You are currently viewing ZP Better Together – ZVRS & Purple Communications: Mission-Driven Telecommunications Provider  Advocates Equity and Bold Change for the Deaf Community
Sherri Turpin, CEO

ZP Better Together – ZVRS & Purple Communications: Mission-Driven Telecommunications Provider  Advocates Equity and Bold Change for the Deaf Community

ZP Better Together made this article available in American Sign Language. To view the video please, click here:

Behind every venture is a mission that ignites its purpose and ties the business and its customers. A mission that resonates with the public is a prominent factor leading to business growth and serves as a foundation that distinguishes the enterprise from others.

Striving every day to make this world a better, more inclusive and accessible place for the deaf and hard of hearing communities with its services and technology, ZP Better Together dedicates itself to the mission that every conversation matters, and that communication access is a universal human right. A leading provider of communications solutions, including video relay and interpretation services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, ZP Better

Together is deeply committed to ensuring that the deaf community has the same access to 21st century telecommunications that the hearing community takes for granted each and every day.

Sherri Turpin, CEO of ZVRS & Purple Communications, divisions of ZP Better Together (ZP), is a bold social impact leader who led ZP to be recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, 2022) and was named a Best CEO honoree by the Austin Business Journal.

Sherri shared more about her purpose-driven leadership, her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and the mission that is central to ZP’s services in an interview with Insights Success.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

What was the initial idea behind the inception of ZP Better Together?

Today our organization, ZP Better Together LLC, is one of the leading providers of the most innovative communications services for the deaf and hard of hearing community. ZVRS and Purple Communications are divisions of ZP Better Together. In 2017, under my leadership, ZVRS acquired Purple Communications. We wanted to bring together two major providers of Video Relay Services (VRS) and, importantly, create a viable #2 in our industry to ensure increased competition, true provider choice, and expansion of services and product innovation for the deaf community.

Our company’s roots, though, began in 2000 with the national launch of a company by the name of CSDVRS. At its core, CSDVRS was developed “by and for” deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Dedicated to the principle that every conversation matters and that communication access is a universal human right, it put the community first and was the very first organization to commercially develop and perfect video relay applications for deaf and hard of hearing consumers, essentially creating the now-established video relay services industry that we know today.

Today, we are known as ZP Better Together, but our “by and for” the deaf community roots remain central to who we are. This was crystal clear to me from the very start of my leadership journey at ZP in 2015: the critical importance of having deaf talent and deaf leadership alongside me, in partnership with me, educating and guiding me, contributing to ZP’s future path. Today, I am proud to say that 43% of our executive team consists of deaf leaders who know firsthand the experience of the community we serve.

Our founding spirit endures through our unwavering commitment to those we serve and through the provision of the most innovative products and services.

What are the primary objectives and philosophy of ZP Better Together?

Our company’s primary objective is to support the deaf and hard of hearing community’s journey toward a barrier-free communication access world where opportunities and communication access, regardless of whether you’re hearing or deaf, are equal. We are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of each deaf and hard of hearing individual, whether they are at home, at work, at school, or on the go.

In addition to our deep portfolio of innovative products and services, we have a phenomenal team of more than 4,100 professional sign language interpreters, all of whom are qualified or certified and follow the highest standards of service, going above and beyond federal requirements.

Our commitment extends across hardware, software, and in-person solutions within five areas of service: Video Relay Service (VRS), Video Remote Interpreting (VRI), Scheduled Virtual Interpreting (SVI), Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), and On-Site Interpreting. The bedrock of our company’s philosophy is threefold:

  • An unwavering commitment to the belief that every conversation matters
  • An unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion – I am so proud that ZP has been named a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” for three consecutive years (2022, 2021, 2020)
  • An unwavering commitment to ensure true “functional equivalence” in telecommunications for the deaf community – full and equal access to communications is a fundamental human right, and it is past time we delivered this promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act from more than 30 years ago.

