For Immediate Release
Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Communication access is expanding for residents of South Dakota, as a new program begins for Deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired residents. Beginning April 1, 2019, Mobile Communication Access (MCA) and its communication services will be made widely available to qualified South Dakota residents at no cost for the first 90 days, and beyond that for a subsidized price of just $5/month.
MCA is a subscription based mobile app service that delivers the most comprehensive communication accessibility service available. Subscribers to MCA will be able to access over 150 spoken languages, automated captioning for the hard of hearing, American Sign Language video interpreting for the Deaf and spoken video assistance for the blind.
This has been years in the making and the culmination of a lifetime of experience,” explains seasoned telecommunications executive Benjamin J. Soukup, a lifelong resident of South Dakota who himself is Deaf. “We ran trials through the South Dakota Department of Human Services that demonstrated there was a clear need for this service and a solution in place. We’re proud to announce that what was an experiment has matured into a fully-fledged communication access app.”
The Mobile Video Interpreting Service pilot program took place in 2018 and allowed MCA to demonstrate its solutions and long-term plans for filling gaps in communication access to South Dakota officials. After the MVIS trial concluded, the program was expanded to include people with other disabilities.
President Kevin Barber explains that the individual access to ASL interpreting services on a per-minute basis is unprecedented. “There are many places that mandate interpreting services due to legal requirements, so interpreting agencies cater to those needs. There are very few companies looking to provide communication services in those short but still important moments such as interactions while shopping in the store or talking with a bank teller.”
It’s very important that we have these types of access programs for people with disabilities, because these very technologies and services that we’re providing are oftentimes a means for greater economic independence,” explains Soukup. “We’re looking to expand access everywhere. The ability to interact with others allows us to not only be better neighbors but contributing members of a community. Having this funding helps put these enabling technologies within reach of the economically disadvantaged.”
MCA is available on most internet-connected devices including mobile phones, tablets, laptops and computers. Individuals may apply at https://MobileAccess.us/South-Dakota/.