VRI Is Not a Suitable Substitute for a Live Interpreter

If you are Deaf you have seen it. If you are are hearing, you may have heard of it. If you are cutting costs at a medical facility, you are probably trying to use it. What is it?

VRI, or Video Remote Interpreter. 

Coin counters and budget managers worship it. Deaf and hard-of-hearing folks cringe at its mention, and tend to run in the other direction. 

ASL, or American Sign Language is a visual language. It is 3-dimensional in the very least. VRI is not. VRI utilizes a 2-dimensional platform via telephony and video presentation on a simple TV screen. Maybe not a TV screen. Some facilities push VRI on iPads. 

VRI doesn’t work. It is not prosody, not offering equal access to communication. It leads to misunderstandings, and in medical settings, this is life or death stuff. It is a choice of last resort. 

See NAD’s (National Association of the Deaf) Position Paper – NAD Position Paper on VRI

People have been medically damaged due to the use of VRI. Some deaf folks are suing hospitals proactively – Pregnant Woman Sues Hospital Over VRI

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, you have rights. 

You have the right to refuse VRI and demand a live, on-site interpreter!!

Do not let these medical institutions bully you. 

Exercise your rights. Refuse VRI. Demand a live, on-site interpreter. 


Dr. Daniel B. Swartz, CI, CT, SC:L, ED:K-12

President, 360 Translations

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