VTCSecure: Overcoming communication barriers for the deaf community

About VTCSecure

VTCSecure offers solutions including Video Relay Service setups, call center infrastructure, and consulting services designed to support members of the deaf and blind communities.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States

VTCSecure uses Google Cloud Platform to power its platform for the deaf community that breaks down barriers and makes communication easier.

Google Cloud Results

  • Drives cost savings through usage-based pricing that handles workloads for resource-intensive multiparty Video Relay Service calls
  • Creates a cost-effective alternative for worldwide deaf-accessible communication by leveraging Google Cloud Platform
  • Boosts VTCSecure platform efficiency with quick Compute Engine spin times

Completed Google Cloud migration from another cloud provider in less than one day

For VTCSecure, improving communication for people with disabilities is at the heart of the company's mission. It also personally resonates with founder and CEO Peter Hayes. Earlier in his career, Peter was installing Video Relay Service (VRS) setups for Fortune 500 companies and government offices which allowed deaf people to communicate with hearing individuals via sign language. During one installation a deaf employee came up on a video call and immediately started sobbing. She told Peter that although she'd worked at her job for more than 25 years, she'd never been able to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) outside of work at until that day.

"Communication Service for the Deaf applauds VTCSecure's initiative in embracing universal design approaches and principles in the development of their product portfolio. CSD and VTCSecure have both been staunch advocates of ASL call center programs and creating opportunities for deaf individuals to experience customer support in their native language – ASL."

Christopher Soukup, CEO, Communication Service for the Deaf

VTCSecure offers products including Video Relay Service in other countries, Video Remote Interpreting, Video Remote Assistance for the Blind, and sign language call center technology solutions designed to help individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or blind more easily communicate with the wider public. Due to Google and its ability to be spun up instantly worldwide, VTCSecure is able to set up VRS for the deaf on a global scale, including other countries that do not provide accessible communication options.

"Communication Service for the Deaf applauds VTCSecure's initiative in embracing universal design approaches and principles in the development of their product portfolio," says Christopher Soukup, CEO at Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD). "CSD and VTCSecure have both been staunch advocates of ASL call center programs and creating opportunities for deaf individuals to experience customer support in their native language – ASL."

The VTCSecure communication platform is comprised of server-side software and applications that can be instantly deployed and configured to meet any communication requirement. To power these applications, VTCSecure relies on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Google APIs to help ensure that solutions remain scalable and cost-effective for clients. Google Maps Platform provides additional SOLVES platform support, while the company also uses G Suite internally, and is exploring integrating Google Kubernetes Engine into its platform for additional performance gains through containerization.

Building a versatile cloud communication platform

Within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, unemployment remains a continuing challenge. According to a 2017 analysis from the Yang-Tan Institute at Cornell University, nearly 60% of all working-age individuals with a hearing disability in the United States were unemployed. In many cases, employers lack the education or awareness to work with deaf individuals and technology such as video calls designed to bridge the gap between deaf and hearing-capable people.

"When we first started working with Google Cloud, we were amazed at how deeply the team understood our company and our mission. Google and its engineers worked to create solutions that help us provide accessible deaf and blind-focused connectivity, which is huge."

Peter Hayes, Founder and CEO, VTCSecure

VTCSecure partners with groups such as disability-community-focused job fairs and uses GCP to keep its services running smoothly. In the accessible job fairs, applicants use the VTCSecure platform to view and apply for jobs. Deaf individuals are connected to an interpreter, while hard-of-hearing people get assistance from Cloud Speech-to-Text for live conversations. Once candidates find roles they are interested in, they get connected via video to hiring managers for live recorded interviews through VTCSecure's platform.

The platform is accessible for all attendees and can support adding a sign language interpreter or speech-to-text conversion. For those with mobility disabilities, live-video career fairs allow them to remotely interview without the added difficulty of traveling. VTCSecure-accessible job fairs have already attracted customers including Facebook, Bank of America, and Aetna. With the success of these events, large companies are now considering using VTCSecure as a cost-effective way to open up career fairs to all remote candidates.

With past fairs seeing hundreds of candidates making video calls that need to be conducted with low latency and archived for future reference, GCP helps provide reliable video communication performance for VTCSecure customers. Instances on Compute Engine can be spun up and down in only 15 minutes to meet swings in call demands, which enables the company to support resource-intensive multiparty video calls that can take up to a half core for processing per recording. GCP usage-based pricing allows VTCSecure to offer cost savings compared to traditional offerings that require significant processing overhead.

"When we first started working with Google Cloud, we were amazed at how deeply the team understood our company and our mission," says Peter. "Google and its engineers worked to create solutions that help us provide accessible deaf and blind-focused connectivity, which is huge."

Eliminating institutional roadblocks

For organizations, cost has traditionally been one of the biggest challenges when developing deaf access for communication options. Building an enterprise video call center installation from the ground up can potentially cost millions of dollars and includes further investments such as hiring sign language interpreters and employee training. The deaf population worldwide is also only expected to grow, as the World Health Organization estimates that more than 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss by 2050.

"Our goal has always been to do something global that gives deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals a chance to work and live. With VTCSecure, anybody with an internet connection around the world can now have a call that's optimized for sign language. Google helps us create these connections."

Peter Hayes, Founder and CEO, VTCSecure

By building its solutions on GCP, VTCSecure delivers a platform for accessible communication to customers that removes these initial barriers to entry and emphasizes simple deployment. GCP performance provides reliable and cost-effective call performance, while Google security standards help with issues such as developing VTCSecure FedRAMP requirements.

Within the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, VTCSecure also wants its platform to be a vehicle for larger social change. For solutions such as its deaf-to-deaf call center program, VTCSecure actively encourages companies to hire deaf individuals and support deaf employment. These deaf-to-deaf call centers allow deaf customers to call in and talk directly to another deaf person employed by the company, instead of going through an interpreter. A growing number of cities such as New York's Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities have started using deaf-to-deaf call centers so deaf residents can talk to a local deaf representative. With Google, VTCSecure can provide a communication platform built for deaf people that gives them the autonomy to talk directly with one another without an interpreter and provides immeasurable social benefits.

"When deaf customers realize that they can talk with someone through their native language, sign language, that immediately causes customer retention and loyalty," adds Peter. Additionally, Google allows VTCSecure to provide better call service, create jobs in the deaf community, and save taxpayer money by offering other options to expensive legacy platforms such as telecommunication relay services.

"Our goal has always been to do something global that gives deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals a chance to work and live," says Peter. "With VTCSecure, anybody with an internet connection around the world can now have a call that's optimized for sign language. Google helps us create these connections."

About VTCSecure

VTCSecure offers solutions including Video Relay Service setups, call center infrastructure, and consulting services designed to support members of the deaf and blind communities.

Industries: Technology
Location: United States
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