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
L. Karen Darner Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV)
Kerry E. Byrne Virginia Centers for Independent Living
Lisa F. Harbour  VRAC Chair Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA)
William T. Hess  VRAC Vice Chair Voice Carry-Over Relay Users
Rebecca A. Ladew Speech to Speech Relay Users
Teresa A. Ritzert Captioned Telephone Service Relay Users
Jenny K. McKenzie Virginia Association of DeafBlind (VADB)
Alissa B. Conover Virginia Association of the Deaf (VAD)
Paige E. Berry Hearing Relay Users
VACANT Hearing Relay Users
Christine Ross Video Relay Service Users
Linda G. Wallace
Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Richmond Chapter
Non-Voting Members Job title
Mary C. Nunnally, DARS Program Manager, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services
Christa A. Cervantes, Hamilton Relay Virginia Relay Account Manager
Eric J. Alvillar Virgina Relay Outreach Coordinator