Lubbock deaf community making communication changes

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — The deaf community in Lubbock is having to adapt to change as the Coronavirus continues to spread, utilizing a video platform known as VRI.

Rodney ‘Rok’ King, Executive Director of Lubbock Inc., said in-person interpretation is no longer safe, affecting daily life, like a trip to the doctor’s office.

“Ease of access for our deaf community is a priority,” King said.

King said on average, an interpreter can have eight assignments per day, coming in contact with up to about 32 people per day.

“We’re providing video relay interpreting. We started setting up this program last year,” King said.

King said the VRI service is HIPAA certified, meaning it’s perfectly legal to use in a healthcare setting. King added the service is also being made available to health care professionals to communicate amongst each other, not just for interpretation purposes.

“This is a wonderful option that we’ve provided the hearing and deaf community,” King said.

Thee service connects folks with local interpreters they can trust. King said prior to Coronavirus concerns, VRI was primarily used in rural communities where interpreters are not readily available.

“We don’t want the doctor sitting there struggling. We know the doctor has a job to do,” King said.

The platform allows communication between a deaf person and a hearing person via video chat. For example, when a person who is deaf goes to a doctor’s office, they must be provided some accommodation. For VRI, the doctor should provide a tablet or computer with video capabilities. While the doctor is talking with the patient, the interpreter is able to hear what the doctor is saying and sign for the patient. In turn, the patient will then sign back, and the interpreter translates for the doctor.

President of Lubbock Deaf Inc., Lori Mallory said she has used the service before. She said it can be difficult at times. Video can delay or not be clear to either parties, however she said some sort of interpretation is better than none at all.

“VRI is nice to have as a back-up,” Mallory said.

For more information about Lubbock Deaf Inc. and the services they provide, or to make a donation, go to their website.

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