Virginia Relay Advisory Council

During the 2001 General Assembly, Virginia Relay users sought passage of legislation to establish an advisory group for the federally-mandated telecommunications service. Recognizing the importance of the issues raised, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing worked with the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Legislators, and a roundtable of Consumers to establish the VA Relay Advisory Council (VRAC).

Since their first meeting, the Council has established by-laws, elected competent officers, and worked closely with VDDHH to establish a successful statewide educational and outreach campaign for Virginia Relay. The Council also assists VDDHH with the oversight of the current relay contracts and serves as a consumer-based focus group for development and testing of new relay features and services.

The success of the VRAC has been due in large part to the diversity of its membership and their representation of a cross-section of relay users. Council members include representatives from the Virginia Association of the Deaf (VAD), a Virginia Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), the Virginia Association of Deaf Blind (VADB), a Center for Independent Living (CIL), and the Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV). Council members also include a VCO relay user, a CapTel relay user, a user of Speech to Speech relay, a VRS user, an Internet relay user, and two hearing individuals that regularly use VA Relay. In addition to these thirteen members, representatives from VDDHH and the current relay contractors also participate in the Council meetings as non-voting members.

 Council Members

Consumer Representing Organization or Relay Users
Lisa Harbour, Chair Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)
William Hess, Vice Chair Voice Carry Over Users
Linda Wallace Greater Richmond Chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America (GRC-HLAA)
Kerry Byrne Virginia Centers for Independent Living
Rebecca Ladew Speech to Speech (STS) Users
Barclay Shepard Hearing Relay Users
VACANT Internet / Wireless Relay Users
Jenny McKenzie Virginia Association of DeafBlind (VADB)
Christine Ross Video Relay Service (VRS) Users
Paige Berry Hearing Relay Users
Teresa Ritzert Captioned Telephone Service (CTS) Relay Users
Alissa Conover Virginia Association of the Deaf
Karen Darner Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV)
Non-Voting Members Job Title
Eric Raff, VDDHH Director
Gary Talley, VDDHH Community Services Manager
Mary C. Nunnally, DARS Program Manager, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services
Christa Cervantes, Hamilton Relay Accounts Manager for Virginia Relay
Eric Alvillar Virgina Relay Outreach Coordinator
Diane Devaney, Devaney & Associates, Inc. Public Relations and Marketing for Virginia Relay