GTL Brings Video Relay Service to Inmate Calls

RESTON, Va. — Thanks to GTL, a correctional technology, education and government payment services provider, deaf or hard-of-hearing inmates can more easily sign “I just called to say I love you” to their phone call recipients.

The Reston-based company has integrated a Video Relay Service (VRS) into its nationally deployed inmate telephone system platform. Using video, the new integration permits deaf and the hard of hearing to communicate via American Sign Language (ASL) either in conversation with another ASL interlocuter or through an interpreter. The VRS is intended to be used as a complement to conventional teletypewriter (TTY) devices.

“The VRS application is completely integrated into our phone platform in order to give facilities a solution that has all the same security features of GTL’s traditional ITS phone calls,” said Brian Deuster, GTL Product Manager, Video Initiatives, in a statement.

In practical terms, the VRS application enables two types-of-use case scenarios — the first connects two deaf or hard of hearing parties through video, which enables signing between inmates and the call recipient; the second scenario occurs when a deaf or hard of hearing inmate and a non-deaf call recipient is connected through VRS video interpreter who uses ASL. No matter the call type, correctional personnel remain able to monitor calls.

“As we continue to grow our offerings, we are focused on solutions that simplify the work of correctional facility staff,” said Brian Peters, vice president of Facility Product Management, in a statement. “GTL’s solution allows for live monitoring, recording and storing of all VRS calls for use in investigations, if necessary. Only inmates who have been granted access to VRS will see the application on our devices. All the same call control and security enforcement measures, such as the use of PIN, approved numbers, restricted numbers, call lengths, etc., available for traditional telephone calls now carry over to VRS calls. Facilities can have greater confidence in the safety, security and compliance measures associated with GTL’s integrated VRS compared to other solutions.”

GTL provides services to more than 2 million inmates in more than 2,500 correctional facilities in North America, including more than 30 U.S. departments of corrections, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons among other city and county facilities.