That "situation" was the public relations debacle that ensued earlier in December, when the purported sign language interpreter assigned to translate Obama's remarks at the funeral for former South African President Nelson Mandela was exposed as a fraud.
His "signs" had been little more than gibberish to the hearing impaired watching in person and on TV. The incident embarrassed Obama and outraged the deaf community, which has long struggled to overcome isolation.
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While the incident was a setback in that struggle, Musano and his company, Convo, have been working for several year to improve the ability of the deaf to communicate with the hearing—and in ways that can broaden their career options.
Convo's technology, known as a video relay service, or VRS, lets a deaf or hearing-impaired person call a hearing one via a smartphone or Internet-enabled computer and talk to the other person through an American Sign Language interpreter.
There are several other VRS providers for the deaf, including Sorensen, Purple, Communication Axess Ability Group and Global VRS. Their services, like those of privately held Convo, are government-subsidized, so calls are free to users.
Andrew Phillips, a lawyer in the Law and Advocacy Center of the National Association of the Deaf, said, "NAD believes that VRS has been a great equalizer for deaf and hard-of-hearing people as it has given them independence to easily contact their children's schools, work colleagues and places of business.
"VRS allows a more natural and real-time conversation through telecommunications for ASL-fluent individuals," he said. "Convo ... and the other VRS providers enable our community to have access to telecommunication services on nearly equal footing."
Convo's marketing strategy is to differentiate itself by focusing on the fact that it is owned by deaf people and that provides an app designed by deaf people.
Founded in 2009, the company also touts that it trains its interpreters to convey the mood and tone of a call's participants.
The goal is for the translator to effectively "disappear" from the conversation, Musano said. "We train the interpreter to 'be' the person."