulez!
6475 M. CHABANOL : pardon!
6476 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Sinon, vous allez...
6477 M. CHABANOL : Vous m'entendez bien ou pas?
6478 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Ça va mieux.
6479 M. CHABANOL : Ça va mieux.
6480 Donc, je dirais que la difficulté, c'est le réseau mobile lui-même.
6481 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6482 M. CHABANOL : Et, au-delà de ça, les différents filtres qui peuvent être mis en place par les opérateurs pour refuser les appels visio d'opérateur...
6483 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Est-ce que c'est strictement une question de bande passante sans fil ou...
6484 M. CHABANOL : Non, non. Il y a la bande passante et il y a des équipements qui vont aussi filtrer et interdire les appels visio dans certains pays et dans certains cas.
6485 Donc, ce qui oblige à mettre en place des technologies qu'on appelle de fin de tunnel pour... bien, pour passer toutes ces sécurités...
6486 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Même avec une application?
6487 M. CHABANOL : Il faut que cette application contienne un tunnel pour passer ces différentes sécurités.
6488 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Pour passer, oui.
6489 M. CHABANOL : Dans certains cas. Dans certains cas.
6490 Ce n'est pas insurmontable, mais c'est des choses à prendre en compte.
6491 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : En considération, bien entendu.
6492 M. CHABANOL : Sauf si le régulateur demande aux différents opérateurs mobiles d'ouvrir ces équipements de sécurité pour laisser passer les appels visio provenant des usagers sourds.
6493 Et même, pourquoi pas les faire passer en priorité? Mais ça, c'est...
6494 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Parlez-nous en un petit peu...
6495 UNE INTERPRÈTE : Excusez-moi.
6496 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6497 UNE INTERPRÈTE : Pouvez-vous ralentir un petit peu?
6498 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6499 M. CHABANOL : Excusez-moi.
6500 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : On vous attaque de tout bord, tout côté. Parle pas assez fort, parle trop vite!
6502 Comment les fournisseurs de SRV sont choisis en France? Est-ce qu'il y a une structure et si oui, qui a fait partie de cette structure-là?
6503 M. CHABANOL : Alors, pour la partie accès au travail, il y a des appels d'offres. Donc, c'est chaque entreprise qui passe des appels d'offres et qui décide de quel fournisseur va installer le téléphone pour ses salariés.
6504 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et, c'est l'entreprise qui décide?
6505 M. CHABANOL : C'est l'entreprise qui décide.
6506 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6507 Et, dans le cadre de ce nouveau projet pour offrir le SRV aux particuliers, est-ce qu'il y a une structure en place?
6508 Alors, c'est le ministère de la Santé ou des Affaires sociales qui a sorti un appel d'offres et les différents fournisseurs vont faire une proposition et ensuite, ils se font sélectionner en fonction de la qualité du service, puisqu'il est demandé que les interprètes soient diplômés, ce qui est un premier niveau de qualité, et en fonction du prix.
6509 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Mais, c'est le ministère qui va décider tout ça.
6510 M. CHABANOL : C'est le ministère qui va décider. Il y a eu des discussions pendant plusieurs années avec les différents intervenants.
6511 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6512 M. CHABANOL : Donc, les associations de sourds, les différents fournisseurs.
6513 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Mais, ces intervenants-là ni les fournisseurs des services téléphoniques ne siégeront pas sur un comité qui en décidera?
6514 M. CHABANOL : Je ne crois pas. Pas à ma connaissance. Pas à ma connaissance.
6515 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Ni le régulateur qui sera impliqué. Ça sera strictement le ministère de la Santé ou de...
6516 M. CHABANOL : C'est ce que je pense. Mais c'est probablement une information à vérifier. Le régulateur a été amené à faire des études comparatives et des études de faisabilité pour la mise en place.
6517 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6518 M. CHABANOL : Mais ensuite, sur le processus de décision, je ne pense pas. Mais je ne suis pas sûr qu'ils aient un poids quelconque sur la décision finale.
6519 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et, est-ce qu'il y a une idée de la durée de ces contrats?
6520 M. CHABANOL : L'expérimentation doit durer un an et demi.
6521 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6522 M. CHABANOL : Et ensuite, je ne sais pas ce qui va être décidé.
6523 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Il y a pas de...
6524 M. CHABANOL : Dans d'autres pays, ce sont des durées de cinq ans.
6525 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6526 M. CHABANOL : En Hollande et en Suède.
6527 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et c'est un petit peu la norme pour permettre au fournisseur de rentabiliser son investissement, cinq ans?
6528 M. CHABANOL : Oui. Oui, oui. Deux ans, trois ans, c'est courant.
6529 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : C'est pas assez.
6530 M. CHABANOL : C'est pas assez. Il faut... bon. Bon, la technologie n'étant pas vraiment le problème principal, mais c'est plutôt la formation des interprètes, le fait de mettre en place une organisation avec les interprètes, d'informer les usagers sourds. Il faut quand même avoir des contrats d'une certaine durée pour avoir...
6531 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et cinq ans a été décidé comme la durée idéale, si vous voulez, qui permettra la rentabilisation de la part du fournisseur et l'innovation dans le marché.
6532 M. CHABANOL : Je ne sais pas. Je ne sais pas. Je ne fais que constater que dans les différents pays, les durées maximums sont de trois ans... de cinq ans, pardon! Cinq ans, certains, je crois que c'est en Suède. Je crois que c'est trois ans, renouvelables, enfin, trois ans avec une extension possible de deux ans.
6533 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et le rapport -- finalement je vais terminer là-dessus. Le rapport entre les coûts initiaux et récurrents pour mettre en place un système pour les particuliers. Je ne parle pas du service qui est là pour les travailleurs dans les entreprises. Mais pour les particuliers, est-ce que vous avez une idée, en France par exemple, des coûts initiaux et par la suite, des coûts récurrents?
6534 M. CHABANOL : C'est difficile à dire. C'est difficile à dire.
6535 Pour la technologie, je pourrais vous répondre. Il y a des coûts initiaux de plusieurs centaines de milliers d'euros pour développer la technologie. Et ensuite, on a des coûts récurrents.
6536 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Nonobstant la grandeur du marché?
6537 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6538 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : La technologie est en place et ça peut servir...
6539 M. CHABANOL : La technologie... voilà!
6540 Non, par contre, ça peut dépendre des fonctionnalités qu'on met en place. Est-ce que la plateforme ne traite que les appels courants? Est-ce qu'elle gère les appels d'urgence?
6541 Si elle gère les appels d'urgence, de quelle façon elle les gère? Ça, ça peut avoir un impact sur les coûts et faire passer les coûts de quelques centaines de milliers d'euros à plutôt, un, deux millions...
6542 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Facilement.
6543 M. CHABANOL : Facilement, oui.
6544 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Et le nombre de centres doit également jouer dans ces coûts initiaux de...
6545 M. CHABANOL : Alors ensuite, je dirais que les frais d'installation, oui, ça va jouer. Ça va surtout jouer sur la maintenance et le support. Donc, plutôt sur les coûts récurrents, puisque, bien plus il y a de centres, plus il y a surtout d'interprètes et plus il y a d'usagers et plus on va y avoir du support et de la maintenance, plus on aura des frais de... plus on aura de licence, de terminaux pour des applications mobiles dans le pays.
6546 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Mais un centre, ça sera plus efficace point de vue de coût que d'avoir une vingtaine de centres à travers la France?
6547 M. CHABANOL : Au niveau du support, probablement, oui.
6548 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K.
6549 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6550 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : O.K. Je vais juste vous ramener sur un point que vous avez fait dans votre présentation.
6551 Vous dites à un moment donné, dans la partie concurrence, que trop de concurrence peut être contre-productif.
6552 M. CHABANOL : Oui.
6553 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Voulez-vous élaborer?
6554 M. CHABANOL : Bien sûr. Alors, je vais prendre peut-être l'exemple des États-Unis où il y avait jusqu'à 41 centres d'appels indépendants.
6555 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Oui.
6556 M. CHABANOL : Aujourd'hui, je crois qu'il n'en reste que cinq sur toutes différentes réformes.
6557 Il y avait... il y a eu, je pense, plusieurs centres relais qui pouvaient pas vivre sans frauder, ou très difficilement.
6558 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Mais contre-productif, dans un sens oui, mais dans un autre sens, le marché va toujours trouver l'équilibre à lui-même.
6559 M. CHABANOL : Peut-être, effectivement. Je ne vais pas rentrer dans des considérations politiques.
6560 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Non, non. Pas du tout. Il n'y a rien à voir avec la politique. Mais c'est une constatation qui...
6561 M. CHABANOL : Mais oui. On peut aussi imaginer que le marché va s'autoréguler et qu'on va avoir au début un grand nombre de fournisseurs et puis que certains font mourir tout simplement. Et qu'à un moment donné, on va arriver à un régime de croisière avec un nombre de fournisseurs, comment dirais-je? Équilibré. C'est tout à fait exact.
6562 Et ce processus, c'est aussi mis en place en France. On a eu jusqu'à, je crois, cinq ou six fournisseurs de centres relais. Il va en rester, je pense, trois pour le pays.
6563 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Je comprends.
6564 M. CHABANOL : Voilà!
6565 CONSEILLER PENTAFONTAS : Monsieur le Président, ça complète pour moi. Merci.
6566 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Simpson.
6567 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Good morning.
6568 I'm going to ask my questions in English if that's okay.
6569 MR. CHABANOL: Okay.
6570 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I just wanted to make sure you're prepared.
6571 I just have a few and part of my questions centre on a cooperative model, I have some questions about how the consortium works, and the others will be relegated to technology.
6572 On the consortium model, I had asked the representatives of AVLIC, the --
6573 MR. CHABANOL: I can't hear you very well.
6574 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Earlier in the week I had asked the Association of Visual Language Interpreters, who is an organization that applies standards to translation services in Canada, about what makes an individual want to become an interpreter, and the purpose of that question was to try and understand whether interpreters saw what they do as a social service or as a profit-making business as individuals and as groups.
6575 By the end of that conversation it was becoming apparent to me that we are looking at spending tens of millions of dollars potentially building a VRS system in this country, if we decide to do so, around services that are largely cottage industry, if you like, individuals, not companies, that provide translation services.
6576 So my question to you is: Is the consortium model a sustainable model given the experience you had in Sweden where, if I understood you correctly, your consortium fell apart at the RFP stage?
6577 M. CHABANOL : Je vais répondre en français.
6578 Je pense que, effectivement... Alors, vous avez parlé de plusieurs choses, d'associations, de coopératives et de consortium, qui sont pour moi des notions différentes.
6579 Tout d'abord, donc, les coopératives ne sont pas des associations. C'est la première chose. Une coopérative, c'est une entreprise qui doit gérer son budget, qui ne vit pas forcément de subventions, et qui a, par contre, un but social. Dans le cas des coopératives dont on parle, c'est la première chose.
6580 Un consortium, c'est un groupement d'organisations qui peuvent être des associations ou des coopératives mais aussi des entreprises privées, et, à mon sens, à ma connaissance, en Europe en tout cas, sur les différents appels d'offre que j'ai pu voir, il n'y a que des consortiums qui ont remporté les appels d'offre, et c'est toujours des consortiums qui se composent d'un fournisseur de technologie, d'une organisation qui fournit les interprètes ou d'une organisation qui va opérer le service, donc, aller installer les terminaux chez les clients, faire la maintenance, et cætera, et cætera.
6581 À ma connaissance, les seules organisations totalement verticales qui sont capables de tout faire clé en main, la technologie et l'interprétation, ne se trouvent qu'aux États-Unis, en l'occurrence donc, Sorenson, Purple, mais je ne crois pas qu'on ait d'équivalent en Europe.
6582 Donc, en Europe, il n'y a que des consortiums, et force est de constater que ça fonctionne puisque, en Suède, le service est rendu, mettons, le plus ordonné.
6583 Alors, ça requiert, évidemment, au sein du consortium d'avoir des règles claires, que les partenaires sachent quel est leur rôle, et généralement, il y a trois rôles, comme je vous l'ai dit tout à l'heure, et ça fonctionne très, très bien.
6584 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I stand corrected with respect to using both terms, switching back and forth.
6585 The idea, though, that a technology company such as yours is to, as I understand it, work with an organization such as AVLIC in Canada, and would your intention then be to come forward with a consortium bid? Is that what I'm understanding?
6586 M. CHABANOL : Si nous avons la possibilité de participer à un consortium au Canada, nous participerons, mais on ne viendra pas tout seul monter un consortium.
6587 On est en discussion avec un certain nombre d'organisations. Je dirais, si on est invité à venir au Canada et si des organisations sont intéressées pour travailler avec nous, nous ferons partie, je le souhaite, j'espère, d'un consortium.
6588 Mais en aucun cas nous ne viendrons proposer une organisation verticale en embauchant nous-mêmes les interprètes ou sans avoir de partenaire local. Ça, ça n'arrivera pas.
6589 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I see. Thank you very much.
6590 On the technology that your company employs for VRS, are you a manufacturer or are you an aggregator of existing technology?
6591 M. CHABANOL : Je dirais les deux. Nous travaillons beaucoup avec des logiciels opensource, donc, on intègre. Le centre d'appels, par exemple, c'est une plateforme qu'on appelle Asterisk, qui est une plateforme opensource. Donc, nous n'avons pas à redévelopper l'ensemble d'un centre d'appels. Ça n'aurait aucun sens économique.
6592 Donc, nous intégrons des technologies et nous fabriquons aussi des technologies, des logiciels, pour adapter ces solutions aux personnes sourdes et malentendantes, donc, vraiment les deux, intégration et création de logiciels.
6593 Une chose importante, c'est que nous avons accès à 100 pour cent du code source. C'est-à-dire que quand un partenaire dans un pays nous demande de changer la plateforme pour répondre aux besoins du régulateur, pour répondre aux lois et aux différentes règles qui sont en place, on n'a aucune limite technologique à ça. On peut faire absolument ce qu'on veut.
6594 C'est ce qu'on a pu faire pour la FCC, par exemple, pour tout ce qui était contrôle de la plateforme. C'est ce qu'on peut faire dans d'autres pays pour tout ce qui est processus de facturation des minutes et des heures d'interprète. Voilà! Cette plateforme, elle est flexible, et nous avons les compétences pour l'adapter aux besoins du pays.
6595 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Have you had any initial conversations with AVLIC and the LSQ interpreters in Quebec at this point?
6596 M. CHABANOL : Donc, nous avons fait une présentation l'an dernier, je crois, avec... Nous avons rencontré l'UQAM, le SIVET. J'avais rencontré, il y a deux ans et l'an dernier, l'Association de l'Ontario. Voilà! Donc, on a eu des débuts de discussion qui ne sont aujourd'hui que des débuts de discussion.
6597 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: My last question goes to your presentation this morning.
6598 Would you help me understand -- this had to do with how many interpreters are being employed in the French system, the system in France. You indicate 120 members. Is this just the universe or -- or the total number that are being used in this VRS program?
6599 M. CHABANOL : Donc, les 120 interprètes, ce sont 120 interprètes qui viennent passer 30 pour cent de leur temps sur la plateforme.
6600 En France, au total, je crois qu'il y a aux environs de 400 interprètes disponibles. Donc, un tiers des interprètes français travaillent sur la plateforme.
6601 Et sur les années à venir, si le service de centre relais en France est amené à se développer, on parle de plusieurs milliers d'interprètes qui seront connectés à la plateforme, et s'ils travaillent avec nous, ils viendront se connecter 30 pour cent de leur temps sur la plateforme, et s'ils travaillent avec des concurrents, il y en a certains qui passeront peut-être 100 pour cent de leur temps sur la plateforme des concurrents.
6602 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you. Those are my questions.
6603 THE CHAIRPERSON: Commissioner Shoan.
6604 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good morning. Thank you for being here and especially thank you for travelling such a long distance.
6605 I have a few cleanup questions and one question of clarification.
6606 So I will start with the question of clarification. You said earlier something about Skype not being able to cue 9-1-1 calls. It was sort a throwaway statement. I was hoping you could expand further upon that.
6607 Perhaps I misunderstood because certainly we've heard this week that Skype has quality issues or could have quality issues that would affect the provision of VRS, but this is the first time I think someone has noted that there could be issues with respect to 9-1-1 and Skype. So if you could answer that.
