Open letter to Jason Curry, sComm CEO

(To learn more about this open letter, go here.)

March 30, 2015

Mr. Curry:

Thank you for the video you released on Friday, March 27, clarifying sComm’s position on having the UbiDuo replace interpreters specifically in child abuse cases.

My goal is to ensure that accurate information is shared with everyone, deaf or hearing, and that nobody has any communication options forced upon him or her. I would like to invite sComm to share in this goal.

However, many of the comments on the sComm Facebook page have been deleted, including several I posted, such as this one:IMG_6636 2

I would like to understand why they were deleted. A tough part of any business is dealing with customer feedback, positive or negative. Deleting messages can be counterproductive, and implies that sComm does not welcome feedback from the very community it serves.

Additionally, there seems to be quite a history of sComm’s position on “replacing” interpreters with the UbiDuo and the continued implication that deaf and hard of hearing people cannot function independently; this dates back to at least January 2012, as shown in this YouTube video at around the three-minute mark where you are shown typing “deaf and hard of hearing people have to go everywhere with an interpreter” to a reporter.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.14.32 AM

I also have numerous other screenshots, submitted by people, showing similar messages made by sComm representatives and/or you.

While I won’t repeat the long list of issues and suggestions mentioned on my Facebook page or website, I would like to invite you to release an official statement stating sComm’s position on interpreters as a valuable communication tool (or even necessity). I would also like to invite you to share sComm’s updated marketing strategy and how the UbiDuo will be illustrated as one of many options, rather than the only option, available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please note I am not including deafblind people here, as many have told me that the UbiDuo is inaccessible to them. I also encourage sComm to add a statement to its website clearly stating that the UbiDuo should never be considered a replacement for those who prefer to work with interpreters.

Furthermore, I would like to know if sComm intends to take down the Communiphobia video and all other videos and posts that demean American Sign Language and interpreters indirectly or directly. Finally, I welcome an apology from sComm, and you personally, to the deaf and interpreting communities for the insurmountable harm and countless misconceptions that sComm has created, and sComm’s commitment to remedying this.

From a deaf business owner to another, I implore you to please remember that whether we like it or not, any message you share with your clients will have an indirect, and direct, effect on each and every member of the deaf community, including my four children and me. People like you and me are shaping their futures, and it’s crucial that we do this correctly and respectfully.

I look forward to positive changes.

Sincerely,

Trudy Suggs

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Comments

  1. Michele Westfall says:

    Beautifully said, Trudy! Jason Curry, listen up. I’m Deaf and I agree with everything she said in her letter. Your company has NO RIGHT…I repeat, NO RIGHT to mandate that your product be the *only* product used for accessibility purposes. Jason, what your company is doing is unethical and unacceptable.

  2. Louis Schwarz says:

    Jason, when I met you first time, you demonstrated the prototype to me and mentioned that it will replace the interpreter whenever you carry the dual devices with you at all times. You know I never bought your devices for years because of two reasons – one is to carry the bulky devices in addition to my portable TDD and second is to substitute for the interpreter’s need. Now I have my Android phone where I can use VRI – very convenient and when necessary. However, back to your attitude regarding the interpreter, why cannot you survive the world without the interpreter when the Ubi-Duo is impossible especially in the meetings, classrooms, with medical staff, and so forth. It is the time for you to tell to public that using Ubi-Duo is an option, not the replacement. Let the hearing people understand the rights of us, DEAF people, not listening to your high pressure approach using the key word, “replacement”. Also, more and more people are using the video mans, i.e., Tango, Glide, Hangout, nTouch, Z5, Purple3, Convo, etc. and reduce relying on text messages! I applaud (hand waves high) Trudy Suggs for making this message LOUD and CLEAR to sComm.

  3. He already made that video which covers the official position of sComm and clarify comments in question. I’d be surprised if he bothers to respond to your letter.

    BTW, this is interesting stuffs you should look into…..it mentions several communication access, including Ubi-Duo… I am sure all hospitals, law enforcement and other entities will be held liable if they do not understand ADA law.

    http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/files/ada/11_ADA_Hospital_Compliance_Guidelines.pdf

    It is the job of entities to follow the law. It is also the job of deaf consumers to remind entities that they have to follow the law. Any company is free to market a communication access that does not necessarily FIT all deaf/hoh people’s communication access needs.

