The new service will go live July 26th, but at a launch party at DeafNation World Expo, attendees will be able to place ZVRS-powered calls using the iPhone 4's FaceTime feature.
If you're not familiar with VRS, it stands for visual relay service, and allows the deaf and hard of hearing individuals to have telephone conversations with hearing people. In the words of ZVRS:
"VRS allows deaf and hard of hearing individuals to have telephone conversations with hearing people. Using a videophone with real-time video connection, an interpreter “relays” the conversation between the two parties: voicing what the deaf person is signing to the hearing caller and translating the spoken words into American Sign Language (ASL) for the deaf/hard of hearing caller to see on screen. The hearing caller can use any mobile or landline phone."
With the introduction of ZVRS' new service, though, a deaf or hard of hearing individual needs to just have an iPhone 4 and be in an area with Wi-Fi to initiate a FaceTime call with the interpreter.
As a hearing person, I can't completely relate to what this technology means for the deaf community, but I can only imagine, given some of the quotes I've been reading since the sneak peak was conducted earlier this month. For example, this quote says it all:
"It’s awesome!” said Raymond. “There will be no need for me to carry my laptop wherever I go! The picture is clear. I love it!"
You can read more about the new technology at ZVRS.com.
Disclosure: ZVRS is a client, but I wanted to share this with the readers to show how advances in mobile communication are now helping realize something that seemed impossible even a year ago.