6608 M. CHABANOL : Alors, il y a plusieurs choses.
6609 D'abord, si on imagine de mettre en place un centre relais basé uniquement sur Skype -- c'est ce dont il était question, je crois, tout à l'heure pour l'Australie -- Skype ne permet de faire que des appels point-à-point entre deux usagers ou des appels en vidéoconférence, et je crois que c'est payant, pour quatre ou cinq usagers, mais Skype n'offre pas de fonction de centre d'appels.
6610 Avec Skype, vous n'avez aucune identification Skype qui vous permet d'être mis en attente et, derrière, d'être mis en relation avec un expert technique ou avec un agent quel qu'il soit. Ce n'est que de l'appel point-à-point.
6611 Donc, le premier besoin si on souhaite équiper les usagers avec du Skype, c'est de mettre en place une plateforme de centre d'appels avec une passerelle Skype qui va venir collecter les appels Skype et les mettre dans des files d'attente, d'accord? Donc, le premier point, c'est que Skype n'a pas de file d'attente.
6612 Le deuxième point au niveau des appels d'urgence, en tout cas pour la France et dans la plupart des pays, le fournisseur de l'application qui permet l'appel d'urgence doit s'engager à un minimum de qualité de service et doit s'engager, a minima, à faire tout ce qu'il peut pour que l'appel aboutisse et pour que, dans le meilleur des cas, le mobile soit géolocalisé, le mobile de l'appelant soit géolocalisé.
6613 Skype, à ma connaissance, même sur les appels d'urgence... en audio, aujourd'hui, je ne peux pas appeler les appels d'urgence avec Skype. Skype ne va pas envoyer les informations de géolocalisation au PSAP, et donc, il me semble très compliqué de proposer des appels d'urgence avec une technologie et un fournisseur qui ne va prendre aucun engagement sur la qualité d'aboutissement et sur les efforts à fournir pour géolocaliser l'appelant. C'est ce que j'ai souhaité exprimer tout à l'heure.
6614 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. That's very helpful.
6615 M. CHABANOL : Merci.
6616 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: I wanted to ask you about a VRS platform. We've had a lot of discussion this week about the type of potential platform that could be adopted, whether it's a common platform, whether it's a system that allows for multiple platforms with required interoperability. We saw a bit today about how your system works and I was specifically wondering about the cost.
6617 Yesterday, we had Mission Consulting here. Mission Consulting had a report commissioned which was placed on the public record. I don't know if you've had a chance to review that report. It was very extensive.
6618 In the context of that report it suggested that a third-party administrator be created to essentially select a platform and either develop one or license one and then sublicense the use of that platform, however they select it, to the various VRS providers, and they had set aside some estimates with respect to how much they thought that would cost.
6619 And so I queried them about that yesterday, thinking that those costs were a little bit high, and they had noted that they had spoken with some VRS providers internationally to get to those numbers.
6620 My question is: How variable are those costs for the potential acquisition for a platform?
6621 I recognize the fact that you're in a competitive business. I certainly wouldn't want you to throw a number out that will hamper your ability to negotiate a contract in the future, so I'm mindful of that.
6622 But if we wanted to keep platform costs manageable, would there be a way of doing that by, for example, limiting the number of call centres or limiting the number of customers? Is there a way of managing platform costs, in your view?
6623 M. CHABANOL : Absolument.
6624 Dans ce cas de figure, nous, ce qu'on essaie de faire avec nos clients, c'est de se mettre d'accord sur un prix avec un nombre maximal d'interprètes, un nombre maximal de comptes utilisateurs et un nombre maximal de volume.
6625 Ensuite, nous, les centres de coût pour nous, donc, vont être évidemment de rentabiliser notre technologie, donc les investissements en recherche et développement que nous avons faits, de payer les coûts de maintenance et de support pour mettre à jour les logiciels, pour répondre aux questions et aux problèmes qui vont remonter du terrain, et puis les coûts d'appels téléphoniques, les coûts d'hébergement des serveurs et les coûts d'achat des numéros de téléphone, et ça pour nous, IVèS, c'est un coût externe.
6626 On achète les minutes d'appel d'un réseau téléphonique quand on appelle un mobile ou un téléphone fixe. On achète les numéros de téléphone. Donc, sur cette partie-là, si on fait des prix trop bas, on peut perdre de l'argent potentiellement.
6627 Donc, ce qu'on essaie de faire au maximum, c'est de demander à nos clients de nous fournir eux-mêmes les numéros de téléphone et puis les appels... enfin, le coût des appels téléphoniques pour que nous, on s'engage sur la partie qui ne nous implique pas de coûts externes, si ce n'est des coûts de salaires, donc, qui sont le développement de la technologie et le support et la maintenance.
6628 Donc, pour répondre à la question, pour avoir un budget gérable, l'idéal serait que nous, on nous demande de nous positionner sur un prix pour une plateforme avec un nombre d'interprètes maximum et un nombre d'usagers maximum, et puis qu'on nous fournisse les numéros de téléphone et les minutes sortantes qui soient peut-être payés directement par un opérateur ou par un régulateur. Voilà! Ça permettrait au mieux de pouvoir s'engager, faire des efforts sur les prix et de ne pas prendre de risque.
6629 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
6630 On the point of phone numbers, a number of appearing parties this week have suggested that a 10-digit phone number for VRS users be mandated. Do you have any views on that?
6631 M. CHABANOL : Absolument.
6632 Je pense qu'il est nécessaire de fournir des numéros de téléphones aux usagers pour leur permettre tout simplement d'être appelables facilement. On a tous ici des cartes de visite avec un numéro de téléphone dessus. Quand quelqu'un souhaite m'appeler, j'ai un numéro de téléphone, et on m'appelle directement. On n'a pas à passer par une plateforme interactive à laquelle mon contact va devoir donner mon nom, ma référence, et qui, finalement, ne va peut-être plus m'appeler parce que c'est trop compliqué. Voilà!
6633 Et puis, en plus, en termes de coût, ce n'est pas... Voilà! Ce n'est pas non plus ça qui va faire une grosse différence, à mon sens.
6634 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
6635 M. CHABANOL : Pour compléter la réponse, sur des petits volumes, l'achat des numéros de téléphone, je crois que c'est 1 dollar par moi, et sur des gros volumes, on tombe à quelques centimes, quelques dizaines de centimes.
6636 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
6637 M. CHABANOL : Par contre, la différence pour l'usager, elle est énorme.
6638 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
6639 Last question. I wanted to ask you about what we've termed "ancillary services," so additional add-on services above the core VRS offering such as video mail, call waiting and other services such as that. We've been querying appearing parties this week as to, first of all, what those ancillary additional services should be, and, secondly, whether or not they would be willing to pay for them.
6640 So, as a provider, my question is, what do you envision offering or what do you presently offer in other jurisdictions over and above the core VRS offering and do you expect to charge a fee for that?
6641 M. CHABANOL : Alors, on pourrait l'imaginer. Tout dépend de l'organisation qui est mise en place dans le pays.
6642 Je peux prendre l'exemple, par exemple, de l'Angleterre et de la France, mais peut-être particulièrement de l'Angleterre.
6643 Notre plateforme permet de gérer le multi-profil. Donc, on a des offres, des paquets de jeu commerciaux, et dans ces offres, on a plus ou moins une fonction. Donc, il y a, par exemple, un pack Basic qu'on appelle, qui permet d'avoir un numéro de téléphone, d'appeler un interprète et de faire des appels directs. On a ensuite un compte Silver -- je peux faire de la publicité, finalement -- qui permet d'avoir, en plus de ces fonctionnalités, une messagerie vidéo. On a un compte Platinum qui permet de réserver un interprète, en plus qui permet de faire de la vidéoconférence.
6644 Et en fonction de ces profils, on va avoir des prix différents qui vont être, soit... bon, pour la plupart, ce n'est jamais pris en charge par l'utilisateur. C'est toujours financé d'une façon ou d'une autre par un organisme, et en fonction des finances de l'organisme, nous, on est capable de fournir un profil plus ou moins évolué. Voilà!
6645 Donc, on est capable de faire ça techniquement. Ensuite, vous dire comment est-ce qu'on le ferait hypothétiquement au Canada, alors, je ne peux pas vous dire. Ça dépend de tellement de choses que je serais incapable de m'engager là-dessus. On a cette flexibilité-là, et on verra comment on pourra l'utiliser.
6646 Ce qui me semble, par contre, important, et je l'ai dit tout à l'heure, moi, je pense qu'une plateforme... c'est important d'avoir une plateforme nationale mais qui ne rende que les fonctions de base et qui ne rende pas trop de services à valeur ajoutée. Plutôt laisser ça à des prestataires de service. Voilà!
6647 Par exemple, je peux prendre aussi l'exemple de la Hollande. La plateforme nationale, elle est quand même un petit peu évoluée. Ça va jusqu'au centre d'appels. Mais il n'y a pas de message vidéo, il n'y a pas de vidéoconférence, il n'y a pas de notification par SMS quand il y a des appels perdus, et ça, nous, on va se proposer de le fournir, en tant qu'entreprise indépendante, pour les entreprises qui sont intéressées par ça, par les particuliers qui sont intéressés par ça. Voilà!
6648 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Terrific! Thank you, those are my questions.
6649 M. CHABANOL : Merci.
6650 THE CHAIRPERSON: Legal, any questions?
6651 MS POPE: Just one question.
6652 Based on your experience in other jurisdictions, what would you estimate the initial and ongoing cost to be for the VRS technology platform? And in your response please indicate how cost would be affected by the number of call centres, the number of customers, and please provide the cost estimates and assumptions used in your answer.
6653 Now, you may wish to enter into an undertaking to provide this information, and because you're from another jurisdiction, just to let you know that you can request confidentiality when filing competitively sensitive information. And if you have questions about that process, staff can help you with that.
6654 M. CHABANOL : Je dois répondre à la question oralement ou...
6655 MME POPE : Soit répondre présentement ou faire un engagement de nous faire parvenir ces renseignements par le 31, jeudi prochain.
6656 M. CHABANOL : D'accord. Alors, je vais plutôt opter pour l'engagement. Comme je vous l'ai dit, nous, on est un fournisseur de technologie. Les coûts de la technologie, on peut les fournir. Les coûts complets du service vont dépendre des partenaires qu'on a en local pour fournir les interprètes. Donc, je ne peux pas m'engager là-dessus.
6657 Alors, je peux vous fournir, a minima, les coûts de la partie technologique, qui vont aussi dépendre, en fait, des fonctionnalités qui sont déployées. Donc, c'est quand même une question difficile. On peut donner une fourchette. Ensuite, rentrer dans le détail, c'est plus de l'ordre du devis ou de la proposition commerciale, en fonction du cahier des charges qu'on nous envoie.
6658 MME POPE : Oui, ça va.
6659 M. CHABANOL : Merci.
6660 LE PRÉSIDENT : Merci beaucoup.
6661 We will take a 10-minute break and return at 10:20.
6662 M. CHABANOL : Merci.
--- Upon recessing at 1010
--- Upon resuming at 1018
6663 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
6664 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of the Canadian Association of the Deaf.
6665 Please introduce yourself and your colleague and you have 20 minutes for your presentation.
6666 Thank you.
6667 MS FOLINO (interpreted): Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners and the CRTC staff. Thank you for providing this opportunity to provide our position about video relay services to this proceeding.
6668 I am Frank Folino. I am the President of Board of Directors of the the CAD. Next to me is our Executive Director, Jim Roots.
6669 We are the oldest national Deaf consumer organization in Canada. We were founded in 1940. We undertakes collection of information, research, community action for the deaf in Canada, people who uses English/ASL, French/LSQ. We promote and protect the rights, the needs and the concerns of those who are linguistically and culturally deaf.
6670 The CAD estimates that there are approximately across Canada 350,000 Canadians who are profoundly deaf and whose preferred communication is ASL/LSQ), preferring sign language.
6671 We strongly fully support the CRTC in requiring the provision of VRS services on a national basis in English/ASL and French/LSQ, requiring it to be 24/7 VRS service, which would include all features such as call centres, technology, 9-1-1 service. It should be designed and functionally equivalent, as has been mentioned all week.
6672 Anything less than 24 hours a day, seven days a week would be unacceptable and contrary to the equality jurisprudence. However, we recognize that there are very important challenges to the financial and administrative requirements of the VRS, so we would support phasing in for 5-year period, as outlined in the Mission Consulting Report.
6673 The CAD sent you an official letter on the 19th of September 2012. We had over 70 organizations, service agencies, interpreter groups and grassroots groups across Canada, including both languages, ASL/LSQ English/French, to remind you, the CRTC, to acknowledge the basic human right to telecommunication for everyone. VRS is urgently needed to continue this progress towards true full accessibility for deaf Canadians.
6674 There is no questions at all deaf Canadians are eagerly waiting for VRS because VRS is an investment to generate full, productive participation of deaf Canadians in social, economic, political and cultural fabric of our country in both of our official languages, French and English, and in our official signed languages ASL and LSQ.
6675 We would like to emphasize that the principle of accessibility, if it's truly accessible as defined in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our Canadian Human Rights Act, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they are all clear that deaf Canadians must have full and equal access to telecommunications, and that will be provided by VRS, provided in workplaces, communities, families and in the labour market. This will deliver equal opportunities for both deaf and hearing people.
6676 In terms of the benefits of VRS, it will significantly reduce communication barriers that currently restrict deaf people from full economic participation in our society. Having VRS established will remove barriers and allow for increased employment opportunities and advancement in many ways.
6677 It will reduce social welfare costs and health costs for deaf people;
6678 It will increase the engagement of the consumers and employers and employees in our economy;
6679 It will increase productivity and versatility, because there will be more typical telephone communication;
6680 The deaf will have increased independence and self-esteem;
6681 Greater access to education resources through telecommunications;
6682 Access to conference calls; and of course
6683 Enhanced self-employment opportunities.
6684 VRS will allow telecommunication in the native language. Deaf individuals who use ASL and LSQ will be using their native language instead of being forced to use the written language, their secondary language, English or French.
6685 According to the Mission Consulting Report there is a very important difference between text-based relay and VRS. A voice call can be done at the speed of 170 words per minutes; text relay averages 30 words per minute; and VRS averages 150 words per minute. That is quite a difference in terms of the speed of communication. Obviously VRS is of great benefit for us.
6686 VRS will allow us to have the same access to banks, hotlines, medical situations, retails and government services as all hearing people. We will use VRS for this communication in our first language.
6687 For example, if there was a deaf youth who was facing bullying situations, they could use the hotline using VRS services to enhance the speed of their communication to allow them to communicate their full anxiety in whatever the situation was, their full feelings, instead of being limited through an IP relay or TTY, which restricts their freedom of using their own native language. They would be fully expressive through VRS in terms of their situation.
6689 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): I'm going to address VRS funding and the administration of the service.
6690 We feel that it would be best to establish a new centralized contribution fund. Every TSP and ISP or wireless service provider should pay into this centralized fund on a prorated basis. The CAD submits that even if the revenue were less than $10 million, the TSP and ISP should pay and contribute the centralized fund.
6691 CAD recommends and supports the adoption of the Mission Consulting proposals as follows:
6692 Mission Consulting saw an estimated cost of $32 million for the service. CAD agrees that that would be likely.
6693 VRS providers should be paid per video interpreting hour, not minute-by-minute use, in order to decrease the opportunity for fraud.
6694 It will also improve the management of the interpreting service and efficiency.
6695 We feel there should be a trial period in order to then determine the true costs. During the trial period you would collect the actual costs and design, then, an appropriate administrative model for the ongoing program beyond the trial period. This would also prevent the opportunity for fraud.
6696 These were some of the recommendations from the Mission Consulting Report, who also had a list of various ways to prevent fraud and we would support those measures.
6697 In terms of governance, the CAD also agrees with Mission Consulting that we would have a third-party administrator responsible for managing the funds collected from the TSPs;
6698 would set the operational standards; they would choose the operating platform and the database that would be required to be used by all the VRS providers;
6699 and they would contract for VRS services and monitor these services for quality and all other considerations and make periodic reports to you, the CRTC.
6700 The administrator would also manage contracts and grants for the delivery of services; they would have a board. The CAD prefers that the board actually not be established. We would think that it should be better to just have a direct link between the CRTC and the running of this service. There is no need for the board to be in between these two.
