(Transcript from the CF Program video by Jackie Engler-Morris)
Hello, I am Jackie Engler-Morris and I am a Program Coordinator over three different programs here at DBSC. The first one I’m going to describe is the Communication Facilitor, or ‘CF’ Program. A CF is a sighted person, whether they be hearing or Deaf, who uses tactile sign with the DeafBlind person so they can access a screen device, like a Video Phone (VP) to make phone calls. It could be through any webcam device: a computer, ipad or iphone. DeafBlind people can use technology to make phone calls, like to their doctor, dentist or hair-cutter to make appointments. Calls may go through VRS (Video Relay Service) and the CF would relay information to the DB individual while making those contacts. A CF can also be used for a DB person who wants to use FaceTime to chat with their friends, either one-to-one with a group though a Zoom meeting; the CF would provide the tactile input so they can chat with their friends. This type of service can also be used for Telemedicine. A Medical CF or ‘MCF’ would provide access for a patient who may not be able to go in to see their doctor in person, or prefers to stay home rather than going into a clinic. This provides DB people with choices. They can use Telemedicine through Zoom or another platform with their health care provider using a MCF. The MCF sees the signs (through VRS if it’s a phone call) and translates or interprets this to the DB person so they can discuss their medical issues.
The Communication Facilitator (CF) Program enables deafblind individuals to access videophones (VP) and video relay services (VRS). DBSC is contracted with the State of Washington’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to provide CF services and video communication awareness for deafblind community members. DBSC is the first and only agency in the United States to provide a CF program.
What is a Communication Facilitator (CF)?
A communication facilitator, or CF, is a skilled signer who copies sign language from a caller as shown on a videophone screen, and provides visual information to a deafblind person through close vision or tactile sign language during VRS and/or face-to-face calls. CF service also benefits deafblind individuals by allowing them to freely express themselves in their own language and to communicate directly without worrying about English being their second language.
DBSC trains both CFs and CF users and coordinates services. CF service can be provided upon request at the deafblind person’s home, in public places such as Starbucks or the library, at DBSC, the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, or the DVR office in Yakima.
CF’s are not employees of DBSC. They are paid, independent contractors who commit to provide CF services to a deafblind individuals. CFs are paid an hourly rate by DBSC for these services.
For more information about this program, please contact Program Coordinator, Jackie Engler-Morris.