Visually Experiencing a Phone Call: The Calculated Consumer Labor Deaf People Perform to Gain Access through Video Relay Service

Jeremy Brunson


Feminist scholars have suggested a broader conceptualization of work to include paid and unpaid, visible and invisible labor.  Employing this broader conceptualization, this paper examines a new form of service delivery for deaf people, video relay service, as an example of the growing trend in the United States that shifts labor from the service provider to service recipient.  The data discussed in this paper were collected from two focus groups with deaf people who shared their experiences with and feelings about video relay service.  The findings suggest that although video relay service is preferred to text relay service by deaf people, there are still misunderstandings that occur.  And, in responding to those misunderstandings, deaf people must determine whether it is worth their time and energy to confront less than adequate sign language interpreters, hang up and call back in order to get another interpreter, or do nothing.


Deaf; Video Relay Service; VRS; Calculated Consumer Labor; Work

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Copyright (c) 2010 Jeremy Brunson

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