6701 The reason we suggest this is because the administrative operator needs to have deaf oversight. If you have a board it may be oppressive to the deaf and that would limit job opportunities for the deaf. They would say, "We don't need the deaf". They might have deaf on the board, but they may not hire deaf employees, they would say the representation was just there by having deaf people on the board, whereas there need to be deaf employees.
6702 Our goal would be that VRS would have 75 percent control by deaf individuals, whether it be the board or the actual operating level, but there should be 75 percent of deaf representation at both of these levels.
6703 In Canada, VRS should be based on one ASL provider and one LSQ provider under this centralized fund, with one platform that is interoperable, has features and call centre capabilities of the VRS technologies, and this would be addressed through specific well-defined specifications and quality of service.
6705 MR. FOLINO (interpreted): I would like to focus on the VRS interpreters.
6706 CAD feels it's very important that the interpreter community and the VRS interpreting service interpreters have some equality. We do not want to see all of the community interpreters being used for VRS and leaving a deficit in the community. It's very important that they be equal and not harm the community service.
6707 In establishing the VRS at that initial stage, and if you have a third-party administrator from the CRTC, they can provide grants to the interpreter training programs across Canada to encourage the growth and development within the interpreting profession. This would foster long-term growth.
6708 We would like to support and encourage research in the initial phases of VRS so that by the time the initial phase is done things will become permanent and lasting.
6709 Qualified interpreters are the most crucial part of any VRS. There are organizations that are already focused in terms of their energy on ASL and LSQ interpreting across Canada and they are best suited to provide VRS.
6710 At the same time, having the third-party -- as you fund the interpreter training programs and the VRS is started up, this will help to facilitate community interpreting needs and the VRS interpreting needs so that there would be a balance. So that service would still be provided for the community as well as VRS.
6711 We know that there is a need for interpreters across Canada. We need to know that interpreters ... As I said, there is a shortage of interpreters across Canada. And when you look at the size of Canada, there is a pre-established relationship with interpreters in our communities with ASL and LSQ interpreters. We need to encourage the growth of interpreters in both LSQ French and ASL. The LSQ French providers can focus on the needs of the LSQ community.
6712 A collaboration and involvement with UQAM and SIVET, as we heard yesterday, they are regional agencies in Québec, this is imperative to any LSQ VRS offering. LSQ French and ASL English VRS providers should be separate. They can use the same platform. They need to be equal but separate. We need to be sure that they have policies and funding and operations that are equal although separate.
6713 In terms of privacy and confidentiality, the same privacy and confidentiality requirements as are currently in place for MRS and IPR must apply to VRS services. Consumer confidentiality is a requirement imposed by the CRTC on the TSPs. It should be required of all VRS providers. The systems, networks and data security must include these measures to safeguard clearly defined rules and policies that apply to all personnel and business practices. The VRS interpreters need to be trained in ethical issues related to transparency, privacy, confidentiality, roles and responsibilities and to be sure that fraud or misuse when encountered or is suspected of being perpetrated on deaf consumers is revealed.
6714 Privacy standards must be in contracts between the VRS providers and the funding entities. Likely third party administrators need to be involved as well.
6715 In terms of education and outreach, deaf organizations across Canada have the expertise to provide this training in ASL English, French LSQ. As well the VRS providers should provide direct outreach activities to the consumers. They can make themselves available to learn directly from consumers this way in what service improvements are desired by being in touch with the consumers. Consumer advocacy and social organizations are the best suited, as I said, to outreach to their members, and government social agencies are best suited to provide the educational campaigns to the general public. Meaning, of course, hearing population in Canada who need to know about VRS.
6716 911 and VRS, CAD would like to see this established. When you establish VRS, 911 needs to be established at the same time. During the research phase you would be finding out how it was going to operate. It is important to point out that overnight calls might be the most important for emergency services, things like natural disasters, weather warnings, amber alerts, et cetera. They should be through VRS so that the deaf community will know as they happen.
6717 We ask you, the CRTC, to set up the regulations that require 911 call centres that are technologically accessible and compatible during the research phase and the implementation of services. At the end of the research phase, it should be a complete rollout. This will all be done through the centralized fund.
6718 In conclusion, we would like to mention a speech which was given by Jean-Pierre Blais, the chairman of the -- to the Standing Committee of Canadian Heritage on October the 4th, 2012:
"Finally, Canadians are also residential and business consumers. They want a choice of high-quality, reliable communication services at affordable prices that respond to their needs."
6719 A position was created called the Chief Consumer Officer after this speech. The personal responsible, ensuring that the needs and interests of all consumers are at the heart of the decision-making process. This needs to include the deaf community. It's time. Let's roll up our sleeves, take swift action so that deaf Canadians have full access and equal access. VRS will provide all deaf Canadians who use English ASL or French LSQ communities equal access. The time is now. We welcome your questions. Thank you.
6720 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. Commissioner Shoan will lead the questions.
6721 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good morning. Thank you for being here.
6722 I have a lengthy list of questions. Before I get into those, however, I have a few questions of clarification following your presentation.
6723 In your presentation as well as in your submission you estimated that there are approximately 350,000 Canadians who are profoundly deaf and whose preferred mode of communication is sign language. As you know, Statistics Canada estimates there are 40,000 sign language users. So my question to you is how did you calculate the 350,000 dol-- pardon me, the 350,000 number? And given that calculation, do you disagree with some of the projections, for example, contained in the Mission Consulting report?
6724 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Well, it's a long story and it's been a long struggle with Statistics. The struggle with Statistics Canada started in 1986. In the first HAL Survey, Health and Activity Limitation Survey, the questions were astonishing, in fact. The first question, "Do you have a disability?" You need to know most deaf Canadians would answer "No" to that question. Why? The deaf community does not see themselves as disabled. They are a cultural community with their own language. They would answer "No" to that question. Therefore, the statistics are skewed. The deaf would not be included in any followup questions after that. And deaf persons may be screened out from the disability questions that ensued from that question on the Census, on the HAL Survey.
6725 Of course someone like myself understands the question and I would say "yes" and I might get screened into the questions. And I would be asked, "Can you hear in a quiet room with people you know, such as your family?" An odd question. I have no problem communicating with my family. As a deaf person how would I know if the room is quiet or noisy? That makes no sense, that question. So my question would skew -- my response, rather, would skew it and Stats Can would get the wrong impression about the deaf. It's been a struggle, as I say, since 1986. I think you can disregard Stas Can's numbers.
6726 The Canadian Association of the Deaf follows standardized traditional methods of calculating population numbers. Comparing the American statistics to Canadian, it's 1 in 10. Then we take the number from the American population numbers. So 10 percent of our population would be profoundly deaf. That's what they said in the States, it would be the same here. Our population is 35 million. Therefore, 10 percent is 350,000. That's how we get the number.
6727 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Great. Thank you.
6728 My reading of your submission, my sense was that for the most part you agreed with many of the recommendations in the Mission Consulting report save the administrative model, where your suggestions differed considerably. Given everything that's been put on the record this week, I wanted to give you an opportunity to -- I wanted to check to see whether your position stands, whether you still agree with the recommendations of Mission Consulting. Has your perspective or have your recommendations changed at all given any of the new information that we've heard this week?
6729 MR. FOLINO (interpreted): Basically the Mission Consulting report was very clear about having a third party operator through the centralized fund, that they would establish a board of directors with a third party oversight, they would set up the process for RFPs, et cetera. We do support that, that recommendation from Mission Consulting. However, you need to understand that VRS needs to open as soon as possible. It needs to get going. ASL VRS is now available. LSQ VRS should also be opened, but the number of interpreters, the needs of the LSQ community requires a continued growth and development, and that would be the same development as the ASL community. But we need to be able to give both services, open both services and through -- simultaneously through the board of directors and through the third party administrator. I have been here all week and I have heard those submissions and would support that. We're talking about the overall concept.
6730 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
6731 So let's flesh out the model you've put in your submission a little bit further because I find the model you're presenting to be fairly unique amongst the various models put in front of us and I just wanted to understand fully the relationship between the various parties in your model and who would be responsible for what.
6732 So in terms of the third party administrator, you've proposed that it be independent and that it be created by the CRTC. Can you give me a bit of detail with respect to its specific responsibilities and roles?
6733 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): The independent third party administrator would be under the CRTC because you will need to monitor the third party administrator. Functioning-wise it would be independent. It would have a board of directors representing the TSPs, the internet providers, the deaf consumers. As we said, 75 percent should be deaf on that board to make sure that the representation of the interests of all deaf Canadians is truly represented.
6734 In the Bell Canada suggestion, when it was talking about the RFPs and bids, et cetera, they had a schedule about this, it was a very basic concept and the model is the same, but it should be under the CRTC for oversight, that they be responsible to report to the CRTC.
6736 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Our model actually isn't all that unique or different. It's basically the same. We just are dropping the idea three points. There would be the CRTC and then the board, and then the third party administrator, an organization likely. We're not actually suggesting that you eliminate the board completely. If you have 75 percent deaf representation on the board and 75 percent deaf employees in the third party administering organization, that's our dream, by the way, that would be perfect and it would be ideal.
6737 But if you look at what happened in real life in the United States, some VSR providers said, sure, we'll hire deaf people, great, we'd be happy to run deaf administrators and deaf people in the organization, but in fact very few followed up. The only deaf who were hired were at a very basic entry-level position.
6738 Our goal would be to see deaf employees at the executive level, not only at the entry level basic positions. We need deaf people at the top running the VRS services. If you eliminate the board, then the third party administering organization must, I emphasize must, have deaf people, especially in the top positions. They would have no choice. Unless - unless you, the CRTC, want to hire 75 deaf people, we'd be very happy with that, but I know that's not going to happen.
6739 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. So that's very -- sorry. That's very helpful, thank you. So from what I gather from what you've just said, the existence or the nonexistence of a board isn't really the material point. The really crucial point is that you want substantial deaf participation and representation on whatever the administrative structure of this organization is?
6740 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Yes, correct.
6741 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. And the insistence upon having significant deaf or hard of hearing representation is presumably based on some frustration on your part. In your presentation this morning I noted that you used the language "oppressive to the deaf" if there wasn't substantial representation. Obviously that's very strong language. Can you give me a bit more details as to why you have this obviously very strongly held perspective on the necessity for 75 percent deaf representation? Have there been instances in the past over and above the American example where you -- where the lack of deaf representation was disadvantageous?
6742 MR. FOLINO (interpreted): I could respond to that. There are many deaf in Canada who don't have jobs at all. They have struggled and they do struggle against the barriers in their everyday life. It's a struggle to find employment, to get interpreters in medical situations. It's an everyday occurrence. But with VRS, there would be a better opportunity for employment for our deaf communities.
6743 We are -- we feel that we are -- we're marginalized and we don't have the same opportunities.
6744 Our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that we have individual rights to access and full participation in society. It's a civil right for us across Canada. We need to encourage that. With the establishment of VRS, it's as if you are giving the deaf a wonderful opportunity. We have the experience, we have the skills, we have the expertise. The only difference is that we use sign language. We need this opportunity to allow the full participation, to have an exchange of information between hearing and deaf cultures. We will learn from each other. We will be able to see each other's viewpoints. It's a learning process through this experience. We need to take advantage of this opportunity at this historic moment and you can order that to happen.
6745 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Oops, the TV is not on. Okay.
6746 It's important that you understand hearing people have an awful lot of power over the lives of deaf people. They always have. Hearing people make decisions around cochlear implants, sign language, whatever will happen for deaf children. Deaf schools, will they be mainstreamed, will they go to a deaf school? The decisions are made about our future, our language, whether we speak or whatever by hearing people those decisions are made. The deaf are disempowered.
6747 Our research shows, in terms of employment, the majority of -- the majority of deaf people find employment within the deaf community. Deaf people have very little control over our own lives in this regard and it's very frustrating. To see VRS established in Canada would be wonderful. The service would be a great benefit. And so, that's why we need deaf people running it, controlling it, in fact. We don't want hearing people to take over that part of our life as well.
6748 MR. FOLIO (interpreted): I'd like to also add, being here all this week and listening to the service providers and the telephone companies, it seemed to me that they admitted they didn't know how to provide VRS services because they are hearing. They don't need to know that.
6749 Therefore, we need to let VRS services be established and have deaf people control it to increase our community's self-esteem and to give us the power and opportunities to participate fully in society. It's a Canadian value and we want to be part of it.
6750 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much.
6751 One last question with respect to the administrative model that you referenced, and thank you for the clarification that the existence of a board of directors is not actually a deal breaker for you. It's really the deaf representation.
6752 In terms of stakeholder representation in this organization, irrespective of whether or not there is a board, which consumer or accessibility groups do you feel need to have representation in this organization? Whose views amongst the deaf community need to comprise the perspectives of this organization?
6753 MR. FOLIO (interpreted): It's not necessarily the group. It's the individual. The individual has the skills, the knowledge, the experience and for them to provide that -- at the same time VRS would be a national service. Therefore you do need to have national deaf user groups involved. I suppose it's self-serving to say that as the CAD is the national organization for the deaf consumer. I'm admitting that.
6754 However, obviously we have three -- there are actually three national groups, the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf (CSD), CAD and the Canadian Deaf Sports Association, CDSA. Interestingly, CDSA is having their AGM right here in Ottawa this weekend. Congratulations to them.
6755 All three of these organizations should be involved at the board level. We need to also have representation from the Francophone -- the Quebec deaf organizations. I would suggest you start with those and add to it individuals that are handpicked because of their expertise, as Frank said.
6756 As well to add to that, these individuals with expertise will come through the grassroots organizations that you've heard from, the Ontario group, the British Columbia group. They have become experts and they need to be included as well.
6757 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you very much. You've obviously expressed a very strong preference for 24 hours a day, seven days a week service. You've acknowledged however that if an initially-restricted schedule is necessary it should be only for during the initial research phase.
6758 I wanted confirmation from you whether you still support Mission Consulting's proposal for that initial research phase or do you -- have you changed your mind or do you have new suggestions with respect to how that research phase should function?
6759 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): Okay. We support the concept, yes, we do.
6760 But Bell Canada in their submission had a schedule of their timeline. It was a timeline. It seemed to be good except that it was a three-year extension. It was a three-year phase-in so it was 2016 before you would have full service for 24/7.
6761 We disagree with that. Deaf Canadians have waited seven years. Adding three more years to that? No. We don't want that wait.
6762 The CAD, myself personally, have been involved since 2004. In '04 we had a deaf conference in Edmonton. We decided and asked me to collect information about VRS services in the United States to bring them to the next 2005 convention.
6763 So in 2005 there was a report and the deaf community decided that we needed to have a rush on establishing VRS services in Canada.
6764 The CRTC process started in 2006. With the deferral accounting fund there was, you know, what were you going to do with that deferral accounting fund? And you had to decide how to spend it. CAD said, "Take some of that money for the VRS services".
6765 So from 2004 to now, 2013, we've been lobbying, but we haven't seen the light at the end of the tunnel yet.
6766 Bell wants to add three more years. No way. And in the Bell submission that we received this week, I agreed with Jim having heard that in person.
6767 The time needs to be shortened. Three years is way too long. In 2014-15 it will all be established. The board, the fund, et cetera can be established in a six-month period. Even a year is too long. Services can start in the year, I feel, 2014-15.
6768 Waiting to 2016 is ridiculous in fact when, it seems to us, hearing people make submissions to the CRTC and they want things, they get it a lot more quickly than we do. As you heard, there are many countries in the world who have VRS services. They are looking to Canada and saying, "What's wrong with you that you don't have VRS services?" And you have the power to order that and get it going. It should not be delayed.
6769 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you. I confess I'm somewhat confused because in your -- you're being critical of Bell's submission because it would take three years and, yet, in your presentation today you supported the phasing-in outline in the Mission Consulting Report. I think it was four or five years.
6770 So even in the Mission Consulting Report which you have openly supported, there will not be 24/7 service initially. There will be a phasing in period. So I guess can you explain to me specifically what the difference is between the Mission proposal and the Bell proposal that you have a concern with?
6771 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): To clarify, I'm not actually criticizing what Bell was suggesting. What they provided -- their ideas, their submission is fine. But what I am critical of is their timelines. I think it's too long. But overall the process, et cetera, all of the phases that Bell Canada proposes I support that. I just don't present -- I don't support their timelines. It should be shorter.
