It still seems miraculous for Tami Richardson-Nelson: She can use her smartphone to call her son from Walmart and see if he needs anything.
At work at Creighton University, she can use a phone to call and order office supplies.
And at home over the weekend, she can ring up her friends to organize softball games and Husker football parties.
None of this used to be possible for Richardson-Nelson and other deaf people, who for years had to rely on other people to make a call for them, or use clunky TTY typing machines that transmit words, but with a delay and without emotion.
New high-tech video telephone technology from companies with operations in Omaha lets Richardson-Nelson make calls any time, from anywhere, in her own language — sign language.
“I can do anything that you can do now, because of this technology,” she said through an interpreter. “You have a phone, I have a phone.”
The companies that provide these services say the new avenues of communication are available thanks to evolving video technology, high-speed internet connections and, often, software and hardware engineers who are deaf or have a deaf family member and seek to make their lives better.