I am especially proud of ZP’s leadership and advocacy work over the past several years on functional equivalence.

As part of the “Total Access” ( campaign, I, along with my employees and several prominent leaders from the deaf community (Alexis Kashar, Troy Kotsur, Storm Smith, and Warren “Wawa” Snipe), have been fighting to close the unacceptable communications gaps that still exist for the deaf community today. Things like the lack of full access to E9-1-1 emergency services or the inability to have just one phone number – the very things that the hearing community takes for granted every day.

I will continue to lead this effort and will continue to speak boldly and publicly about this as I have previously at major conferences like SXSW, on Capitol Hill before congressional and policy leaders, and in national media, including Forbes, The Hill, and Vanity Fair. For those who would like to join me and ZP, please visit “Total Access and let the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) know of your support.

What are your top-notch offerings that have a strong foothold in the industry?

ZP has several game-changing products and partnerships. Recently, we launched an innovative collaboration with Meta (formerly Facebook), bringing our popular apps and video relay services to Meta’s state-of-the-art Portal family of products, delivering a powerful new experience to people who use sign language.

  • In 2017, ZP pioneered with the FCC a new “at home” program where for the first-time, sign language interpreters could work from their homes versus only in designated centers. This became crucial to providing uninterrupted services to the deaf community during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
  • We partnered with Apple to offer a comprehensive suite of services to deaf and hard of hearing customers allowing them to integrate various Apple products – iPads, MacBooks, iPhones – with ZP’s full suite of VRS services.
  • In 2020, we launched sivo®, a free interactive app enabling seamless three-way video communications between deaf and hard of hearing individuals, sign language interpreters, and hearing individuals; all parties are “on video” – it was the first solution to offer both real-time video interpreters and availability on all mobile and desktop devices.
  • We partnered with Cisco to integrate VRS services with top industry teleconferencing solutions for both office and home.
  • Our ZP online CloudVP (videophone) solution further democratized VRS access by making it available via web browser without having to download an app, essentially allowing deaf and hard of hearing individuals to place a call anywhere using a browser.
  • We partnered with LinkNYC to provide video relay services, allowing the deaf and hard of hearing community to stay connected through over 17,000 public kiosks throughout New York City.

What are the roadblocks that ZP Better Together faces in the ever-changing landscape of the business world?

One of the major roadblocks we all continue to face is a general lack of awareness and understanding hearing individuals have about the deaf community and the inequities they face when it comes to their everyday communications. Most hearing people simply have no idea of the reality. This includes continued biases and misperceptions hearing people, including many top business leaders, still have about deaf people and sign language.

When it comes to our world and our workplaces, deaf people are still vastly underrepresented. Progress is happening but we have a long way to go yet to ensure our world and our workplaces are truly inclusive and welcoming, that they truly value the talent and contributions of deaf and hard of hearing people, and that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are represented at all levels of a company. We still need so much more education of the hearing community.

This is a main reason why I am committed to two very important initiatives: CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and Disability: IN’s CEOs Are In campaign. CEO Action is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace and Disability: IN is one of the leading organizations in the world driving disability inclusion and equality in business. Both organizations are doing exemplary work and I am so proud to be working with them and the many other CEOs that have joined me as signatories.

Conversations about DEI are easy but actually making the change we all talk about today, changing your organization’s culture, standing up for that change no matter what the obstacles are and seeing it through, is not easy. This transformative change takes a true commitment, bold leadership and a willingness as a leader to get very uncomfortable.

I have been inspired by the work of these two organizations and this collective CEO commitment to diversity and inclusion. Today, while we all still have significant work to do, I remain quite hopeful. As more CEOs and business leaders join us and make the commitment to do the tough work, we will overcome many of the roadblocks we still face today both inside and outside the business world.

How is your company adapting to market orientation?

