A hearing impaired Alexander couple battling their internet provider for years, is pushing for better service.
A poor internet connection is a major problem for people who are deaf and rely on video phones and other services for communication. Advocates say this issue is affecting families across the state,
Connect Arkansas. an agency pushing to increase access across Arkansas says the majority of the state, between 92 to 100-percent, have broadband access but the problem continues to be quality. And it's hitting families, relying on newer technology for parts of everyday life.
When JulieAnn Chavez calls her mom, she speaks, then watches her mother's response through an interpreter. Born hearing impaired, she eventually became totally deaf and now relies on video phones that require high speed internet.
"It allows me to be an independent individual," she says.
But since she moved to Arkansas, she says she hasn't had consistent access.
"That has always been the one thing that concerns me, being completely shut off for any access communication," she says.
Like the visual intercoms at the Arkansas School for the Deaf, video phones are critical for hearing impaired individuals.
"Just being able to call and make a doctor appointment for me is so simple but if a deaf person does not have a video phone they're not able to do that," says Lonya Robertson, Elementary Principal for the Arkansas School for the Deaf.
Maps on the Connect Arkansas website show the majority of the state has internet access, but the types and quality vary.
School leaders say it's been a major issue for rural families.
"I hear students say they don't have high speed internet, they don't have video phones, they can't call parents," says Robertson.
For Chavez, a diabetic, no video phone means having no way to call for help. That's why she's been fighting with her service provider, AT&T, hoping for more of the consistent coverage she's paying for, and peace of mind.
"I think this is a need," she says.
After losing service for a week, Chavez saw hers return last night, but says she's had issues receiving help, because her call was transferred through a video phone and that was considered a third party. We're checking into that.
AT&T has the following resources to help disabled customers: