As a deaf person, I get frustrated calling my bank via a third party sign language interpreter on video and she knows my private information. Not only that, the bank takes forever to process my request. Only if there’s an easier way – hence the FCC ACE initiative, a major priority for former Chairman Tom Wheeler as shown in this Fast Company article.
FCC spends 1 billion dollars annually on Relay Services which help deaf and hard of people to communicate with anyone via a third-party interpreter using either text or video services. Additionally, private companies, bank, federal agencies, and other organizations report longer processing time and delayed response times to deal with deaf consumers.
FCC initiated the ACE program (Accessible Communications for Everyone) and asked for me to get it off the ground. They felt my work on Healthcare.gov and my intimate knowledge of the deaf community would benefit them greatly so they borrowed me from Healthcare.gov for few months to work with MITRE to spearhead this work.
Direct Video Calling is a concept where organizations would hire employees fluent in sign language to engage with their deaf consumers thus reducing response time, increasing customer satisfaction, and saving money. We worked with MITRE to create software that call centers and companies could use We made this software open source to initial success. The FCC, Small Business Administration, and EEOC have embraced this. We have seen Microsoft and other companies adopt this concept as well. That was the result of my efforts reaching out to these companies to embrace this concept. More information can also be found here.