6: HOVRS — What Is So Special About ‘Em?
Posted by ridor9th on November 13, 2008
Like it or not, the videophones are vital to millions of Deaf individuals across not in this country but across the globe. Like it or not, the videophones are replacing TTYs these days. More and more Deaf people are tossing the TTYs in the closets and attics. The videophones, of course, spawned the need for video relay services. Needless to say, there are dozens of for-profit VRS companies out there to serve the Deaf people.
SorensonVRS. CACVRS. HandsOnVRS. CSDVRS. ViableVRS. SprintRelay. LifelinksVRS. HawkRelay. HamiltonVRS. SnapVRS to name few. If I miss anyone else in particular, so sue me. These companies were created to meet the demands — heck, it’s all about economics: Supply and demand.
Few people wondered why there are too many VRS companies. I had to explain about how it works from time to time. Basically, in this country, the demand will spawn the supply which will spawn the companies. Then when the profits decline, that’s when the companies will merge or eat each other up in the process. It happened with banking, retail, internet companies and so on. It shall happen with VRS companies, sooner or later.
I’m all for VRS companies to make money off from us as long as they involve Deaf people in the process. As long as they do not exploit us. As long as they do not manipulate the needs of Deaf people in general.
I’m not a fan of SorensonVRS. I already made it clear a long time ago that I find them to a major nuisance mainly because they attempted to subjugate the interpreters from switching to other VRS companies — in fact, they created a contract binding them that should they quit, dismiss or terminate at SorensonVRS, they cannot work for another VRS company for a year. SorensonVRS repeatedly claimed that it is about the code of ethics.
My response? Bullshit.
Not only that, SorensonVRS also waged a lengthy battle with other VRS companies in preventing the FCC from requiring the interpreters to be certified. SorensonVRS only wanted “qualified” interpreters because it is cheaper than to hire “certified” interpreters. SorensonVRS does not give a crap about the quality and ability of interpreters’ ASL as long as it is cheap. Meanwhile, SorensonVRS also claimed that the main reason why they did this is because there were not enough interpreters out there that are certified.
Yeah, right, like I really believe.
Truth be told, I don’t use SorensonVRS for a long time.
Sorenson has its VP-100 and VP-200. Some has Ojo. CSDVRS has D-Link and is currently distributing The Z. Viable already launched the VPAD and VPAD Plus. What of HOVRS? The so-called MVP has been stagnant in delays for the last couple of years!
Unlike others, HOVRS has caught my attention with the way it runs itself in our communities. Which is what I will cover in 3-part entries on this particular blogsite.
The founder and the CEO of HOVRS was none other than Ronald Obray. Obray is CODA. That was kinda cool and nice to know that someone within our community was to run the company that may make money off from our people. Not only that, Kelby Brick also worked for HOVRS as the Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs. Kelby Brick is Deaf attorney that has worked with National Association of the Deaf. Not bad, right?
Last year, I was surprised to learn that Ronald Obray sold HOVRS to GoAmerica for $35 million in cash. GoAmerica already swallowed Verizon’s Telecommunication Relay Services a bit earlier before merging with HOVRS.
I was piqued with curiosity about the folks that runs the HOVRS. The very top officers of HOVRS/GoAmerica — the CEO, President, the Vice-President and all that positions — none of them are Deaf. Dig it?
One source inside from HOVRS told me that since GoAmerica swallowed HOVRS, there has been an activity of pushing Deaf people aside from climbing up the corporate ladder. Which is why we do not see any Deaf individual working as an Executive of some sorts at GoAmerica/HOVRS.
That particular source said that the main reason why Deaf individuals were pushed aside is that these current executives claimed and felt that Deaf individuals lack the experience and means to qualify for any top-level positions within GoAmerica/HOVRS. That is bullshit, folks. The claims are the same ones that all Deaf individuals had heard from many hearing-oriented corporations.
But this excuse coming from GoAmerica/HOVRS whom garnered millions of dollars from the FCC related to video relay service business is deplorable, simply put!
Look at Viable. The top-level positions — All of them are Deaf! CSDVRS? They have several Deaf individuals running at the top. So does SprintRelay and SorensonVRS. It appears to me that this particular company, HOVRS, is systemically preventing the qualified or interested Deaf individuals from getting their positions.
For a company that makes money off from Deaf Communities and yet, scheming to prevent Deaf individuals from attaining the top-level positions is simply despicable.
What says you?
NEXT: What’s Up With HOVRS’ MVP?
This entry was posted on November 13, 2008 at 6:47 am and is filed under Countdown, Deaf-related Issues, My Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.