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Meta to bring sign language interpreters into video conversations on portal

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Meta

Highlights:

  • Meta adds signal language interpreters for Portal video calls.
  • To bring this new feature social media giant has collaborated with ZP.
  • People who are Deaf or hard of hearing can apply to receive a Portal device for free at portal.zpvrs.com.

Meta  has added video relay services (VRS) to its Portal video calling devices, to bring English or Spanish sign language interpreters into video conversations. Sign language is the primary language for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community, so the addition provides a new level of accessibility to Portal calls. To bring this new feature social media giant has collaborated with ZP Better Together, a tech firm that makes communication solutions for deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

Mike Shebanek, Meta Head of Accessibility said in a statement

“ZP and Meta are introducing a powerful new experience for people who use Sign Language. The combination of ZP’s apps and video relay service with the Portal’s AI-powered Smart Camera, that automatically keeps people in frame is game-changing. It delivers simplicity, connectivity, and the freedom to move and communicate using both hands.”

The move could help Meta corner video calling for those with hearing issues, of course, but that doesn’t change the vital role it could serve for some people. While smart displays have long been useful for calls between sign language users, this expansion could help the hard of hearing communicate with virtually anyone. That’s particularly important during a pandemic, when in-person interpreters might not be available.

Aside from the smart display itself, you’ll need a ZP account and the P3 or Z5 application from the Portal App Store. Deaf or hard-of-hearing folks can apply online to receive a free Portal—complete with access to Messenger, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, as well as augmented reality filters, interactive Story Time, and streaming entertainment platforms.

 

Once the user has their ZP account and their Portal, the ASL interpreter service can be accessed through ZP’s apps available in the Portal App Store. The American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters appear on-screen during Portal calls and are available 24/7, the company said in a news release.

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