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 Members Representing
Carl Amos, Ed.D Hearing Relay Users
Robbin Blankenship, VRAC Vice-Chair, 2015 – 2017 Speech to Speech (STS) Relay Users
William Hess Voice Carry-Over Users
Ann Olliff Virginia Association of DeafBlind (VADB)
Betti Thompson, VRAC Chair, 2015 -2017 Internet (IP) Relay Users
Arva Priola Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
Helen Justice Virginia Association of the Deaf (VAD)
Valerie Luther Captioned Telephone Relay User
Mani Aguilar, Au.D Speech and Hearing Association of Virginia (SHAV)
Linda Wallace Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Virginia Chapters
Barclay Shepard Hearing Relay Users
Lisa Harbour Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA)
John Slone Video Relay User
Non-Voting Members Job Title
Gary W. Talley, VDDHH VDDHH Outreach Programs
Lauren Cramer, Hamilton Relay Hamilton Relay Accounts Manager
Vacant, Hamilton Relay Virginia CapTel Outreach Coordinator
Paul Stuessy, Hamilton Relay Virginia Relay Outreach Coordinator