The Remarkable Tech Bringing the Deaf and Hearing Worlds Together
By MATT SIMON.June 27, 2016
THE PIZZERIA’S PHONE rings, but it doesn’t make a sound.
Instead, on the shelf below, green lights flash. Waiters scurry by. A few paces away, a cook with a big wooden paddle shoves pizzas into a bulbous oven. The lights flash again, and Melody Stein picks up.
“Hi, this is Melody from Mozzeria,” she says. “OK, sure thing. What would you like to order?”
Melody is deaf. As are the waiters and the cooks. Yet any one of them can communicate with a hearing person over the phone.
Call Mozzeria and the system will route you, the hearing person, to an interpreter at a “video relay service.” The interpreter listens to what you say and signs it to Melody, who’s watching on the restaurant’s iPad. Then the interpreter speaks Melody’s response back to you. Back and forth, until you’ve placed your order or made your reservation. And if you don’t find that to be absolutely marvelous, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you.