An Open Letter to Interpreters
By Brandi Rarus
Z has been a part of my life longer than it has been the “Z”. Z and I first met before VRS* became an FCC recognized program. Back in 2000, I was working for Sprint Relay and we worked with the state of Texas and Washington to implement the first VRS pilot. As VRS grew the local agency in Austin, named Hanwave, partnered with Sprint to operate a small VRS center. In these early days, VRS was an unknown as far as costs and technology and nobody in the industry was jumping in to support it. Except for Ben Soukup at CSD.** Ben saw beyond costs. He saw an opportunity for greater telecommunications access. He knew before anyone else that VRS was the future. Putting aside any fear or cost or unknown technology, Ben acquired Hanwave so that CSD would have firsthand experience with VRS.
Shortly after that, my husband Tim and I relocated to Sioux Falls so that Tim could head the VRS program for CSD. That was named CSDVRS. For a short while the CSDVRS outreach program was under my wing. Tim, on the other hand, was involved in every aspect of the VRS product. His passion for VRS never wavered. He loved CSDVRS.
And, there you have been – so many of you – as my ears and my voice as I have gone about my personal and professional life.
Eventually CSD sold its VRS program and CSDVRS was moved to Clearwater where Tim assumed the role of the VP of sales. I left Sioux Falls with him and our four young children and became a stay at home mom. I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat view of the birth of Z. I watched as investments were made to technology. I witnessed the birth of the Z brand. Saw how Z video mail changed the VRS industry. Let’s not forget Z alert- finally deaf people had a way to know a call was coming in. I was there when Z made its first mobile VRS call ever at the Deaf Nation Expo in Las Vegas. There have been so many wonderful innovations by this company. I have witnessed great growth and change. Yet, the one thing that has NEVER changed and remains true to this day is that Z has the best interpreters in the industry.
That’s a fact.
This awesome technology can only be as good as the interpreters who do the call. It’s the interpreter that can make or break you and I know that the Z team not only understands this, but embraces it. At Z, quality interpreting is more than just an attitude. It’s a way of life.
The Z Life.
And, there you have been- so many of you- as my ears and my voice as I have gone about my personal and professional life these last eight years. My five year journey into writing Finding Zoe was done through a great many ZVRS calls. Hours and hours of calls that is. I put everything I had into that project. And, I could never have done it without you.
It doesn’t end there. Members of the Z interpreting team have done my Kickstarter campaign, done live TV interviews with me, traveled to Dallas to do meetings with my publisher, done interviews through the internet, and supported me to the end. So many of you have gone above and beyond interpreting. You have reached out to me with ideas on how we can promote Finding Zoe or just offered me words of support.
Thank You for being such a great bunch and for understanding the importance of quality interpreting. Thank You for being the best there is and for embracing everything there is about the Z Life. I am so proud to have been a part of this team and to have witnessed your growth and your success. I so believe in everything you stand for and I want you to know that you come to work each day and do make a difference.