6772 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: I see. So you're saying administratively speaking it can be implemented far quicker than Bell has presented.
6773 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): Yes.
6774 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, understood.
6775 I was going to ask you about the various models that we had heard this week a little bit later in my questioning but, given that we've already discussed the Bell model, I'll ask you about a few of the other models before us.
6776 You've been very clear about the aspect of the Bell model that you have concerns with.
6777 I'll ask you about the TELUS model. It's substantially similar in the sense that VRS would be funded through a national fund managed by an independent entity and it would require contributions from TSPs based on a set percentage of their revenues.
6778 What differs in TELUS' approach, however, is that the CRTC would direct a CISC-like committee which had representation from all of the stakeholders to set up a consortium dedicated to VRS funding and administration. Then this consortium would also establish and design an RFP which we would put out for a three-year implementation period based on service parameters set by the CRTC.
6779 Do you have any comments, thoughts, perspectives on that proposal?
6780 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): Basically, we prefer to follow the recommendations in the Mission report. TELUS seems a little bit iffy, so I think we would be focusing on the Mission Consulting Report. I think there is a better chance of success.
6781 I don't have anything to add.
6782 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, thank you.
6783 Why should the initial roll-out of VRS be to multiple Canadian ASL and LSQ interpreter training programs and interpreter agencies rather than a commercial VRS provider such as, for example, Sorenson?
6784 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): There is an interpreter shortage so if you open VRS you need the interpreters obviously. There is a smaller number of interpreters. So the money needs to be directed towards the interpreter training programs.
6785 We need to get more people into the profession and that would help increase the availability of VRS services. Through the interpreter training programs they would be obviously, developing the profession to move into VRS services. Developing them at the same time, for the long term running of it, I think the best success would happen that way.
6786 I think that there are many interpreters who want to work for a Canadian VRS industry and so augmenting the VRS training programs will help encourage the increase in the profession.
6787 It would increase recruitment of students into the program to become interpreters and to then be part of the VRS industry.
6788 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. That's a fair response.
6789 But what do you say in response to Sorenson's suggestion yesterday that given that they are in operations in America, they would be able to reallocate their resources in effect to use American interpreters to supplement Canadian ones in the interim while interpreter training programs and agencies built up their basic Canadian interpreters? In that situation would you still oppose the initial participation of a commercial VRS provider?
6790 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): I don't actually oppose what Sorenson's idea was in terms of the short term using American ASL interpreters. We're talking about the short term.
6791 But at the same time we need to invest the money into our interpreter training programs to increase recruitment for Canadians to become Canadian interpreters to continue the service for the foreseeable future and into the long distance future. If that were the case then we would slowly use fewer and fewer of the American interpreters, presumably.
6792 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Yes, in theory. But does that mean you'll be open to the idea of, during the initial research phase to the participation of a commercial provider, rather than an interpreting agency or an interpreting program?
6793 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): Our goal is the establishment of VRS in Canada as quickly as possible. So we're neutral in terms of whether it would be Sorenson or other but we want the Canadian pool of interpreters to grow.
6794 As the Mission Consulting Report says, there would be a growth in the interpreting field quickly in Canada. It takes five, maybe seven years to become a truly skilled interpreter. If the CRTC agrees, okay, let's start January the 1st, 2014 with VRS services in Canada, well, obviously you might need to use Sorenson. They may be the only company able to establish the service that quickly.
6795 We wouldn't be opposed to Sorenson or any other interest -- any other company being able to do that. We would be neutral on that point because our biggest point is that we want VRS services established as quickly as possible.
6796 Of course though I would like to emphasize that our goal also is to increase the pool of Canadian interpreters. So we're not actually opposed to the business idea but we do want the pool to increase of Canadian interpreters.
6797 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Of course, thank you very much.
6798 Other than the UQAM/SIVET proposal for LSQ, what other programs and agencies do you think would be interested in providing a VRS and what if any support would they need to come up with a viable proposal? In other words, have you had discussions with other agencies or programs who have expressed interest in participating?
6799 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): It's my understanding that Mission Consulting in their research contacted every interpreter training program across Canada. They have done that. They have met with them and they seem to be quite interested in expanding and being involved.
6800 So they must be ready. They just need the investment of funds.
6801 Is that...?
6802 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Yes.
6803 Given the size of the Canadian market and the number of ASL and LSQ interpreters, is a competitive VRS relay -- pardon me -- is a competitive VRS really preferable to a single provider? What about the submission made by other parties that the duplication involved in a multiple VRS provider model would exacerbate the interpreter shortage and result in needless duplication of administrative work and costs?
6804 So fundamentally I'm asking you what system would be preferable, a single provider nationally, or between the English and French markets, or a multi-provider model?
6805 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): In the initial starting phase we would prefer one ASL and one LSQ provider as we said in our submission. We're talking about the initial start-up phase.
6806 Once it's running smoothly and there is a huge pot of money available, great. It could be open to competition then.
6807 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. I'm just going to backtrack and ask a few general questions.
6808 Do you have any information with respect to the approximate percentage of deaf or hard of hearing Canadians who are not fluent in either English or French?
6809 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): The CAD, Canadian Association of the Deaf, has done some research. It was a while ago. I think it was maybe '88-'89 around then.
6810 Our feeling is that it's possible that 65 percent of deaf Canadians have difficulty with literacy; reading and writing. I emphasize that's, you know, 25 years ago.
6811 Today I'm not sure what the situation would be but I suspect it's pretty much the same.
6812 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Thank you.
6813 I wanted to ask you about the internet package required for the use of VRS. Actually, before I ask you about the internet package, I'll ask you a question I've been asking other appearing parties this week.
6814 Some parties noted that providers required them to have both a landline and an internet package in order to access relay services today. Do you have a view on that? Should it be one or the other or is it okay to charge for both?
6815 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): VRS should be available both through the landline and internet. But what exactly do you mean in terms of paying? Could you expand on that?
6816 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Well, I was going to ask you that question. But I was -- in terms of the comment that was made earlier this week was that certain users were required to pay for a landline telephony connection with a provider and also pay for an internet package.
6817 So in essence they were expressing frustration that they had to pay for two services in order to access the existing relay services. I guess the gist of my question was: Do you think that's acceptable and if not which services should they be required to pay for?
6818 MR. FOLIO (interpreter): I'm not sure that I really understand the point you're getting at.
6819 Many deaf have decided to get rid of their telephone lines and just use the internet because of wireless capability, various devices, et cetera like Blackberries or whatever, iPhones. But they usually get that in a bundled package.
6820 That's so -- I'm not sure exactly what we pay at my house. My wife pays the bills, so I'm not quite sure what it is for us.
6821 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay, that's fine. Thanks.
6822 MR. FOLIN (interpreted): Okay. I don't have anything else to add.
6823 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: All right. Thank you.
6824 You raise a valid point about packages. I mean, once you do get into the world of packaging, it becomes a bit more difficult to break out specifically what you're paying for in what circumstance. So let's talk about packages.
6825 If an internet package which met the basic minimum speed requirements for reliable VRS quality with sufficient data was available, but the package was only available through a limited number of internet service providers, would this reduced choice be offset by the availability of a customized package?
6826 In other words, do you feel that a customized VRS package is absolutely and worth the trade-off in terms of fewer choices or do you feel, generally speaking, the internet packages offered today, irrespective of the provider, are sufficient to provide VRS service?
6827 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): I'm not a technical expert, so I don't know.
6828 When you think about what we have now compared to the old phone line system, when MRS was established, the phone companies recognized that a TTY call would be much slower, and so they had a reduced rate for deaf users. It was a 50 percent off rate on long distance calls.
6829 It has grown and it's much better than it was, so why wouldn't you have the same apply -- application in terms of internet packages and have a reduced rate for the deaf, for all deaf and hard of hearing persons who register for the service?
6830 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
6831 Just a few more questions left.
6832 Some carriers have suggested a fixed funding cap to ensure that costs for this potential model, whatever it may be, do not spiral out of control as some have argued happened in America.
6833 Would a funding cap be reasonable and, if so, what do you see as a reasonable funding cap?
6834 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): That's our Canadian way, let's cap everything.
6835 What's reasonable? I think the Mission Consulting report analyzed all of the numbers, the dollar amounts, et cetera. I think we would follow what was in the Mission Consulting report.
6836 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
6837 If a VRS provider were to be selected through a competitive RFP process, what criteria should be included in a potential RFP in terms of quality of service, in terms of hours of operation, in terms of interpreter training?
6838 What would be encapsulated in that? And I recognize it's a very broad question, so feel free to take your time or perhaps put something in writing.
6839 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): I think we would send you something to respond to those three areas, if you give us the time line. It's the 15th, isn't it?
6840 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Legal, is it the -- or --
6841 MR. FINESTONE: The final reply period is November 15th. If you're requesting an undertaking, it would be for October 31st.
6842 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Yes, that is the correct date. Thank you.
6843 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): All right.
6844 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: And just one final question.
6845 What role do you think the Canadian Association of the Deaf could play in education and outreach?
6846 MR. FOLIN (interpreted): The CAD could provide our expertise and information in terms of education. We have lots of resources, who to contact, et cetera.
6847 For example, Canadian Association of the Deaf has partnered with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to make videos in ASL and LSQ in terms of how to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to provide access to information. That is the key because, as you know, reading the written language is a challenge for the deaf.
6848 And so creating these video resources has helped in terms of education. And so we would suggest that perhaps that would be something you might want to do.
6849 We have close partnerships with the provincial organizations and grassroots organizations. And I think that they would also be able to offer their expertise.
6850 And so we could encourage that. That would be part of the outreach and education activities, we suggest.
6851 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Mr. Roots, any final comments?
6852 Okay. Thank you both for being here today.
6853 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Oh, I'm thinking. Just a minute.
6854 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Sorry.
6855 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): I'd like to respond to a couple of the suggestions that came a few days ago, the SaskTel presentation in particular, perhaps in their written comments that you received earlier, but it came up again in their presentation this week.
6856 They were talking about the future of technology.
6857 It seemed to be that their concept was that there was no point in setting up VRS because within a couple of years, it would be old technology and it wouldn't be needed. There would be new technological advances which would make it obsolete.
6858 There have been nine research studies in the world currently that have developed avatar interpreters, the automatic computer-generated interpreter. Having looked at this, I look back to when I look at the voice recognition technology. Everyone said it was going to be perfected within two or three years, but -- just a minute. I'll look at my report here in terms of what happened.
6859 In 1995, in Rochester, we were making -- we were at a conference in Rochester. And at that conference, they were talking about voice recognition technology.
6860 Who was it? The American Army Intelligence Services, the FBI, CIA, IBM, Microsoft. There were four or five government departments, the FCC.
6861 Powerful, rich corporations and government departments were incredibly enthusiastic about the emergence of voice recognition technology. They thought it was the most amazing thing.
6862 They agreed that they had to have standards for accuracy. It needed to be 98 percent accurate. Anything less would be no good. At that time, it was 94 percent accurate.
6863 We're 15 years past -- beyond that. It was 2010. In that 15-year period, the army, the government, IBM, FBI poured a lot of money into the research and development of this technology, and in 2010 it was reported what was the improvement. It was minimal. It had gone from 94 percent to 95 percent accurate.
6864 So all of that money had been spent by the army, the government, et cetera, the spy agencies in developing this, and the improvement was one percent in 15 years.
6865 So the avatar interpreter is going to go the same way. It will not become perfect in 2013. It will not become perfect 15 years from now.
6866 Are we going to hold off on VRS until you perfect that? If you are, you're going to wait forever.
6867 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
6868 Actually, I was going to ask that question, but I'm going to ask it slightly differently because I don't think -- I mean, that was SaskTel's view and you addressed that.
6869 My question is more if and when technology develops to the point where VRS communications can be individualized and doesn't require a system, would there be a way to -- how do you see people transitioning to that if that happens?
6870 And you can, if you wish, dismiss my premise and say, "It's a silly question; I've already answered it".
6871 MR. FOLIN (interpreted): Yes, I think that's what I'd say.
6872 THE CHAIRPERSON: Okay. That's good. That's the most efficient way for you to make your point.
6873 I just wanted to clarify on your numbers. You'd said your estimate of 350,000 came from 10 percent of the population with hearing loss and 10 percent of that population got to 350,000. And then when Commissioner Shoan asked you what percentage of that was sign dependent primarily, was -- let me put it this way -- struggled with the use of either English or French, you said 65 percent.
6874 So I'm drawing a conclusion from that that the -- your position is that the population of potential VRS users is more than 200,000 people.
6875 Is that correct?
6876 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Yes, it's possible. It's hard to get an exact number, but the math would be approximately right, as you pointed out.
6877 But you have to remember something else. It's not just the deaf who are going to use VRS. The hearing world will also be using VRS. Hard of hearing people may use VRS as well.
6878 The potential is the whole population of Canada will use VRS.
6879 THE CHAIRPERSON: I understand.
6880 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): In my family, for example, my mother, my sister, my brother live in other cities. They can't phone. They don't sign. They're hearing. They don't sign. So there's three people who are going to quickly start using VRS to be in touch with me.
6881 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. I understand.
6882 Commissioner Duncan has a question.
6883 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I have a question also in regard to numbers and also in regards to SaskTel.
6884 So yesterday, the -- they made the comment that there are only 320 deaf users in Saskatchewan. And I was wondering how accurate that number might be or if you have numbers that would be more indicative of the deaf and hard of hearing in -- by regions or by province.
6885 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): Not really. However, Saskatchewan as a province is quite unique. Their approach for deafness and deaf people is quite unique.
6886 Their goal seems to be to get everybody who's deaf to move out of the province. They want -- they want them to use voice, hearing, whatever. It's a policy to exclude sign language from communication.
6887 When a child is born who is deaf in Saskatchewan, a cochlear implant is the norm or they go to Alberta to go to school, to the School for the Deaf. They are sent out of the province.
6888 They do not want the deaf in Saskatchewan. It seems to be their goal. It's a unique province to not want deaf people living there, so it's not a good example to use.
6889 If you want to look across Canada, I mean, don't compare anything to Saskatchewan.
6890 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: I think what I wanted to do was to get your comment on that number because as a telecommunications service provider, they had an opposite view to the others. And so I am interested, though, you calculated your 350,000 based on 10 percent of the -- the U.S. 10 percent ratio.
6891 So can you tell me, in the U.S., are you aware, is the population of the deaf more or less evenly spread or are there concentrations across the various states?
6892 Do all states have a similar deaf population, proportionately speaking, of course?
6893 MR. ROOTS (interpreted): I'd like to leave that to the next presentation. Sonny is the expert. He's from the States.
6894 The next presentation would probably have that for you.
6895 COMMISSIONER DUNCAN: Okay. That will be fine. Thank you very much.
6896 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much.
6897 We will take a 10-minute break and come back about 11:50 or so.
--- Upon recessing at 1142
--- Upon resuming at 1152
6898 THE CHAIRPERSON: Order, please.
6899 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Sonny Access Consulting.
6900 Please introduce yourself and you have 15 minutes for your presentation. Thank you.
6901 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Hello, my name is Alfred Sonnenstrahl. I would like to thank you for inviting me here to present my oral presentation. I'm a part of the deaf community in the States. I'm an American citizen. Therefore, I'm an avid VRS user.
6902 During my time at the Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, I was intricately involved in establishing a language for the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
6903 Later on I was also involved in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) movement in establishing the Disability Rights Office. That Office (DRO) is primarily working on establishing telecommunications accessibility for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, primarily looking at relay services, captioning services as well as Next Generation 9-1-1 services.
6904 A synopsis of the history of the work that I did with these organizations can be found in a book titled, "A New Civil Right: Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans." I have this book with me today. If you have not obtained this book as one of your references, I strongly recommend that you do.
6905 The author of this book, Mrs. Karen Peitz Strauss is now actually employed as the Deputy Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the U.S. FCC.
6906 Before I start any further with my presentation, I would like to ask you a question.
6907 Are you aware of yourself as a hearing person? Are you aware that you require special devices for your hearing?
6908 I will give you an example right here, a microphone. This is a special device built and designed to meet the needs of hearing people. In this room you will notice we have a series of loudspeakers. I would term these or classify these as your hearing aids.
