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CSD Launches Nationwide Call Center and Web Site to Assist Deaf/Hard of Hearing With DTV

With nearly 6 percent of nation's households unready for analog to digital television transition, CSD to focus on awareness campaign for deaf and hard of hearing viewers

In January, CSD announced that it had been awarded a $1.1 million contract from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement an awareness campaign targeted at the nation's deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind consumers in regards to the digital TV (DTV) transition. Recently, both the Senate and House passed the bill to delay the deadline from Feb. 17 to June 12, giving those Americans still on the waiting list (currently 3.2 million) for converter box coupons and those needing technical assistance a reprieve. Although the deadline has moved, CSD has launched both a Help Center (call center) and a new Web site - with "how to" videos in American Sign Language (ASL), captioning and voice for hard of hearing people, and Spanish (captioned and voiced) - to provide that much-needed support today.

As part of the grassroots educational awareness campaign, CSD is creating and releasing deaf-oriented PSAs, disseminating educational materials, answering calls from an established call center, helping viewers get and install converter boxes, educating consumers about the use of DTV closed captioning services, providing technical assistance, and even more. CSD is also working with deaf and hard of hearing organizations like the National Association of the Deaf and the Hearing Loss Association of America to act as an outreach resource in steering consumers with questions to CSD's Help Center.

The Help Center is unlike any other call center in the nation. CSD was chosen by the FCC, in part, because of their expertise in the call center industry (prior Global Call Center of the Year award winner), and, because of their history of working with deaf and hard of hearing individuals. This innovative call center can receive traditional phone calls, and also TTY, relay, video relay, videophone, and CapTel calls. This means that regardless of the level of hearing loss, the Help Center is equipped to handle any call type preference. The Help Center customer support staff consists of both hearing people and those fluent in ASL. Meaning, if a deaf person prefers to "see" and use sign language via videophone to receive customer support, that option is available. Besides phone calls, the Help Center can also answer questions via Instant Message and e-mail.

The new Web site is a quick resource for those needing answers to questions - like do I need a converter box and how can I get one - and like the Help Center, the information is accessible in the visitor's preferred mode. ASL users will find answers in short ASL videos. For those with a partial hearing loss and who don't use sign language, they can see videos complete with audio and captioning and without ASL. Spanish-speaking deaf can find videos both with Spanish captions and voice. Visitors can also find e-mail contacts and Help Center phone numbers, all on the CSD-DTV site, at dtv.c-s-d.org.

"CSD and our outreach partners understand exactly how to effectively communicate with and support the key population of deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind Americans," said Ben Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. "The Help Center and Web site is a vital and multi-faceted resource in the FCC's overall efforts in making sure millions of viewers are not left in the dark after the DTV deadline."

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