A Promising Practice: The Social Security Administration's Broad Dissemination of TTY's and TTY-Enabled Computers

The Social Security Administration has established four TDD units at Teleservice Centers (TSC) to answer toll-free 800 number calls from people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Each TSC has been equipped with computer TDD/modems that are installed in workstations on SSA's IWS/LAN (Individual Work Stations / Local Area Networks). The Albuquerque, New Mexico unit has four workstations, the Auburn, Washington unit has seven workstations, the Salinas, California unit has seven workstations, and the Baltimore, Maryland unit has eight workstations. All 800 number traffic is routed to the available workstations through the use of automated call sequencers. There are employees who work in the units on a full-time basis and others who rotate into the TDD units when needed. All employees working in the TDD units received special training on the equipment and the procedures for communicating with people who are deaf or who are hard of hearing.

In addition to the TDD units in the Teleservice Centers, each of SSA's over 1300 field offices is equipped with standalone TDD's to enable SSA personnel to work directly with people who use TDD's.

Almost all deaf employees within SSA have received an internal TDD as part of their IWS/LAN workstations. The internal TDD's support Baudot and ASCII communication protocols. All deaf employees received on-site training on the use of the TDD's in specialized training classes under the IWS/LAN contract. If an employee has not yet received an IWS/LAN workstation, he/she has been accommodated with a standalone TDD.