July 14, 1998
Ms. Pam McInnis
City of Eau Claire Police Department
P.O. Box 496
740 Second Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54702-0496
Re: Eau Claire County 9-1-1 Compliance Review
Dear Ms. McInnis:
This letter is in regard to the compliance review conducted by our office of the 9-1-1 Center for Eau Claire County, pursuant toTitle II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134. Title II prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of State and local governments.
The county wide Eau Claire 9-1-1 Center ("Center") is an instrumentality of a State or local government, and, as such, is a public entity subject to the requirements of Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.104 (1997). Section 35.130(b)(1)(iii) of the regulation requires that the services provided by public entities to persons with disabilities be "as effective" in affording equal opportunity to obtain the same result, gain the same benefit, or reach the same level of achievement as those provided to others. Furthermore, pursuant to Section 35.130(b)(7), public entities must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures, where such modifications are necessary to avoid discrimination based on disability.
Regarding 9-1-1 emergency services in particular, Section 35.162 requires such services to provide "direct access" to individuals who use a TDD, also known as a TTY, for telephone communications. The preamble to this requirement, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, App. A at 488, states that public entities must take appropriate steps, including equipping their emergency systems with modern technology, as may be necessary to promptly receive and respond to calls from users of TDDs and computer modems. The preamble states that entities are allowed the flexibility to determine the appropriate technology for their particular needs.
July 14, 1998
Our compliance review included an overview of your Center's policies, procedures, and pertinent records and the site visit of the Center's 9-1-1 facilities on September 30, 1997. The compliance review demonstrated that the Center has four consoles and one stand-alone TTY with a printer, staffed each shift by two to four call takers, who also serve as dispatchers. We were informed that equipment is not routinely tested and that training, including TTY training, consists of initial field training with follow-up sessions every other month. We were also informed that the Center has no policy to query "silent" calls with a TTY and dispatches police whenever there is a perceived disconnection. You recently informed us that the city phone directory has now been corrected to clearly alert TTY users that they can reach the Center by dialing 9-1-1, rather than by dialing a separate seven-digit number.
In an effort to resolve this matter and secure the Center's compliance with the ADA, we are asking that you voluntarily agree to the following provisions:
- The Center agrees that it will abide by all of the requirements of the ADA.
- In order to provide individuals who use TTYs with direct access to the Center's 9-1-1 services, the Center agrees that no later than January 1, 1999, or the commencement of the Center's next fiscal year, whichever is earlier, it will install sufficient additional TTY equipment so that (a) each answering position has the capability to respond directly to callers on a TTY and make call-backs and (b) backup equipment will be provided in case of an emergency or TTY malfunction. The Center further agrees that for the interim it will purchase, lease, or borrow at least one additional TTY to be installed and operational no later than August 7, 1998, to supplement the Center's existing TTY.
- In order to ensure effective processing of TTY calls, the Center shall, within 90 days of the date of this agreement, establish and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure that:
- All 9-1-1 call takers, including any dispatchers who serve as call takers, recognize incoming TTY tones and respond by querying any silent line with a TTY to determine whether it is a TTY call;
- All 9-1-1 call takers, including any dispatchers who serve as call takers, consider "silent" open lines as potential TTY calls and respond by querying each silent line with a TTY to determine whether it is a TTY call.
These policies, practices and procedures shall be incorporated into the Standard Operating Procedures of the Center.
July 14, 1998
- In order to ensure the proper operation of TTYs and related equipment, as well as the effective processing of TTY calls by 9-1-1 call takers, the Center shall provide comprehensive training for every 9-1-1 call taker, including newly hired call takers and dispatchers serving as call takers. The training shall include (a) general information about title II of the ADA; (b) general information about communication issues regarding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments, including information about American Sign Language; and (c) practical instruction on identifying and processing of TTY calls, including the importance of using proper syntax and protocol when responding to TTY calls and relayed calls.
For current employees, training shall take place as soon as possible, but no later than November 2, 1998. For new employees, the training required pursuant to this agreement shall be included as part of the regular training or instruction program and shall be conducted no later than 10 days after beginning employment.
- To insure the effectiveness of its training, the Center shall:
- Utilize the Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.'s Emergency Access Self-Evaluation program or its equivalent to establish criteria and test each trainee's competency at the conclusion of the training described in paragraph 4 above.
- Develop and implement a supplemental training plan for any 9-1-1 call taker or dispatcher serving as call taker who does not satisfactorily complete the required training.
- Provide a refresher training course at a minimum of every six months.
- Document all training provided, including the employee number of each 9-1-1 call taker or dispatcher serving as call taker, the employee's title and the date of training, and provide copies of the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request.
- Within 90 days of the effective date of this agreement, the Center shall initiate a process with communities of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments, to develop and implement a public education program to promote the use of 9-1-1 services by individuals who use TTYs. This program shall be implemented by the Center within 180 days of this agreement.
July 14, 1998
- Within 90 days of the effective date of this agreement, the Center shall, on a quarterly basis, conduct test TTY calls on each shift to each call taking position. These tests shall be unannounced and shall be documented to include the date and time of the test, the call taker position, identification of the call as "silent" or transmitting tones, time elapsed from the initiation of the TTY call until the 9-1-1 call taker responds, and whether the call was processed properly and efficiently according to departmental policies and training directives. If testing reveals inadequacies in the handling of TTY calls, the Center shall take immediate remedial action that may include as appropriate: additional training, equipment repairs or changes, additional policy or procedural changes, and disciplinary action.
- For two years from the effective date of this agreement the United States Attorney may periodically request from the Center a summary of the results from each round of tests, along with a description of any actions taken to remedy inadequacies uncovered by the test.
- Within 120 days of the effective date of this agreement, a representative of the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Wisconsin will recontact the Center to obtain updated information regarding the actions the Center has taken to comply with the preceding provisions.
- This agreement shall not be construed as an admission or finding of liability by the United States.
- This agreement is a public document and constitutes the entire agreement between the United States and the Center on these matters. Copies of this document shall be made available to any person by either party upon request to that party.
- The effective date of this agreement is the date of the last signature below.
The Center may accept this agreement by having a responsible official sign below, keeping the original for your records and returning a copy of the signed agreement to me by no later than August 3, 1998.
Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in this review. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the matters raised in this letter, please contact me or Alice Green at (608)264-5158 at your earliest convenience.
July 14, 1998
For the Center:
For the United States:
PEGGY A. LAUTENSCHLAGER
United States Attorney
DAVID E. JONES
Assistant United States Attorney