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Americans With Disabilities Act: Emergency Response Systems and Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf

NCJ Number
Date Published
Paula N. Rubin, Toni Dunne
Publication Series
NIJ Research in Action
This study reports on the results and lessons learned from an evaluation of Denver's telephone emergency response services and its telecommunications-devices-for-the-deaf (TDD) capabilities in answering 911 calls.
The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that telephone emergency response services, including 911 services, provide direct access to people who use TDD's and computer modems. The study of Denver's emergency system examined existing operations. The staff answered more than 50 questions regarding a range of areas, including an overview of operations, equipment, procedures, and training. Findings show that the emergency center has standard operating procedures for TDD calls as well as for handling silent calls. The center's employees are trained to use the TDD equipment and are familiar with the law and its requirements. In addition, test calls are occasionally made to telecommunicators to gauge whether they are responding to these calls in compliance with standard operating procedures. The study found areas for improvement, however. Saving telecommunicators a trip from their customary station to the TDD equipment would help cut delays and possible misunderstanding by the caller using a TDD. No system exists for regularly testing the TDD equipment. Further training of staff would be helpful, along with refresher and practice sessions. Lessons drawn from this study focus on equipment, operations, training, and how to identify a TDD call. Glossary and a list of resources
Date Created: July 10, 2000