  4. Dawn Schriver says:

    Well written letter, Trudy. Mr. Curry, if you’re reading this, I truly hope you would take this into consideration to better yourself and the deaf community. Personally, I would not be bothered with UbiDuo after what I have seen on your Facebook page, but I would be willing to give you a second chance if you ‘own it up’ and make changes that UbiDuo can be one of options for deaf consumers to use. We should never be restricted to one and only option. We are not ‘one size fits all.’ We are such a colorful community and we come from different walks of life. An apology should be given with a good conscience, that’s only if you have it.

  5. Yes. Exactly. Thank u

  6. Lisa Covell says:

    I agree with Ttudy’s open letter she wrote to you. Please consider to what she had said. There are many deaf people who can not write or type because they have tremors in their hands. My husband can not write or type because the tremor in his hands that prevents him from doing it. He communates in ASL very well and he needs and will always need an ASL interpreter. Please do not prevent him any one like him from getting any option. Thank you.

  7. elizabeth gillespie says:

    if an entity forces a deaf/hoh person to use only one particular device based on the fraudulent claims of the company, yes, it can be legally accountable for its actions with dept of justice. the company can also sue the manufacturer for its false statements, misleading the company to think it’s fully accessible when it isn’t. the deaf/hoh people whose civil rights are violated by the entity also has this legal option to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for defrauding the entity and leading it to violate the person’s civil rights.

  8. Robert Crowell says:

    Well said, Trudy! I suspect that SComm is desperate to sell its product and they start talking like used-car salesman. I am turned off by SComm’s wordings. PLUS, SComm is TOO EXPENSIVE to buy!!!

  9. Richard Brklacich says:

    Wouldn’t a $199 netbook be a better option, not to mention much cheaper with more features? On top of typing, it can also say everything out loud. We had one deaf guy do that during a conference call. This was awesome, he was able to explain precisely what he wanted.

    I can imagine it is cumbersome to type back and forth during a lengthy conversation. I would get bored. At a hotel during a conference, there was a UbiDuo but the line formed around where the ASL interpreter was. That clearly shows deaf people are more comfortable using ASL interpreters. A 5-minute conversation in ASL translates to about an hour on UbiDuo.

    sComm insistence on its $2,0000 device as the “best” option is sleazy and unethical. Just now, they are conceding there are other options, why didn’t they do that before?

  10. Karen Mayes says:

    Kuddos to your open letter. From my experiences at the hospitals in the last few years, the interpreters are better at channeling the emotions of the speakers and the listeners, something which UbiDuo fails to. Hopefully you’d take Trudy’s advice and make clear that the usage of UbiDuo is just one of the options, not the only option.

  11. Coco Cabral says:

    I agree with Trudy’s comments regards to the open letter. because I am Deaf and i chose ASL interpreter over writing forth and back because It is easy for me to express easily. There is great optional for Deaf and Hard of Hearing’s communication access which is important for them instead of one optional like Trudy’s comment. I am hoping Jason Curry’ to open his heart and listen to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community’s expression regarding to communication access. Think about our Deaf children’ s bright future.
    Thank you for your time

  12. Thanks, Trudy for initiating the communication to sComm on why it’s wrong on many levels to feed doctors and the public with manipulative information that is unfounded and distorted. Secondly, Jason is doing the sales pitch with his monopolistic behavior on UbiDuo product that he is a stakeholder with.

  13. Dave Eaker says:

    Thank you for sending the message to Jason. We are waiting his words responsing

    Thank you again !

  14. Peggy Virnig Mnich says:

    Gina, have you seen the comment in which Jason said that UbiDuo is a better tool than interpreters and should replace them? He was asked whether he was serious, and his reply is, “Yes, we are.” Have you read that?? Hell no, UbiDuo SHOULD NOT replace sign language interpreters AT ALL!!! Please pull your head out of the sand and face the reality. sComm is LYING and MISLEADING the public. Geez!

  15. Diane Plassey Gutierrez says:

    Unfortunately, Jason, the people here are more representative of the community than you believe. They are people who want full access to their choices of communication and do not want to be limited to the UbiDuo by circumstance. Advertising your product as a replacement for other means of communication is unethical and misleading. It harms the community that you are also a member of…besides seriously undercutting your standing and credibility. To restore your position, all of these misleading videos need to be pulled and replaced with videos that emphasize your product as an “option” for communication. All information should include a statement that the UbiDuo is not a replacement for any other means of communication in order to protect your company from liability.

  16. Jose Jimanez says:

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