Keeping the Sorenson bosses happy

February 20, 2011

Report on Sorenson by Sorenson for Sorenson:

No doubt it will keep these people happy:

See here for concerns in the USA about Sorenson, and ask whether these have been addressed since, and how:



Sorenson VRS Roadshow heads north: some questions to ask them

February 20, 2011

We have put together some suggested questions our friends up north who are attending the Sorenson VRS Roadshow (Preston, Glasgow, Edinburgh) may wish to ask Sorenson.

[And, of course, the grande finale at the Friends Meeting House in London]:

Who has access to the petition data?

Which independent agency are monitoring it to avoid duplicate entries and incorrect submissions?

Why are Deaf connections and Significant being sidelined in this roadshow?

[That is, shouldn’t they be the lead presenters in the roadshow?]

What is the profit that Sorenson expect in each year of operation of their proposed relay service?  [They know they have already done the math!]

What are the credentials of Sorenson, really [check out Wikipedia, on VRS, it must have been written by Sorenson]?.

Where are the recommendations from Deaf people?

Where are the recommendations from interpreters?

Why has Sorenson not been in discussion with interpreters associations in the UK?

Is it true that their plans include using Stage 2/Level 2 BSL users and making them the relay operators?

How will they match the required European standard of Total Conversation, when they do not even have a Total Conversation client or any end-points, equipment which are Total Conversation?

(see the earlier blog posting for the dates of the roadshow trail)

Soronson VRS Roadshow UK dates

February 17, 2011

Events will be held in the following towns and cities:

No to Sorenson VRS in UK!

February 10, 2011

A few questions about the ‘Sorenson VRS Roadshow’


RE: VRS Today[1] Campaign Roadshow, Bristol next Weds 16th February and in other locations throughout UK

We are extremely concerned by the campaign of the United States based corporation, Sorenson, as it attempts to pressure the UK government to introduce a national VRS centre.

We hope that all who are attending the Sorenson Roadshow in the next two weeks will give serious thought to the questions in this Fact Sheet.

Just want to make it clear: we are not objecting to video relay service itself: rather to Sorenson’s attempt to encourage deaf and hearing people and their organisations to become involved in a political campaign out of which they stand to make vast profits.

Some really important information first!

  1. The European Union have sent out a directive about making about making telecommunications accessible to all [2] Therefore the UK government is duty bound by European legislation to provide accessible services.
  2. The UK government, as a result, has had to consider its response to this directive. Both BIS (not yet published) and Ofcom (report on their website) have collected information
  3. OfCom are fully aware that the issues are: to provide access for Deaf people to telecoms, such as: proper broadband, appropriate equipment/handsets, guaranteed quality, choice of relay service, etc.
  4. The idea of VRS is important; however, this is only a part of the fundamental rights issue which the European Union have recognised.

Why have Sorenson become involved?

  1. Sorenson have decided there is a business opportunity; they want to make a profit.
  2. They have been campaigning extensively, and with a good deal of money, to get deaf organizations to sign up to their plan to provide a single relay service for the UK (run potentially by Sorenson).
  3. The main deaf organisations and organisations of the main deaf clubs have not signed up to this – partly because the Sorenson figures do not make financial sense.  They are very expensive – over £750million pounds
  4. Nevertheless Sorensen has pressed on with their campaign – they have funded a legal firm in London to represent them and have supported the telecommunications action group (TAG) financially.
  5.  The road shows/workshops are being promoted by Sorenson – albeit by bringing along existing relay service groups in the UK.

10.  The drive behind the campaign by Sorenson is therefore business related and is not necessarily being funded out of concern for Deaf people needing access to telecoms.

11.  A particular issue for deaf people, interpreters, and deaf organisations is the proposal by Sorenson to give free equipment to their signed up users and also the claim to be able to train interpreters from low levels of BSL to relay interpreter level in no time at all. (ASLI are expecting MRSLI status and then 5 years experience before they accept emergency relay calls).


So what is the alternative?!

12.  The alternative is a network of support managed by Deaf people, interpreters and relay services with a close reference to Deaf rights and needs … so as to ensure there can be local choice and quality control.

13.  There is currently a non-profit led proposal in the UK for a national network which will involve interpreters, deaf people, deaf organisations, and relay services to manage the development of such services and, importantly, to preserve quality[3].  Access to this development is free for Deaf users during the project[4]

14.  There also needs to be a change to broadband provision and equipment/handsets, so that Deaf people can connect properly through video and that the Interpreters are able to work in telecommunications relay services.

In summary we conclude:

  1. Before making a decision as to whether involve yourself in the campaign, we agree and understand that Deaf people have a right to telecommunications services (as set out in the legislation);
  2. The main and driving force behind the Sorenson campaign, however, is to promote a service and product for profitable purposes: the rights and needs of deaf people are secondary;
  3. These very factors mean that the kind of service UK deaf people would receive would not necessarily end up being the best available;
  4. Above all, we urge you to ask yourselves why a United States based company, i.e. Sorenson, are so aggressively pursuing a campaign of this nature in the UK and Europe?

 Finally, it is vital that Deaf people have a role in the development of telecommunications and are proactively engaged in their development and are not just consumers.

This factsheet has not been produced by any organisation or political group: it is for information purposes only – the choice what to do is yours

[1] VRS Today is a website of Sorenson

[2] for text of Universal service directive form Europe – due to come into force in May 2011 (relevant sections are article 22 to article 26)