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Videophone landing at Aspen airport

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
A public-access videophone " such as the one above " will go online at the Aspen­-Pitkin County Airport in early March. (Contributed photo)
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ASPEN ” Communication just got a little easier for deaf and hard-of-hearing people visit­ing the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

A public-access videophone ” one of three of its kind to be installed in a U.S. air­port, according to county staff ” will go online at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport in early March.

Slated for the baggage claim area, the phone has a standard phone earpiece coupled with a video monitor and key­board.



Using the Internet, a deaf or hard-of­hearing caller can communicate with the help of a live, online sign language trans­lator. The caller waits for an available online interpreter, who communicates in sign language with the caller and trans­lates to someone on the other end of the phone.

If a deaf or hard-of-hearing caller using the public phone contacts someone with video phone capabilities, they can com­municate face-to-face through the video screen, according to Steve Schultz, office and properties administrator at the air­port.




“It’s kind of like an upgraded pay phone,” Schultz said.

The new service likely will be a boon to kids visiting the Aspen Camp for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who will be able to contact family members when they arrive in Aspen or if there are any flight delays, Schultz said.

The phone, offered by Miami- based company CSD, costs $7,000, and airport crews could install it as early as March 3, Schultz said.

According to Schultz, the phone also acts as a standard Internet terminal, and visitors can use it to check e-mail or gath­er information.

The service will be free, but the machine also has a slot for credit card calls, Schultz said.

“The National Association for the Deaf [NAD] applauds Aspen-Pitkin County Air­port for providing accessible public com­munication resources,” Nancy J. Bloch, chief executive officer at the NAD, wrote in a press release.

Traditionally, deaf and hard-of-hearing people had to type information to an operator who acted as an interpreter, according to a CSD representative. But in the last few years, communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing has changed, and many people are using video technology, according to company officials.

Public video phones, however, are new. “Aspen-Pitkin leadership embodies the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act in ensuring equal access to communi-c­ation,” Bloch said. “We at the NAD hope that other airports in the United States and around the world will follow the example.”

cagar@aspentimes.com


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