6909 Now, let's turn our attention to people who use their eyes to hear. We use text, captioning, video. Just as you rely on audio and spoken language, we rely on visual language.
6910 I agree with most of the comments and responses and suggestions made by the interventions submitted this week. I'm going to speak to a number of the issues that have come up.
6911 1. Describe the potential social and economic benefits of VRS.
6912 Now, before I elaborate on that, I would like to turn and ask you a question. What are the social and economic benefits of voice telephone services currently in place for hearing people?
6913 Clearly, if we were without telephone services, that would have a negative impact on the social and economic benefits for hearing people. That is what's currently being experienced by people who use their eyes for communication.
6914 In the United States the VRS services have been in operation for the past 10 years. It has not only benefited deaf people, it has benefited hearing people as well. I'll give you a couple of examples.
6915 A real estate agent in the United States earned a very large commission in the closing of a deal selling a house to a deaf client. Likewise, a hearing contractor was able to secure a contract to a deaf consumer. And then again, a hearing airline agent representative was able to sell tickets for a trip to a deaf individual.
6916 2. Is VRS the best available means to meet the telecommunications needs of people with hearing disabilities?
6917 It has been said by a number of individuals here this week that the message relay service is cumbersome, it is slow and it is not meeting the needs of deaf nor hearing people. Hearing people would appreciate video relay service and its fluid and quick service just as deaf people would.
6918 3. Under what circumstances would VRS be used?
6919 Again, I ask you a question. Under what circumstances would video telephones for hearing people be used? Again, I would not have to elaborate on that because I believe you would be able to find the answers yourselves.
6920 4. How should the VRS be funded?
6921 The funding mechanism in the United States has been very successful. What that looks like is that the FCC empowers the Telecommunications Relay Service Administrator to develop a budget and create a percentage fee based on the total revenues of all telecommunications companies. This would include the TSPs, wireless service providers, cable/Internet service providers, and that would be divided by the cost of providing the service. So it is based on a percentage fee formula in order to secure the funds, in order to provide video relay services.
6922 I realize that some TSPs are not interested in providing VRS services. However, I would like to remind you that currently the services provided by the telecommunications industry, the existing programs are actually completely oriented to hearing individuals.
6923 As somebody mentioned yesterday, deaf consumers are having to pay Internet fees. However, not everything on the Internet is captioned, it is not fully accessible. So therefore, in my view, we're paying more than what we actually can access.
6924 In terms of the mobile phone, for example, and the voice plan, we don't actually use a voice plan although we are required to pay the same cost.
6925 Another example I might offer you is when I buy a television. It is designed with speakers. So that hardware is useless to me. However, I must pay for that hardware in the television.
6926 5. How should VRS be implemented so as to minimize the impact on community interpreting?
6927 I must say to the Commission that I commend you for even considering and looking at that question. However, I would like to urge you to just focus on the topic at hand, which is to look at VRS services only at this point.
6928 There are a number of different ways to be able to build a relay service. It will create more job opportunities for interpreters. It will enhance individuals' interest in becoming interpreters and entice them to take the training. Just as somebody explained yesterday, the famous quote from the movie, "If you build it, they will come," and I support that.
6929 So now, how do we get started? Yesterday evening I met with about 50 deaf Canadians. I asked them a simple question: Do you want a 24/7 service with longer wait times if that's what that means or a limited service with shorter wait times? And the answer across the board was a 24/7 service with 9-1-1 accessibility.
6930 So we are in agreement that longer wait times would be agreeable for 24-hour service. However, we would expect that in time that wait time would decrease and that when 9-1-1 calls come in that they would be cued in priority.
6931 6. Technology.
6932 In terms of VRS technology we expect it to be both interoperable and interexchangeable. I agree with establishing one platform as a reference for VRS services that would enable various different vendors or providers to connect to that platform in order to provide the VRS service.
6933 That platform also has to be able to allow for 9-1-1 emergency calls to come through. If 9-1-1 emergency calls are able to be made by hearing people, as such, it should be for deaf people.
6934 7. What kind of outreach should be available?
6935 I suggest two different outreach programs:
6936 - one originating with the VRS providers, allowing them to market and promote their services and technology and their products;
6937 - another which would be impartial. It would be a generic education program that could focus on explaining the VRS service to deaf children. It would take place in vocational rehab centres, so it would be a non-biased educational program.
6938 8. What would be the optimal VRS provider compensation model to prevent fraud?
6939 The CRTC has an excellent opportunity here to be proactive versus reactive. If you look to our neighbours in the States, they're learning from their mistakes and they're being reactive in preventing fraud.
6940 You're able to look at the order that the FCC has now issued at this website, which is www.fcc.gov/guides/vrs-reform. This document has more information about this VRS reform. I have a copy of the guide here. If you would like to take a look, I would be happy to share it with you for those of you that have not obtained it as of yet.
6941 I will give you an idea, though, of the salient points in this document.
6942 The requirement has been three-pointed:
6943 - all VRS providers are to be certified by the FCC;
6944 - all interpreters are employees of certified providers; and
6945 - all interpreters are being paid based on hourly, daily, weekly or annual rates. They are not being paid on a per minute basis. From what we can tell, in the United States the per minute compensation model has been subjected to abuse.
6946 9. Should there be a single VRS provider?
6947 I believe that competition enhances quality and cost-effectiveness. So therefore, I support multi-VRS providers. In the United States, if a consumer is making a call and there is a long wait time, we are empowered to then switch to another VRS provider in order to place our call. Sometimes you can face lack of a quality of interpreter in a particular interpreter operator. Therefore, we are able to switch providers.
6948 I feel that is very important and it is a luxury and a convenience that hearing people are able to have when they make their call or have their own service providers.
6949 Before I close, I would like to summarize my key issues:
6950 a. VRS is a utility. It is neither a social service nor outside of telecommunications service scope.
6951 b. Secondly, VRS costs should be recovered by all telecommunications service providers, meaning that VRS costs should be part of all telecommunications service providers.
6952 c. Message relay services should be maintained. They are not to be replaced by video relay services because deaf-blind people rely on TeleBraille and other Braille communication services provided by the telephone lines.
6953 d. The Commission should create an office similar to the Disability Rights Office of the FCC.
6954 And lastly, on the boards that are going to be created, the boards, the committees and the councils, the input and the participation needs to come from VRS users. They can be deaf or hearing people. These individuals are the ones most familiar with VRS phoning.
6955 Thank you very much for allowing me to have my presentation today. I am ready for your assault with questions.
6956 THE CHAIRPERSON: The assault will come from Commissioner Simpson.
6957 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Well, given that Mr. Sonnenstrahl is an American citizen, I don't want to start a cross-border war and I won't. I would like instead to say that I'm very, very appreciative that he's made the effort to come to this hearing and bring us the benefit of all of his experience, particular experience on our side of the fence, which is the regulatory world.
6958 Mr. Sonnenstrahl, my first question is one of my own curiosity and it has to do with the Disability Act in the United States that was created in 1990, that you participated in.
6959 Was the need for this Act the result of any oversight or omission in the basic Constitution of your country?
6960 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): In terms of general terminology, we have different definitions of the Constitution. The Constitution itself was -- the Rehabilitation Act was established in 1973 and that mandated equal access with no discrimination based on an individual's civil rights, but that primarily was pertaining to black people in the community. However, that then stemmed to the development of the ADA as then we expanded on that point to be relevant to deaf people and disability people.
6961 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Within the FCC -- my question is a regulatory one. I don't normally have an opportunity to ask questions of a former regulator.
6962 But in our world in the CRTC we have our Telecommunications and Broadcast Acts and certain rights are built into our Telecom Act and serve as the enabling legislation that guides us in our decisions.
6963 In the FCC's world does the Telecommunication Act serve as and provide guiding principles for disabilities or do you have to rely more on the Disabilities Act itself?
6964 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Well, I would say that the ADA has various articles to it and one of them is pertaining to relay services and it says that all telecommunication companies -- carriers, have the responsibility to provide relay services and that all the costs of providing those services are recoverable. So then, therefore, they gave the responsibility to enforce that to the FCC. However, that was in 1990, which was prior to the establishment of the Internet and wireless communications. So as a result of that technological development, we had to set up the Communication and Visual Accessibility Act, so then that new Act includes wireless and Internet. So then therefore that was an update to its predecessor, the ADA.
6965 Does that answer your question?
6966 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does; thank you very much.
6967 Now to the business at hand. The first question I have is, in the U.S. VRS experience, when it first introduced VRS was it a phased-in approach and, if not, could you describe what day one was offering in terms of number of hours served and how the rollout basically looked, because I don't have that information.
6968 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): I'm just waiting for the video.
6969 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): I think it was around 2001 or 2002 when a deaf person invented a Webcam that was used on the top of a desktop computer. The FCC recognized that, but realized at that time that the number of minutes were really small. It ended up to be about $17 per minute.
6970 However, what happened was more and more companies then got involved so the cost per minute went drastically down. At that time the number of interpreters was not enough, there was not enough interpreters available at that time, so the wait time was considered really long. So then the minutes went up. The number of interpreters were low, so therefore the wait time went up. The wait time could be around four hours.
6971 So at that time, then, they invented -- they created a system called "The Callback" so that when the individual or the caller coming in -- they were able to be called back instead of waiting on the phone to place their call. But the general population did not like that approach because sometimes it would be four hours later that they would call us back and they could call us back at 2 o'clock in the morning. And as I was sleeping you can imagine, my lights would start to go off, it was telling me that my phone was ringing and I would get woken up out of bed. I mean who wants to make a call at that time in the morning?
6972 So then at a consequence of that the FCC set up a schedule. They set up a limit of the wait time to be 3 minutes, which then forced all the providers to adhere to that and so all the providers managed what resources they had to manage in order to make that happen.
6973 I think currently the wait time now has gone down to about 30 seconds and so there has been that gradual decrease in the wait time.
6974 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: So from this description I gather that you are saying that VRS really grew organically and the FCC were coming in an a post-growth scenario and trying to better manage the outcome and that's where you are. And that's probably why there were growing pains, as we have heard. Okay.
6975 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Yes. I agree to that, yes.
6976 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I would like to ask you from your experience more about the statement you made regarding your concern over a single provider versus there being a competitive provider environment.
6977 You indicate that a dominant provider, such as seems to be the case in the United States, has brought about issues of interoperability and connectivity and you imply that a greater number of competitors helps solve that problem.
6978 Is that a correct statement? There are those --
6979 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): We are just waiting for the video.
6980 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I'm sorry?
6981 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): We are just waiting for the video.
6982 The response is yes, 100 percent.
6983 I feel strongly that if you have one provider I believe the quality of the interpreter operators that you have working for them will go down. A company is ultimately going to try and find a way to cut costs, because they are at fear of losing their client and customer base, so they will hire less qualified interpreters, they will cut corners, they will pay them less.
6984 And who is going to suffer is not only the deaf VRS users but, like I was saying, the hearing VRS users. It's a lose-lose situation if we go with that approach.
6985 A competitive market keeps everyone honest and that is the win-win situation that we could have here in Canada in creating a VRS service network.
6986 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: But it has my impression from presentations we have had that a multiple provider scenario brings about difficulties with incompatibilities of platforms and also protocols.
6987 Could you tell me, in a very brief general way, what the FCC did to ensure that there was consistency between the competitors in terms of operating protocols?
6988 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): That's a very good question.
6989 In the United States we started with a monopoly approach, there was one company with deep pockets who provided the free videophones to its consumers and it wasn't interoperable and it wasn't inter-exchangeable and it wasn't inter-connectable between phones, the various kinds of videophones and devices.
6990 What it did is, it ultimately created isolation and loyalties, so pockets of a group of people subscribing to one company. So then, consequently, each provider had to have its own platform because they had to be able to create a platform so that all the interoperable phones would be able to call each other.
6991 So what the FCC did was created this -- issued this Order which I have here in front of me. It said enough of the different platforms and this interoperability, inter-exchangeability, we are going to have one platform that would be compatible with various devices that are available to consumers in the marketplace. That way it would allow us to pick the company and the brand of devices we are most comfortable with and we would like to use.
6992 Oh, I also might add that this one single platform also has to then be compatible with the NG9-1-1 service.
6993 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. I'm learning to wait before jumping in with my next question.
6994 You have a considerable amount of experience in having dealt with the technical challenges of VRS to 9-1-1 PSAP communications for VRS and there are a number of challenges that we are encountering in Canada because there are a great many standards that are applied across the country.
6995 From your experience, what solutions do you propose to resolve these challenges that we have in Canada with different protocols of PSAP's, different technologies? Is this consistent with what you first discovered in the United States with your experience?
6996 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Oh, that was a quicker wait time to get my face up on the screen. Wonders. Wonderful. Someone is sensitive to our needs; excellent.
6997 To answer your question, I'm not a technician, this would not be my area of skills and expertise, so I wouldn't have all the technical details around that, but what I can tell you is that the way to go is setting up one platform with a common reference for providing VRS services. So that way all the devices, all the video devices that are out there, would be compatible.
6998 That is the approach that the FCC is going with now it seems and that is what the U.S. is starting to do post their learning experience.
6999 So it's the inter-compatibility. So I would strongly encourage you to do that. That seems to be the most effective and less headached approach.
7000 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
7001 You were very eloquent in your written submission regarding education and outreach and general consumer acceptance of VRS and you illustrated that it's really a two-part program.
7002 What are some of the major considerations that we should, as a Commission, be contemplating in outreach and education? Perhaps you could touch on where we would place some of those responsibilities within the VRS network that we are looking at?
7003 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Well, like I mentioned in my oral presentation, there are two programs for outreach.
7004 One would be the responsibility of the VRS service provider themselves to market their products and services for -- market their products services for their clientele or their consumer base.
7005 The second one would be a more generic educational program in order to teach the population how to use video relay services, how -- they could teach hearing people how to get in touch and to call deaf people. You can educate healthcare professionals like dentists and nurses about how to get in touch with their deaf clients; you can educate hearing people who have deaf children in school and their school on how to get in touch with the parents of their deaf child that is attending their school.
7006 I will give you a personal experience that I have had. My father was in the hospital and I was attempting to get hold of somebody at the hospital in order to get an update about him, so through the video relay services we were able to do that.
7007 Another option would be deaf individuals calling the bank. Oftentimes the bank staff are at a loss to say, "What is going on here? What is the video relay service and who is talking to me and how is this working?" So I think that generic educational program needs to exist to touch the larger population of people.
7008 Does that answer your question?
7009 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: It does, thank you.
7010 My last question is tied to the consumer education component and it has to do with data we had been seeing from the VRS trial that we had conducted here in Canada regarding point-to-point calling. It was showing us -- and it seems to have been confirmed by other questions to other interveners -- that about 75 percent of the calls generated on a VRS system are point-to-point.
7011 My question is this: In the experience of the United States, as VRS became more accepted and understood, did that percentage increase and within the point-to-point calling did it increase in the number of those point-to-point calls being made between a deaf person and a hearing person?
7012 I'm just interested if consumer acceptance caused point-to-point calling to increase between deaf and non-deaf callers.
7013 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): I'm attempting to remember the numbers correctly that I have, but in terms of point-to-point calls versus using VRS calls, it depends highly on the situation. Deaf professionals, I would say, would use VRS services more than, let's say, the grassroots deaf individuals. They would primarily may be use more so the point-to-point.
7014 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
7015 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): However, when a deaf person would like to contact a hearing person, they would use VRS.
7016 There is a deaf dentist, however -- so a medical professional who is deaf in the United States -- and this particular individual has to use VRS services quite often in their daily work in order to contact his patients.
7017 I also know a deaf financial planner who does have quite a number of hearing clients. So then again, in his daily line of work he would use video relay services.
7018 So I guess I would say that it depends on their employment or their field. Some individuals would rely more heavily on VRS and others might rely more on the point-to-point services that it can provide.
7019 In Washington, D.C. there are many deaf professionals, so in that particular province in that State I would say that they use VRS quite heavily there, versus in the west there is a lot more agricultural professionals. But I would say, all in all, that the number of hearing people is increasing in terms of their use of the video relay services.
