Merger Combines Deaf Services

G.M. Corrigan, The Examiner
WASHINGTON – D.C.-based Visual Language Interpreting, Inc., which specializes in providing sign language interpretation for the deaf, will merge with national captioning leader Caption First, Inc. in early 2007.

“A very unique thing about our [merged] company,” said VLI’s Director of Business Development Brian Somers, “is that we are going to be the first company out there that has expertise in both captioning and sign language interpreting,”

VLI is a 20-employee, $6 million-in-sales company, which provides individualized, at-office or other public event sign language interpreting services to employees at private firms and federal agencies.

Clients include the Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Defense.

With a branch office in Denver, Caption First offers conference and remote (via the Internet) individualized captioning services to U.S. and international clients, including employees at Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Department of Education, and the Office of Thrift Supervision. Caption First has nine employees and $2.4 million in sales annually. Each company also maintains a stable of independent contractors.

There are an estimated 28 million deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the U.S., comprising a communication access market of upwards of $100 million, according to Caption First co-owner Phil Hysong. The combined operation is expected to reach $10 million in sales once the merger is complete.

Frank Bowe, professor of assistive technology at New York’s Hofstra University, who has participated in Caption First-assisted conferences, welcomed the merger.

Noting that such conferences also employed signing specialists – often provided by VLI – Bowe said, “What this merger does is to offer conference sponsors and organizers a one-stop shop through which to secure both kinds of services.”

A name has not yet been selected for the combined operation, but the merged company’s headquarters will be in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2006, Examiner. All Rights Reserved.

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