In many ways, our company, from day one, has been a best practice model for market orientation. Since our inception, ZP has put the deaf consumer front and center and has always developed products prioritized by consumer needs. We did this because, frankly, the mainstream market did not and largely still does not. ZP has been doing this very successfully for a long time.

What is your stance on implementing innovative technologies?

We are all living in the golden age of technology, and yet not all of us have full access to some of the most fundamental communication services. So, underpinning all that ZP does is our steadfast commitment to helping to deliver true functional equivalence for the deaf community. There is no acceptable reason today – not a single one – that a deaf or hard of hearing person shouldn’t be able to easily jump on Zoom for a job interview or have a single phone number or be immediately located by emergency services.

No technology can be innovative if it’s inaccessible or “less than” what others have. Solving this is what drives our innovation and all of us here at ZP every day.

In what traditions is your company contributing to the communities?

In addition to our core business of continually bringing new innovative and accessible communication services to market, ZP also is deeply committed to supporting the deaf communities on both local and national levels. Every year we support and sponsor numerous community events, which have included: DeafNation Expos, DeafNation World Expo, Deafopia, National Association of the Deaf Biennial Conference, Disability: IN Conference, and The Next Big Idea, which is an annual innovation competition for deaf high school and college students at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

We also have supported the Texas School for the Deaf, the American School for the Deaf, New York School for the Deaf (NYSD) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Foundation (NTID); I serve on the board for both NYSD and NTID Foundation. For the past several years, I have teamed with several deaf community leaders to speak publicly and to educate the hearing world about the vital importance of functional equivalence. We have presented on Capitol Hill; we have spoken at top conferences like SXSW, and I continue to discuss this with leading media outlets. We have been working day and night to educate the public, the business community, and congressional and policy leaders so that they fully understand the realities of what the deaf community faces today.

Still today, most hearing people have no idea what a deaf person’s communication experience is really like or how inequitable it truly is. To demonstrate this, we produced a video, click ( that very directly conveys these realities and essentially puts a hearing person in a deaf person’s shoes.

What is the next chapter for ZP Better Together?

In many ways, ZP’s next chapter doesn’t begin until we have successfully helped to rewrite an entirely new book for the deaf community – when we help create a new, far more inclusive world where the deaf community’s fundamental right to communications access is no different than anyone else’s – when deaf and hard of hearing individuals have access to the same 21st century technologies that we all do. When we do this, the possibilities for positive change and impact in our world are, in many ways, limitless. This is the new world, the “next,” that ZP strives for every day. One of the critical pieces to achieving this is the education of more hearing people. The need for greater awareness and understanding is so critical. Only when more hearing people have been educated and become informed allies will our fight for greater communications access, for basic human rights and for a new more inclusive world become fully realized.

Provide a few customer/client testimonials that rightly exhibit your company’s expertise in the market.

I have worked with ZP for about four years and have great respect for Sherri and her bold leadership. With Sherri at the helm, ZP continues to steadily bring state-of-the-art technologies and services to market. But an accomplished CEO only begins to describe Sherri’s bold leadership. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many top executives throughout my career, and without question, few, if any, match Sherri’s deep commitment to equity and inclusion. Sherri’s daily fight to deliver communications equity for the deaf and hard of hearing is truly in a league of its own.”

  • Kevin M. Fitzpatrick, EEO/AA Compliance Director at PepsiCo

ZP has been an instrumental part of the Kinderhook family for many years. From the very beginning we recognized the inequities the deaf community faced every day. Our investment in the community was not only obvious but very intentional. With the right management teams in place and the right leadership we knew that we could help solve the inequities. After acquiring ZVRS, Kinderhook then acquired Purple, strategically bringing together two major providers to expand services and innovation for the community. Today, under Sherri’s leadership, I am proud to say that I firmly believe that ZP is unmatched in its community-first approach and its ongoing advocacy to champion equity and inclusion for the deaf and hard of hearing community.”

  • Chris Michalik, Managing Director of Kinderhook Industries.