7020 In the beginning of the deployment of VRS services in the States we had to educate them quite a bit, but most hearing people, I would say, or the average hearing person now in the United States is aware of the service, so you have to understand that it takes quite a number of years to get that education out to the general mainstream population. Maybe after 10 years I guess I could say that hearing people might be slow learners.
7021 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: I think those are my questions.
7022 I again want to thank you very much for the effort you have made to come up here and provide us with some very, very useful and very instructive information; thank you.
7023 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation and for answering our questions. We have no more questions and you are free to leave.
7024 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Thank you very much.
7025 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask Mr. Joe McLaughlin to come to the presentation table.
7026 MR. SONNENSTRAHL (interpreted): Would you like to see the copy of the guidelines or the Order that was established by the FCC?
7027 Would that be of use to you, Commissioners?
7028 THE CHAIRPERSON: I think we have that.
7029 THE SECRETARY: We will now hear the presentation of Mr. Joe McLaughlin. You have 15 minutes to make your presentation. Thank you.
7030 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Thank you, Madam Secretary and commissioners.
7031 I have my own business. It is McLaughlin Educational Consulting Services. I am Dr. Joe McLaughlin.
7032 I'd like to give you a bit of background about who I am. I have 30 years of experience teaching, researching, and a senior executive managerial position on the municipal, provincial, and international level, as well as the federal level.
7033 I have my doctorate in Higher Education from Alliant International University in San Francisco.
7034 I have been appointed to -- as a public board member for the College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals in BC. I have been appointed to the Minister's Council on Employment and Accessibility, and the Expert Panel for Specialized Populations.
7035 I am currently the interim Executive Director of the Connect Society in Edmonton.
7036 I would like to compare the 2008 situation hearings to now, 2013.
7037 In 2008 there were 37 interventions at your hearing. There were only a few deaf presenters.
7038 First, I would like to apologize. I guess I assumed you had made some decisions to have that trial; however, it was -- I had said something to you in a letter that I had originally sent to you; however, now I understand it was Telus who had made the proposal to have the trial.
7039 I wondered if there had been any deaf community involvement in what would happen in terms of that survey. I doubt it because there was such a low number of interventions from deaf people. In 2008 I wonder how transparent it was. Perhaps deaf people across Canada had very little idea that this was happening. Let us compare that to 2013.
7040 3,376 interventions compared to 37. What a big increase that has been. A 95 percent increase.
7041 The first time as well that the CRTC has allowed ASL and LSQ video presentations, and you need to be commended for your outreach to the deaf and hard of hearing communities across Canada in order to hear from them.
7042 I read all of those interventions and there was 95 percent support for the national funding model, the centralized fund.
7043 I also had an opportunity to look back at the CRTC hearings and there was one on wireless services. There was a hearing on that. It seemed there were about 5,000 interventions on that issue. So we're having over 3,000 about VRS. But you think about wireless, everybody is affected practically by wireless. VRS and the deaf community is a very small group of people. So comparing the number of interventions, it's really a staggering number.
7044 I was part of the trial as a VRS customer. Telus announced in the initial phase for the trial and let the deaf community know that they had to have Telus internet in order to be part of the VRS group. So I had to transfer from Shaw, my provider, to Telus. It was costly to disconnect and connect to Telus. At the end of the trial period I had to pay again to go back and reconnect with Shaw internet services. I hope that that would never happen again in the future.
7045 As well, as a professional I have served on government committees. I attend meetings and there are many phone conferences with every committee. We take turns leading meetings and organizing meetings. During the VSR trial I was finally able to be a fully participant member in the phone meetings. It's impossible to do that, impossible to have a phone meeting through the TTY.
7046 At that time I was a fully equally participating member with equal responsibilities to all committee members. I was the chairperson of a committee and I felt that it was the first time, and it was in fact, that I could lead a telephone conference call through the VRS. These would last up two and a half hours. After these meetings other members could call me at any time through VRS and it was apparent that everybody was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to use VRS. VRS allowed me to be equal to these hearing professionals on our committees. As I said, hearing people said VRS is very good and that it was much easier to use than the message relay services.
7047 On a personal note, I have three sons and I am able to phone them more quickly and have father and son conversations in VRS. I would never think to use TTY for that.
7048 VRS helps me to remove barriers. I believe it is barrier-free communication. I believe all deaf and hard of hearing people, Canadians, deserve that opportunity.
7049 I would like to tell you that one of the very, very difficult barriers that I have experienced with VRS is what we might call third party calls. They will not accept a call from me through VRS. Companies such as calling Shaw, Telus, my credit card company, the bank, CRA, pension, government, natural gas companies, City Hall business, no matter what you explain to them, they will not accept a call through VRS. And I think that you should pay a bit of attention to that issue because it's a big issue for us.
7050 I have heard you this week express your concern about wait times. I find it rather ironic. If I'm calling customer service, I might wait 30 minutes, an hour or whatever, I might be waiting for them. So why are you concerned about us waiting on wait times? It happens all the time in private business. Yes, the company can call back, but it's impossible to give them two phone numbers. You always are limited to providing one phone number.
7051 When the trial was over, I was no longer able to continue my tasks because the message relay services could not handle the flow of a teleconference call and meet the new phone system phone trees. You know where it says -- you phone and it says if you want this, choose this; if you want this, choose that, whatever. Message relay can't handle that.
7052 In fact, I felt it was cruel and unusual punishment to take away my equal rights and my accessibility for anyone who was on the trial. Do not do a trial basis with any other groups in the future no matter what the issue.
7053 When you watched the BCVRS DVD yesterday, it was a very powerful video. Deaf people felt very emotionally touched by that video.
7054 I have been here all week. I have been observing and I see that five TSPs were here, that this -- oh. Sorry, excuse me for a second. -- there were five TSPs, one interpreter association, five businesses, 10 deaf organizations, and some individuals, but there was not much representative from the business sector, such as the wireless mobile companies. Fido wasn't here, Wind wasn't here. As well, we had no representation from the public sector. What was missing was the public sector input from our government.
7055 During this week I have picked up on some of the issues where some of the information was not quite correct and I'd like to share this with you.
7056 In terms of the Telecommunication Act, is this transparent for the deaf and hard of hearing community? Was there input from them on this Act? I can give you an example. Here's my iPad or any equipment like that. If I decide to download an app, say it's a TV program, through my Shaw provider, if you have missed the program, you or I at home, you can download it the next day into your app and you can watch yesterday's program today. You as a hearing person click on it, you watch the program and you hear it. But when I watch it on the app, the captions have been removed. They're not there. Is that fair? Were you even aware of that? Would you watch it if you couldn't hear it?
7057 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as CAD mentioned it this morning, but I would like to briefly mention a couple of things about it. Technical businesses and TSPs should be a partner with the deaf community. Another example, if there is -- there should be deaf people and hard of hearing people speaking for the deaf and hard of hearing community. That fits with Article 4. But if you have a hearing person, it doesn't fit that they would be speaking for us.
7058 In terms of social justice, I wrote that in my letter to you and I would like to emphasize that. For full and equal participation in all groups in a society that is mutually shaped and meets their needs, we have a vision of a society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure.
7059 In terms of mentioning civil rights, this depends on the accessibility, to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing consumers have equitable access to equitable services.
7060 Now, I have also heard about a cap. If you decide to cap the service and the money runs out, are you going to suspend VRS and say, okay, just hang on, next year you can place your call? Is that social justice?
7061 THE SECRETARY: I'm sorry, please conclude. You have two minutes left.
7062 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Okay. Thank you very much.
7063 You could have VRS booths in airports, buses, rail stations, government, City Hall, malls. People would see them and they would become aware of it, and it would become more widespread for hearing people to use VRS.
7064 The shortage of sign language interpreters has been mentioned. In my doctoral dissertation that was my topic, and it is not a new issue. We've had the same issue for 50 years. We've heard it many times. We know about it, so it's nothing new to us.
7065 I think that there will be a shortage as well of spoken language interpreters in the next few years. The United Nations has mentioned that and the EU has mentioned that, and perhaps we'll be meeting the same difficulty that we're talking about with sign language interpreters and the hearing interpreters.
7066 When you talked about the ITP community interpreting services, that we might get funding from both the federal and the provincial government, the money comes from the federal level to the provincial level, so there needs to be some accomodation, there needs to be some deep discussion and coordination between those two levels of government. In terms of functionally equivalent communication, you need to be able to call anytime. You don't need to wait. You shouldn't have to wait anymore, three weeks, to get an interpreter.
7067 I was at a meeting once, about a month ago, and by the time we got to noon hour the interpreter who was on -- in place had to leave and the second interpreter couldn't come, and so we used FaceTime. So the second interpreter from a remote location was able to finish my meeting because the first interpreter had to leave. So I was able to watch it on FaceTime on my iPad. It's the same idea as VRS and I support that idea.
7068 The average reading level of deaf adults, Gallaudet University research reported that high school graduates have a grade 4 reading level at 18 years of age. And I emphasize that the message relay system is a printed English language, so a grade 4 level isn't going to be much good.
7069 I'm just going to look ahead here.
7070 THE CHAIRPERSON: Mr. McLaughlin, I'm going to have to ask you to conclude to be fair to the others.
7071 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): In closing then, I would like to thank Jade Roy for her amazing work in helping us deaf presenters in our work here, in our presentations. I would like to thank the ASL and LSQ interpreters and the technicians for their wonderful work for us. I'd like to also thank you for the opportunity by hosting this wonderful meeting. Thank you.
7072 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Shoan has questions for you.
7073 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Good afternoon. Thank you for being here.
7074 I have a few questions based on your experience, your educational experience and obviously your professional experience.
7075 Given your background in education, what are your views on education and outreach in the instance VRS were to be implemented? What are the biggest barriers to VRS adoption and how do you propose they could be adequately removed or addressed?
7076 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): You mean the barriers in VRS?
7077 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Not necessarily VRS but in terms of once the service is in a stage where it begins to be offered, how can we make the deaf and hard of hearing community aware of it, learn to use its various functions, increase -- essentially make it used ubiquitously by the deaf and hard of hearing community.
7078 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Outreach and education for the deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing is very necessary. It will be a new kind of service. And so, that would be the first step obviously, to establish that there's a need. Having hands-on training, having trials, workshops so that people can see what the ease of communication is through this technology. And it's like you've experienced when you're saying things and you've had to stop and wait for a few seconds while the interpreters caught up, and so we'd have to teach the same sort of things to the community.
7079 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Have you -- did you have a chance to read the Mission Consulting report that forms part of the record of this proceeding?
7080 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Yes. I didn't read it in -- every page. I touched on many areas of it, but was there an area you would like to discuss?
7081 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: With respect to outreach and education, I believe it -- the suggestion was that it stay with the third party administrator and that the VRS provider have a role in conducting outreach and education. Do you think that's properly the role of the VRS provider or providers, or that the third party administrator, if one should be created, should be primarily responsible for outreach and education?
7082 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Well, it would be better with a third party group, not the provider. And why I say that is because they would be more neutral, they would not have a bias. Whereas a VRS provider would have a bias. So I think that the third party administrator would be better in terms of the education and would be able to outline the choices in a more neutral way.
7083 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. Thank you.
7084 I'm very interested to hear that you were an active participant in the Telus trial. Can you tell me about your experience using the Sorenson video phone? Did you find it to be effective? Do you think it's an ideal way to provide VRS?
7085 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Well, we only had Sorenson, so I don't know about any other video phones. It was good. It was good quality, yeah.
7086 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: There has been some conversations, some exchanges this week with respect to a potential VRS platform. In your view should there be one common platform for use with respect to VRS in Canada, or do you feel there could be multiple platforms but interoperability mandated?
7087 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): Personally I believe deaf people should have a choice of what device they want to use, that they must work together with the one platform. There must be interoperability.
7088 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay.
7089 MR. McLAUGHLIN (interpreted): That's crucial. They must work together.
7090 COMMISSIONER SHOAN: Okay. That's great. Thank you very much for your time. Those are my questions.
7091 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation.
7092 We will now adjourn for lunch and return at 1:45.
--- Upon recessing at 1300
--- Upon resuming at 1346
7093 The CHAIRPERSON:: Order, please.
7094 THE SECRETARY: Can you see that?
7095 We will now hear the presentation of Mr. Wayne Sinclair, who is appearing by videoconference from our office in Vancouver. You have 20 minutes for your presentation.
7096 Thank you.
7097 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): Thank you for the invitation to speak to you about the feasibility of establishing a video relay service. My name is Wayne Sinclair and I live in the Vancouver area.
7098 I am a deaf consumer, a deaf retiree, and a deaf advocate. I have spent more than half of my life in the United States where I was involved with schools for the deaf as a teacher and as an administrator.
7099 I was also involved -- I worked with several state associations of the deaf to promote a better life quality for all deaf citizens. I have two hearing children. Now, they are adults, and my parents were hearing. I grew up in Vancouver.
7100 Anyway, I am not going to refer much to the letter I submitted to the CRTC last spring. Instead, I am going to take you all with me on a spaceship trip to an imaginary planet. This planet is called Eyeth, E-y-e-t-h. The characteristics of Eyeth are similar to earth. We have land, oceans and atmosphere. They are identical to earth. Human beings live on Eyeth as we do here on earth.
7101 However, most people on Eyeth are deaf. There are only one or two hearing people for every 1,000 deaf citizens, just like the opposite is true on Earth. We -- and by we, I mean, the deaf people -- call these hearing people on Eyeth deaf impaired. We call them deaf impaired because they don't think, communicate or act like us deaf people. These deaf impaired people have been restricted in their daily lives.
7102 We don't let them drive automobiles because we feel that their hearing will interfere their visual concentration to driving.
7103 Thanks to the absence of our hearing, we are more able to use our vision. We assume lot of justification that the deaf impaired people's use of their sights is dulled and interfered with by their hearing. They rely too much on their hearing and that's quite sad. Because of this their occupational opportunities are necessarily limited. We do not allow them to work at sawmills, highway construction, newsrooms and automobile assembly lines, for example. That's too advanced for them. We would never allow them to fly airplanes. We fear that the noises from those places and airplanes would greatly affect their sight uses.
7104 The most common occupations they have require working overnight in office buildings. Maybe they could wash and wax floors manually, dust furniture. Maybe they could sometimes monitor surveillance videos and patrol the hallways. I mean, after all that would be a very safe and quiet environment for them.
7105 Their unemployment and underemployment rate generally exceeds 60 percent. Of the unemployment rate ours is less than 7 percent.
7106 In spite of our efforts to help them to act and think like us, they still want to use their voices and hearing to communicate. That is why the B.C. Ministry of Education on the planet Eyeth, they declared that deaf impaired children are too difficult to teach.
7107 They are resentful of the 1880 resolutions that the educators of the hearing in a convention in Milan, Italy, made to ban the use of voices and hearing in schools for the hearing around the world.
7108 Regardless of those resolutions, those deaf impaired people continue to make strange arguments that they feel most comfortable using their mouths and ears to communicate. They say that it's far better to use hands to communicate and us deaf people feel that it's much better to use our hands for communication. It's easier to look at. It's a pleasure to our vision.
7109 We feel exasperated because the deaf impaired people continue to question our decisions. They make us feel uncomfortable. Now they want VRS. The deaf impaired people want VRS which they are calling vocalized relay service. Why can they not be comfortable with IP relay or TTY relay services? They can type and therefore they can use these two relay services. Why VRS? Are they getting too much barley?
7110 Now, all of you in Gatineau will probably see that the division between the majority and the minority on Eyeth continues. The same is true here on earth.
7111 The problem is that the majority gets to make decisions without involving the minority in the decision-making process.
7112 The decisions are continually made by the majority on Eyeth which is causing resentment among the deaf impaired about their limits in all aspects of their everyday lives.
7113 They do not get to help make decisions. They feel insulted that they are not allowed to drive or fly. They are not allowed to work at sawmills. Government decisions including the Ministry of Highways, the Workman Compensation Board, and even the Ministry of Education have made decisions that have had harmful effects on the minority. The deaf impaired people were not involved in those decisions.
7114 And if we come back from our trip to earth (sic), here on earth we see that the hearing people can do a lot. They can drive, they can fly, they can work at sawmills. They can communicate well with their mouths and ears! Wow!
7115 If there was such a planet somewhere in the universe called Eyeth, I'm sure that the hearing majority on earth would be impressed by what the deaf people can do.
