Frequently Asked Questions
Canada VRS is for Deaf, Hard of Hearing or speech-impaired Canadians who wish to make telephone calls using Internet and cell-phone based technologies. VRS callers connect with a sign language interpreter who provides real time interpretation for these calls.
To register, you must be a Deaf, Hard of Hearing or speech-impaired Canadian who uses sign language.
Hearing callers cannot register for Canada VRS apps. However, they may call registered customers.
Canada VRS is free to use.
Yes. Canada VRS offers 9-1-1 support across Canada in both ASL/English and LSQ/French. All 9-1-1 calls are treated as urgent, go directly to first place in the Canada VRS queue and are answered within 30 seconds.
The Video Interpreter (VI) and emergency personnel will always confirm the customer’s location. That’s why it’s important that Canada VRS customers keep their home address up to date in the app. Note, the call is connected to the Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) based on the customer’s location.
Once the location and nature of the emergency is determined, the PSAP dispatches either fire, police or medical responders.
The VI stays with the caller and assists the emergency services personnel as long as they are needed.
Because Canada VRS is internet or data service based, emergency calls made via VRS may not properly connect. For example, if there is an internet or data service failure or if you lose electrical power. Also, your 9-1-1 call may not be routed correctly if you have not updated your physical location information.
If you experience a technical problem dialing 9-1-1 via Canada VRS, hang up and re-dial. If you continue to experience technical difficulties, you may wish to try alternative services such as; landline telephone with TTY, Text 9-1-1, Relay Services or IP Relay.
Yes. Customers can receive calls from anywhere in the world.
Customers may also call any 10-digit number in most locations in the U.S. without charge. However, if an area in the U.S. is not covered, (e.g. Alaska and Hawaii), the caller must use a long distance or international calling card to complete and pay for the call.
When using a calling card with VRS, you must dial the calling service number first and follow their instructions. Please make sure the calling card you select works with VOIP (internet based) services and/or cell phone services.
Point-to-Point calls between Canadian and U.S VRS applications are not possible at this time. Canada VRS suggests Skype or Facetime as an alternative way to communicate Point-to-Point.
Calls to 900 and other “Pay-for-Service” numbers including some 800, 888, 877 and 866 numbers cannot be made through Canada VRS.
Not yet. Canada VRS’s primary focus is for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and speech-impaired individuals to register for personal use. However, customers can register for a 2nd account and get a 10-digit number for business use.
Note, Canada VRS cannot be used to support business or employment activities that rely on phone services. For example: telemarketing, phone-based customer service or other support services, phone sales or repetitive confirmation calling, or other types of heavy or repetitive calling which may be deemed excessive by CAV.
Yes. If you have Internet service, you can use Canada VRS the same way as if you were in Canada. That said, if you’re using a mobile device, roaming charges may be significant.
Like texting and driving, using Canada VRS while driving is not permitted. However, you are permitted to use the app as a passenger.
Many banks, healthcare facilities and government offices require your consent to communicate personal information through a Video Interpreter (VI).
Canada VRS has prepared a form to provide consent in these situations.
Services like 2-1-1, 3-1-1, 5-1-1 and 8-1-1 are location based and not compatible with Voice Over IP (VoIP) technologies like VRS.
To reach one of these services, use TTY. Unlike VoIP, TTY is telephone based. Some cities even have direct TTY lines.
The only way to access these services through VRS is to search online for the 10-digit telephone number of each service in your region.
Time limits are in place so heavy use does not impact the experience of other users by increasing wait times or placing heavy demands on VIs.
Please be mindful, Canada VRS is not a substitute for community-based interpreting or video remote interpreting (VRI) services. For calls lasting longer than 90 minutes, customers should hire a sign language interpreter or VRI service.
VRI is a fee-based interpreting service that lets customers communicate with others either in the same room or remotely using video interpretation services.
VRI is especially useful for scenarios such as: hospital or health care situations, business meetings and more. When you hire a VRI service, you are getting high quality interpreting services just like having an in-person interpreter. There are many VRI companies available across Canada.
Transferring is a way to keep interpreters healthy and safe, as well as help keep your wait times down.
As you know, signing can be tiring. Generally, VRS interpreters sign for 20-30 minutes depending on the call before needing a break. If they need a break, the interpreter may transfer the call. This allows you to continue the call without going back into the queue.
Transfers may also occur if an interpreter is ending their shift. If you call with less than 15 minutes before the interpreter’s shift ends, they will let you know there will be a transfer.
Because every call features new people and a new topic, interpreters must adapt quickly and efficiently. When an interpreter is on a long call or many calls are waiting, the interpreter may postpone their scheduled break to help customers. In these cases, the interpreter will transfer the call when they can.
There are a lot of variables in the call centre at any given time and as a result, interpreters may transfer calls at odd or unpredictable moments. In cases where you require special attention or uninterrupted service, consider hiring a community-based interpreter or VRI service.
Voice Carry Over (VCO) allows Deaf, Hard of Hearing and speech-impaired users to speak for themselves in VRS calls. When the VCO feature is enabled on the user’s app, it allows the customer’s voice to be heard by the other party. When the other party responds, the Video Interpreter signs in ASL or LSQ. The VCO option can be enabled in the user’s app Settings screen.
Customers who experience difficulty with banks and other financial institutions accepting a VRS call may file a complaint with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Click here to learn more: https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/complaints.html