7116 Here on earth us deaf people have been subjected to those same restrictions. We cannot access certain jobs. The Ministry of Education in British Columbia on our own planet has implied that deaf children are too difficult to teach. And I did explain the Milan restrictions or resolutions, and on and on. But what they don't seem to understand is that we can do a lot.
7117 Enough said. I have some suggestions to deal with these decisions. My hope is to suggest a way to build a bridge between the two fantastic, unique peoples, the hearing and the deaf.
7118 Both of us work together, learn together. And I propose we do this by starting with yourselves, with the CRTC.
7119 Get a deaf person -- a deaf person in a key position within the CRTC. This person can assist in making decisions based on the best interest of deaf citizens and Canadian society.
7120 Also, there should be a group of deaf people and potential VRS users who are hearing people along with some of the CRTC staff to develop a criteria for VRS vendors so that they may be able to get licensed to operate VRS programs.
7121 By the way, I am in favour of competition among Canadian VRS vendors, which should be run by deaf businesspeople, Canadian deaf businesspeople. Together we can begin a VRS program with less than six months. It's possible. It can be done.
7122 Here on earth our unemployment and underemployment rates among the deaf exceeds 60 percent. My suggestion is that the CRTC work together with the Canadian Association of the Deaf to launch a public awareness programme to familiarize society with VRS as well as seeing what the benefits of a VRS can bring to both hearing and deaf persons to support our Canadian economy.
7123 I used to live in Maryland maybe 20 to 30 years ago. Maryland has a lot of awareness of services for the deaf, TTY services, relay services.
7124 I remember having gone to different businesses on more than once occasion and I would say, "Oh, you'll need to call me" and they would say "Oh, I will call you back through the TTY relay service. I didn't even say anything about it. They just knew. I was very impressed. I felt so included and that was nice.
7125 IP -- different relay companies, internet providers for example, could offer more employment especially at the decision-making level to the deaf. That way they could provide more accessible, friendly service if you will, to the deaf people as well as hearing people.
7126 In conclusion, you can probably tell the biggest problem here promoting inclusivity. We do not see that happening. I think that VRS is an excellent first step towards the harmony of that inclusivity that we are lacking. It will free both sides to communicate easily so that we will have freer, easier communication.
7127 Thank you for letting me speak with all of you.
7128 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you. Commissioner Simpson has some questions for you.
7129 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Hello, Mr. Sinclair. I very much enjoyed your analogy with your space ship and planet Eyeth. I think it tells me an awful lot about how much fun it must have been to be in your classroom as a student.
7130 I have a few questions for you and I'd like to tap into your background as an educator. I'd like to tap into your experience in the United States. You referenced Maryland. I'd like to also tap into your perspectives as a user of interpretive services and potentially VRS in Canada.
7131 First off, as an educator it's been said by testimony this morning from another gentleman from Sonny Communications, who I believe you may know, that communication is a two-pronged effort, one to the VRS user community and the other probably equally important to the hearing community to make them aware of the existence of VRS as a tool by which they can communicate with the deaf community.
7132 You told us a little bit about the importance of education but do you have any thoughts as to what the program itself might look like to these two communities in terms of the types of the message and the types of mediums that we use to communicate awareness for the program?
7133 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): If I understand you correctly, you want to know more about what we would be doing in terms of public awareness?
7134 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes, what -- we heard that we must consider that there are two audiences for the message, awareness for the service to the VRS user community and a message that should also be directed to the hearing community that would let them know that the service is up and running and available to them as a utility to talk to the deaf community as a bridge.
7135 So as an educator put your hat on and tell me how you would do it.
7136 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): Sure. Well, I've been retired for a long time so I'm a little rusty on my curriculum.
7137 But what I would say is that when you think about media for example, I know that technology has improved greatly since I've left the field of teaching.
7138 But I would say that you would use regular media, show people sitting in their living room or in places of business being on the phone, kind of you know film them. You would have video clips just having a conversation. And then at the very end towards -- you know, maybe you have a 36 advert or a 30-minute advert that you're showing that you would show a deaf person making a phone call through a video phone, right?
7139 So I mean just to bridge that what is happening is that a deaf person can communicate equally as a hearing person.
7140 And when you mentioned the fact of me being a teacher of deaf children I couldn't help but think, as I reflected, I never used interpreters when I was teaching deaf children ever. It was just directly teaching from me to them. There was no use for interpreters during my career.
7141 When I worked in Phoenix, Arizona there is a deaf instructor who taught hearing children. He did use an interpreter all the time. So that could be something that was telecast or shown to the public that these things are possible in ways of communication.
7142 A third idea is, say, you know ASL is a fast-growing language program in the U.S. We're noticing that there are more and more hearing children that are being -- that are taking ASL in high school. So they are becoming more familiar with American sign language and exposed to deafness through that language.
7143 Perhaps we could do a public awareness event at places like PNE or CNE; different booths that were set up at expos or trade shows so that hearing people could be exposed to it. They would also see the benefit of how having VRS would include more people to their businesses. I mean that should really impact their awareness about it.
7144 Deaf people already know about VRS. We don't need to educate them about the accessibility of the service but we do need to educate the hearing people on how it will also benefit them.
7145 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That goes nicely into my next question, and I think eliminates it, which was picking up on your point about the public awareness program that you experienced when you were living in Maryland about TTY relay.
7146 I gather that what you're saying is that because people are so technologically fluent today that there is not a lot to be done to tell the deaf community about the benefits and the workings of VRS. Is that correct?
7147 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): That's correct.
7148 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
7149 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): I would say basically yes.
7150 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay.
7151 I'd like to ask you --
7152 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): I'm sorry.
7153 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Oh, excuse me. Pardon me.
7154 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): If I could just add one more thing?
7155 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Yes.
7156 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): I think the majority of deaf children are born to hearing parents so they may not be aware of VRS programs if they are youth because usually we see parents communicating on behalf of their children, deaf or hearing children.
7157 But I think that we would maybe need to target some of the parents that may have deaf children to let them know that their own children could use this service, you know, if they want to call to find out what time a movie is or call a store to find out if they have a product. Parents can take a lot of breaks from having to be the interpreter or the communicator for their children.
7158 So that's another way to emphasize the potential of the service.
7159 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: That's a very good suggestion. Thank you.
7160 I'd like to ask you your perspective on privacy rights. There has been a lot of discussion this week regarding whether a VRS operator has a different kind of responsibility than the very close private relationship that an interpreter has with a client.
7161 My question to you is, do you see us having to look at the VRS operator having some responsibility to violate what is otherwise a private relationship if there is an issue of public safety or the safety of their client through any conversations you've had?
7162 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): Yes. However, before deaf people get the service from VRS for the first time we should have perhaps them signing a contract that outlines the conditions of being a service user, the rights of the deaf consumers, the rights of hearing consumers and also the rights of the VRS interpreters.
7163 I believe that they would be obligated, of course, to maintain confidentiality except in the few areas, of course, when we're talking about witnessing a crime, discussion of crimes, if someone is talking about committing suicide. Those things that are a threat to the public safety or personal safety of people.
7164 So interpreters in that case could potentially refer to the appropriate authorities to carry on with that, so there could be provisions made in those areas. And that's my personal opinion.
7165 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Okay. Thank you.
7166 Just two more questions. Have you had the opportunity to use a video relay in the last few years?
7167 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): Yes.
7168 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: And --
7169 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): When I was living in Blaine, Washington, I was using VRS quite a bit and then I moved to Vancouver. I felt quite out of sorts.
7170 I felt I was thrown into the back woods, to be quite honest, without having any VRS for quite a while and then TELUS had the 12 to 18-month trial and it felt like a relief. I felt like oh, I'm providing -- a member of British Columbia again, a human being.
7171 I was able to make phone calls and it was very smooth. I was using the VRS service during the trial. So yes, I have experienced using VRS.
7172 For a while, I was feeling like I was floating without any ability to make phone calls.
7173 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: You had mentioned in your --- it's been mentioned, rather -- my apologies. It's been mentioned by some telephone companies that the use of Internet Protocol Relay, IP Relay, has been less than anticipated, that a lot of deaf users are still staying with, you know, the text relay system of telephony.
7174 And I'm wondering if you could comment on why this is, if -- first, if you agree with the fact that IP Relay is not as used as it could or should be, and any reasons as to why this is happening.
7175 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): I think the majority of my peers do not use TTY any more. I believe that they are using cell phones as opposed to the TTY or relay or text messaging.
7176 I think that some places of business do have an opportunity to text back and forth with the business owner. In terms of IP Relay, I mean, people have email, so I think, for example, when I was giving you the idea about the planet, people don't want to use the substandard type of service, right.
7177 I said that hearing people, they don't want to type, either. They would rather make a phone call and use their voices.
7178 So I think on par you have to consider that that is not a great service.
7179 I was forced to use IP Relay, so I had no other options. But often, I wouldn't know what was happening on the other end of the phone call. Is someone even there? There's no way of telling.
7180 I don't know about their tone or intonation through text, whether it's on a TTY or IP Relay. There's a lot of guesswork that's still involved, and it's not an equal way of communicating.
7181 IP Relay can be frustrating when the hearing people on the other side of the phone are waiting and waiting for me to type, and I have to type back and it has to be at a certain speed. So it's not a good option.
7182 I mean, it's nice and I appreciate the effort to have those relay services, of course, but I feel that VRS is far more effective and cost effective as well.
7183 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very, very much. I appreciate, Mr. Sinclair, the effort you've made to come and talk to the Commission.
7184 Those are my questions.
7185 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much. We have no more questions.
7186 MR. SINCLAIR (interpreted): You're welcome.
7187 THE CHAIRPERSON: And you did make a contribution. Thank you.
7188 Madam Secretary.
7189 THE SECRETARY: I will now ask Ava Hawkins to come to presentation table.
7190 THE SECRETARY: You may begin. You have 15 minutes.
7191 Thank you.
7192 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): Good afternoon, representatives of the CRTC, and also thank you to Chairman Blais.
7193 My name is Ava Hawkins, and I've been involved as a member of the deaf community. I grew up as a hearing child with deaf parents, and I'm called a CODA. I'm also a certified interpreter.
7194 I've had many experiences interacting with the deaf community while I was growing up. I'm -- I come from eight generations of deaf family members.
7195 For the first portion of my presentation, I'll sign, and then, later on, I will present in spoken English.
7196 I'll present on four points which clarify my views on why we need VRS: life experiences, social needs, modernizations and equal rights.
7197 First, I'd like to give you a glimpse of what it's like growing up in the deaf community and how we communicate with our deaf parents.
7198 I grew up with deaf parents, and I have deaf siblings as well, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I live in Vancouver now.
7199 My father's side of the family was all deaf, and we communicated using sign language. When I was about five, my dad gave me a present, a box. I was excited. I opened up the box and I saw this thing inside, "What is this?"
7200 My dad showed me the sign for "phone". Okay. What do I do with it? What's it for?
7201 My father said, "Well, use it to call people". "Oh, okay. Dad, our family's all deaf. How am I supposed to call them?"
7202 And my father said, "Hang on a minute. I'll ask the people I work with at the post office".
7203 And so he asked them how to use the phone, and later, he explained to me how to use it. And my oldest sister, who's 11 years older than I, started teaching me how to dial the phone and what the sounds meant.
7204 I didn't know what the sounds meant on the phone. My parents were deaf and my brother and sister were deaf.
7205 I only knew other CODAs who could hear, but they also signed. But I didn't really know hearing people. I didn't interact with hearing people.
7206 But then I realized, oh, yes, we have neighbours and they talk to me. Right.
7207 My dad encouraged me to go to the neighbours and ask for their phone numbers, so I went and I got their phone numbers. And I said, "Well, what do I do with that?"
7208 And he said, "Well, you dial the number". So that's what I did, you know, dialed each number and then, on the other end, someone would say "Hello". And then I said, "Hello".
7209 I didn't realize that when you phoned someone, that when you heard their voice you would recognize who the person was. That took time for me to learn.
7210 So as I learned how to use the phone, I realized if I were going to be late getting home, I could go to a pay phone and phone to the neighbour and my neighbour would take my message, run over to my house, ring the doorbell and the lights would all flash and wait and hope my dad saw the lights and would answer the door. And then she would write a note to him, and then my father would read it, "Oh, it's a note from Ava".
7211 And then he would write a note back, give it to the neighbour. The neighbour would run back to her house and then she would pick up the phone and tell me what my father said.
7212 And that went on for 20 years.
7213 I'm not that old. And my father paid for that phone for the whole time I was growing up, my whole life at home. And he never used it once.
7214 My brother and sister never used it once. It was mine.
7215 And my parents spent a lot of money on that. I don't know how much exactly. I invented a figure. I said maybe $25 a month for that many years while I was growing up, maybe total about $6,000. And figure how many deaf families across Canada. I don't know. Maybe 100,000.
7216 And if it were really 100,000, it would mean that deaf people have spent $600 million for us, the people who can hear.
7217 It's not for them. It's been for us.
7218 Okay. Now, that's enough of the past. That's a glimpse of how we used the phone in the past.
7219 Fast forward to 2011. We have the TELUS trials, the remarkable service creates independence, autonomy for deaf people, so I could call home from my Blackberry. I could call family. I didn't have to be at home with, you know, using Skype or whatever. I could call from anywhere.
7220 The first time I used VRS, it was a little awkward because they say, "Hello, I'm Operator Number blah blah blah", and it was I know all that. I just wanted to say I want you to say hello just like I'm a hearing person. You know, when I call a hearing person they say "Hello". "Oh, hi, this is Ava". So just have a conversation.
7221 But you know, I had -- we always get the operator introduction bit.
7222 But anyway, so I got used to it very quickly. It was really cool.
7223 And so I want you to get this point through a situation that happened to me. I have a deaf aunt. Remember I said my whole family, basically, is deaf.
7224 So this aunt was sick. She phoned through VRS to call me, and I answered the phone. And you know, "What's wrong?"
7225 And the interpretation was very clear. It was like wow, my aunt was explaining something about problems that she has, you know, above the diaphragm, below the diaphragm, explaining in detail.
7226 And that would have been impossible to get through a message relay service through typing. But she could describe exactly what her symptoms were.
7227 And so we agreed that we needed to call 911, and I arranged to meet her at the hospital.
7228 So I arrived at the hospital and there was a lot of discussion about what was wrong, the nurses and doctors trying to figure out. They couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong.
7229 So anyway, I took out my phone and I called VRS to let my cousins know that it seemed to be pretty serious and getting my cousins to come to the hospital because I needed their support, my aunt needed their support.
7230 So I was at the hospital all day, and the doctors were trying to figure everything out. You know, is it here, is it here? They did scans. They did x-rays, whatever. All kinds of diagnostic tests.
7231 And they finally said -- you know, the family was all there and they said, "Why don't you go home and catch a few hours' sleep and we'll call. When we find something, we'll let you know".
7232 So everyone said great, so we all left, went home, got some sleep. And then early in the morning, the hospital phoned me.
7233 And they said, "We need you to come now. We've discovered what's wrong".
7234 So I arrived at the hospital and I met with the doctor and nurses, and they talked about exactly -- described exactly what was wrong, what the options were from the medical perspective, what choices they could offer us.
7235 And then as the time goes on, you know -- like in the hearing, for example, you forget about what time it is, but things go on. And the -- finally, the doctor suggested it was time to have a family meeting.
7236 So I phoned VRS.
7237 THE SECRETARY: Ms Hawkins, I just want to let you know you have five minutes left.
7238 MS HAWKINS: Okay, perfect. Thank you.
7239 MS HAWKINS (interpreted): So I phoned VRS, and the answer was, "This phone number has been disconnected. The service is no longer offered".
7240 It was like oh, my God. What -- I didn't know what to do. So I just had to go back to the old way of doing things.
7241 You know, I eventually contacted -- I tried neighbours, but I wound up finally reaching a colleague who went to my family and explained, "Ava says it's really serious. You need to come to the hospital".
7242 Can you imagine having that -- having that first class service and then, all of a sudden, nothing?
7243 Since the VRS trial ended, all of our families have had to go back to the old way. You know, we go to the neighbours and write notes. We get someone to phone for us. So we're going backwards to the old ways.
7244 Families are depending on their children to interpret for them on the phone. And so, you know, children are being asked to phone the bank or to get a new credit card activated or -- those are just a couple of examples of what's happening now.
7245 So now I'm going to switch to spoken English.
7246 MS HAWKINS: So I'm just going to address the social needs.
7247 For 18 months, our community in British Columbia was able to experience independence, pride and self-awareness in placing calls through VRS. They could call their employer, their doctor, Air Miles, bank, hospital, lawyer, their kids' family, their kids' teachers, family members and virtually anybody that they wished to speak to in a natural way that made communicating in their natural language much easier in a seamless manner.
7248 Without Video Relay Service, our community cannot conduct themselves in just the simplest tasks, the simplest tasks of daily life that are afforded to the majority of Canadians.
7249 Technology --
7250 THE SECRETARY: Sorry; you're speaking --
7251 MS HAWKINS: Way too fast.
7252 THE SECRETARY: -- a little too fast.
7253 MS HAWKINS: Sorry, guys.
7254 Technology and training of sign language interpreters in Video Relay Service afforded us the ability to become equal. It's been many generations where our community has had to be co-dependent on one another to create access. Misunderstandings, miscommunications create undue hardship on us when we cannot understand written messages or text messages.
7255 A VRS provides that clarity. It's truly linguistically, socially and culturally acceptable for us. It's the way we communicate.
7256 Canada has current -- sorry, Canada currently has Video Relay Services centres across our country with Canadian-trained interpreters who are supported with thousands of hours by the deaf and interpreting communities for their training in sign language and interpretation as well as their practicum experiences, yet we only serve American citizens.
7257 We have a solution in place. We need Canadians to have access to the service. Telephone service providers need to modernize and provide funding for VRS.
7258 It's time to move forward to the 21st century and say yes to the implementation of VRS services for Canada.
7259 In terms of a modernization plan, as Commissioner Jean-Pierre Blais reiterated in his speech on June 17th, 2013 in regard to a modernization with the residents of Nunavut, we are on parallel.
7260 The deaf community needs modernization as well.
7261 Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Bell's father, grandfather and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing his life on inventing the telephone.
7262 While Bell is highly regarded for his invention of the telephone, he's not widely regarded in our deaf community because he focused so much on speech and the elocution, and not on the natural use of sign language, which preserves our identity in the deaf community.
7263 It's ironic in today's terms we would call him a CODA because his mother was deaf. Yes, a person who is a CODA invented the phone and yet, unfortunately, not accessible for our signing deaf community.
7264 THE SECRETARY: Sorry. You have to conclude.
7265 MS HAWKINS: No worries. Thank you.
7266 THE CHAIRPERSON: Vice-Chair Pentefountas has some questions for you.
7267 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: Thank you, Ms Hawkins.
7268 More comments than questions because your presentation is quite clear. I'm sorry you didn't get to read it all out, but we did, and I know you've been here all week and you've noticed we've been following attentively everyone's presentations.
7269 Very sorry about your aunt.
7270 MS HAWKINS: Thank you.
7271 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: But -- and we learned something about Alexander Graham Bell that I didn't know, that he was a CODA. I'm impressed.
7272 And you did a great job on the video yesterday.
7273 MS HAWKINS: Thank you.
7274 COMMISSIONER PENTEFOUNTAS: I was asking my colleagues, or Stephen, if you're actors because you guys were like naturals out there.
7275 And I won't take up any more of your time. I appreciate it. Your position is clear, and the record is clear as well.
7276 Thank you so much.
7277 MS HAWKINS: You're very welcome.
7278 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. We have no more questions.
7279 MS HAWKINS: Thank you.
7280 THE SECRETARY: I would now ask Mr. Chris Kenopic to come to the presentation table.
7281 THE SECRETARY: Before we start, for the record, the Panel is giving Mr. Chabanol of IVES until November 7 to submit his undertaking.
7282 MR. KENOPIC (interpreted): Okay. Thank you for the honour of coming to present to this Panel about the important issue of VRS.
7283 I appreciate your attention for this whole week. The important thing is to especially thank you for the accessibility that you have set up for this. Deaf people across Canada really appreciate that. We want to recognize you for the work you have done in making this proceeding accessible.
7284 I have three important areas to deal with: employment opportunities; access to services and access to education.
7285 In terms of employment opportunities, there are deaf people who own their own businesses and a few deaf people who are supervisors and managers who work in a variety of fields and many of them admit that if VRS were up and running, their potential for success would be greatly increased. Right now they are depending on MRS relay services where they have to type everything.
7286 Many of them are not comfortable. They may be considered bilingual in ASL and English, but their comfort level in ASL is much greater. They can communicate articulately in ASL, but not so much in English.
7287 I am the President and CEO for the Canadian Hearing Society, which is a large organization providing services to deaf people, deaf and hard of hearing people in Ontario. I manage a $38 million budget. For me, the frustration of being President and CEO is I can't function on an equal basis to other hearing CEOs. I have to depend on email to communicate. If I had VRS, I would be able to function on an equal footing, we would be able to improve the services that we offer and develop a good foundation for the deaf community.
7288 If we had VRS I would be able to network often. Hearing people, you know, you look at people, they walk around, they have their cell phones glued to their ears. I don't have that opportunity. If I had opportunities like that, I would be able to talk to people wherever I was, with my mobile, with my computer, whatever.
7289 Hearing people take communication for granted. I think it's important to recognize that you have advantages that we don't have and you need to consider giving us equal advantages.
7290 It's very sad, but across Canada 60 to 80 percent of deaf Canadians and un- or under-employed. It's not that they don't know how to look for work or they don't have skills to work, they have the skills. They have been to school, they have had training, they have done everything they need to do to work, it's just that society is behind in terms of being able to accept them as employees. They look at the hearing loss, they don't look at the person and their skills and what they can offer on the job.
7291 I can speak from my own experience. When I was younger I was very frustrated looking for a job because people were looking at my hearing, not at me and my skills. So it doesn't matter how well you put your Resume together and demonstrate your skills, people don't see that.
7292 But I think with VRS we would be better able to sell ourselves. We could showcase our abilities better and be more successful in gaining employment.
7293 Employers don't have much knowledge about providing access to communication and we need to do more work in terms of educating employers how to do this.
7294 There are lots of myths around out there, you know, if you hire a deaf person it's not safe. They have lots of concerns about, oh, deaf people get injured in the workplace. Those kinds of myths and misunderstandings also affect our ability to gain employment.
7295 And discrimination does happen. Canadian Hearing Society does have employment services, we have deaf and hearing employment consultants and they admit that it's often a struggle.
7296 The deaf employment consultants want to make phone calls to businesses and companies, but they have to do it through the Bell Relay Service. And the employer will discuss something briefly with them then, but then they hang up.
7297 But with VRS it would be much more effective for them to be able to communicate with employers so that they would be more successful in helping deaf people find employment.
7298 In terms of access to services, for example 9-1-1, is a critical service. It's really unfortunate many communities across Canada who have 9-1-1 service, it's not regulated in terms of standards. Some are accessible by TTY, some are not. Some places use a registry, so if in some places if you phone and you are a deaf family, they may have registered a profile for you for your deaf family.
7299 If I am in a situation where I need help, sometimes I would have to phone a friend and explain the whole situation and, you know, finally, eventually an ambulance arrives.
7300 But, you know, if in a hearing situation someone has a heart attack, someone calls 9-1-1 and the 9-1-1 operator is giving them instructions, telling them what to do, guiding them through the process until the ambulance gets there, so that way more lives are saved than if I try to access through TTY, because it's such a laborious process, it takes much longer and so things don't happen as quickly.
7301 For deaf people across Canada who may be depressed or have anxiety issues, suppose during the night they are thinking of suicide, there is no service for them to call where they can communicate comfortably. Hearing people, if they are depressed, thinking of suicide, they can call a help line, a crisis line. They say, "Ah, I'm feeling depressed, I'm thinking about harming myself", there is someone they can talk to immediately.
7302 But imagine a deaf person using a TTY, calling through a relay service with English as a second language, or French as a second language. There is no way to convey the emotion, there is no direct communication. If we had VRS, then we would be able to express ourselves in our own language and that would also help us to kind of defuse the situation.
7303 An interpreter is a person. We feel a connection with them. They are not a machine. Like the TTY, it's like a machine, there's no person there. At least with VRS we see a person.
7304 Our Mental Health Services at CHS deals with many people who have issues of depression. Any of our deaf counsellors try to refer clients to other services, addiction services, mental health services. Our deaf counsellors have to go through the message relay service, but with VRS they are able to fully discuss the client situation so that they can get better outcomes for their clients.
7305 The last part in terms of access to services is for seniors. As deaf people become older their vision deteriorates, their hands get less agile and it's difficult for them to type on the TTY. Many deaf seniors are isolated. They don't have a way to call their children or grandchildren and have a chat. It's very limiting to have to type on the TTY.
7306 But from my own experience, my grandmother is gone, I never had a chance to call and have a last chat with her. There was no opportunity to do that because my grandmother wasn't really able to talk on the phone. But if I had VRS I would have been able to at least briefly chat with her. Through the relay service, through the message relay, it would take so long to get the information to her it would not have been feasible. So it's very difficult for deaf seniors to maintain that contact with their families so that they are not isolated.
7307 Education is an important part of being in the community, it helps people get promotions, get employment. I have met successful deaf people across the country, university professors, lawyers, but they had to really sweat to prove themselves in order to be successful. We want to see more have professional jobs, but the key to that is education.
7308 It's very frustrating for many of us who have difficulties because, you know, everything has to be done through message really or e-mail and you have to wait for responses. VRS we can do things immediately. If your Prof is in the office, great, you can phone through VRS and talk to them. They can call us as well and it just makes communication that much more effective.
7309 Another aspect of education, I am a parent, I have four children, I often need to chat with the school, but in order to do that I have to book an interpreter usually a week or two weeks down the road. If I'm lucky I might get one in two days, but I have to wait. But hearing parents, they can do it over the phone, a quick chat.
7310 In 2001 when VRS started to spread across the United States, initially we could use that service. What a blessing. I could call the school, I could chat about my child in school, about their homework, I could have great conversations and it was really effective. I didn't have to wait for an interpreter, go to the school, have an appointment, I could do things immediately. It was really wonderful.
7311 So that overall is why I want to see VRS established. I know you have heard other people say some of the same comments, the same kind of stories, but I can tell you my many years of experience being deaf, I know that we could have all done so much more if we had had access to VRS all along.
7312 You know, you are talking about stats or how many VRS centres, all of that. I think we need to think about humanity, it's important to provide the service.
7313 We also need to recognize that interpreters are humans, too, they are not machines. And that's a really important connection for the deaf community, to allow them to express their emotions. More than 70 percent of our communication is through non-verbal cues. You don't get that at all through text relays.
7314 So I hope that you seriously consider all of this and if another issue comes up at CRTC I hope to be able to see a deaf panel members sitting there.
7315 I think it's the time to recognize that deaf people are equally as intelligent as everyone else, we are not second-class citizens and we have every right to be equal.
7316 So thank you for the opportunity to come and present and I would be happy to answer questions.
7317 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you.
7318 Commissioner Simpson has a couple of questions for you.
7319 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you very much.
7320 I would just like to say that -- and this goes to the previous presenter, Ms Hawkins -- that when you don't get a lot of questions from a Panel it's not because we have tuned out or gotten bored or anything like that, it's usually the result of a very effective presentation that leaves us very little that we need to ask to get clarity for the record. So I just wanted to say that.
7321 With that preface, I, too, will not have any questions.
7322 I have one, though, to start. In your slide presentation that you printed out for us you referenced BRS. I presume that's Braille relay; is that correct?
7323 MR. KENOPIC (interpreted): Oh, thank you for asking me. It's the Bell Relay Service. Period this week everyone has been using the term Message Relay Service, this is one in particular, it's Bell Relay Service.
7324 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Ah, thank you. I just wanted clarity.
7325 On that theme, as a -- let's call you a super user, do you -- could you fill out for me your position as to the importance of continuing with some form of message relay system in concert with VRS so that I have a good understanding from a business user the importance of having a text service as a companion to a voice service?
7326 MR. KENOPIC (interpreted): Well, I believe that we should keep options open. People have a right to choose how they wish to communicate. For example, people who are severely hard of hearing may not know sign language and they will rely on the text relay service so if you discontinue that you create a whole new barrier for them. So I would not recommend stopping the message relay services, I would say keep them all.
7327 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Thank you.
7328 How much have you and, from your impressions, the deaf community become more reliant on e-mail and text messaging using mobile devices as an alternate to a TTY or message relay system?
7329 MR. KENOPIC(interpreted): Well, for myself I use my BlackBerry and my e-mail a lot. Using the TTY through the message relay service, if I have to I will, but I see young people today, even my kids, they know way more about technology than me, I have to worry about keeping up with them, but technology really has changed a lot and very quickly.
7330 And many deaf people certainly have picked up very quickly on technology and so I think that to go along with that, establishing VRS services I think would complete the picture.
7331 I think CRTC needs to recognize that and not allow politics or money and cost to prevent this from happening. I think we need to recognize we need equal access.
7332 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: You had mentioned in your presentation today, you had referenced that it would take a week or two sometimes to book an interpreter. Is this normal or is this an exception?
7333 MR. KENOPIC (interpreted): Well, "normal" is kind of a sarcastic -- ironic term. The kind of world we live it now, it may take two weeks. As a consumer I don't feel that I should have to wait two weeks to get an interpreter, but I think we need to improve that. We do provide interpreter services within Canadian Hearing Society and we work hard to organize scheduling to get interpreters where they need to be, but using VRS to be able to do that very quickly on the spot, arrange appointments for a lawyer or for a doctor or whatever, I don't want -- for VRS, I don't want to have to wait too long to be able to talk to the people I need to talk to.
7334 And we need to make sure that we provide enough resources to the system, whether it's partnership with interpreter training programs with agencies to make sure that we develop more interpreters.
7335 Once VRS is up and running I see more young people being interested in that as a career. There will be more opportunities. So whether it's working in the community as an interpreter or working with VRS, that will provide more opportunities for young people.
7336 COMMISSIONER SIMPSON: Those are my questions, but I would just like to make a comment, that your presentation was very helpful because it has given me two key thoughts.
7337 One, on the question of length of time in booking an interpreter, in a business world I can see it being extremely frustrating to try and be responsive to the pace of a business world when it takes a week or two for you to get back to someone who is interested in hiring you or using your services or that of your business and that I think had an impact.
7338 The other is that in the world we are living in we are building contacts, our contact lists in our phones, in our iPads, in our computers are exactly that, they are contacts and usually used for the purpose of e-mail and messaging, but you can't build a relationship on a text message and I think you have done a good job of demonstrating the importance of video relay in context to employment opportunities and business relationships and thank you very much for that.
7339 MR. KENOPIC(interpreted): Thank you.
7340 THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much for your presentation. We have no more questions.
7341 Madam Secretary...?
7342 THE SECRETARY: Thank you.
7343 For the record, the Ontario Association of the Deaf will be providing their preferred model of VRS governance by November 10th.
7344 Mr. Chairman...?
7345 THE CHAIRPERSON: We now conclude the public hearing phase of the 2013-155 proceeding.
7346 Final reply by parties who submitted comments is due on November 15th. These parties are entitled to submit further argument on any point that has been made to date, including, as I noted earlier this week, on the interpretation and application of section 15 of the Telecommunications Act or any other part of the Act. However, parties are not to submit new evidence.
7347 The Commission will carefully consider the evidence and arguments presented this week and at all the other stages of the proceeding and will issue a decision in due course.
7348 Before we adjourn, however, I would like to thank everyone who took the opportunity to participate in this public process for their citizenship and the articulation of their perspectives.
7349 I would also like to thank the staff, led by Kay Saicheua; the hearing team led by Jade Roy; our legal counsel and the technical team managing the audio-video and internet connectivity led by Marc Labelle.
7350 Also, I of course want to thank my colleagues on this Panel for their patience and their wisdom.
7351 Most of all, however, I would like to thank the interpreters, those in the booth working in official languages and the remarkable teams functioning on the floor and in regional offices interpreting English to French to LSQ at times and vice versa in many combinations in LSQ and ASL. Your tireless efforts have enriched this hearing and are deeply appreciated.
7352 The hearing is adjourned.
--- Whereupon the hearing concluded at 1501
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