U.S. Department of Justice
Stephen C. Lewis
United States Attorney
Northern District of Oklahoma
333 West 4th Street, Suite 3460
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-3809
July 28, 1997
Ms. Pam Rue
219 S. Missouri St.
Claremore, OK 74017
Re: Rogers County, Oklahoma 9-1-1 Emergency Center
Dear Ms. Rue:This letter is in regard to our compliance review of Rogers County, Oklahoma's 9-1-1 Center under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134. The purpose of this letter is two-fold. First, we appreciate having the July 11, 1997, site visit and meeting with the County's representatives. Second, we propose that we resolve any concerns we may have by entering into a settlement agreement, which is drafted and enclosed for your consideration ("Draft"). The Draft states that by signing the Agreement, the County does not admit it has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (paragraph 4). The purpose of the Draft is to list those steps that the County should undertake in order to ensure that the 9-1-1 services provided to individuals who use TDD's are as effective as those provided to other telephone users. First, the Draft states that the County will continue to maintain sufficient TDD accessible equipment so that each answering position has the capability to respond directly to callers who use TDD's and make call-backs (paragraph 6a); and to ensure that backup equipment will be available in case of an emergency or equipment malfunction (paragraph 6b). In addition, the Draft provides that the County will evaluate its 9-1-1 system and procedures regarding the processing of TDD calls that request fire fighting services, and modify the system and procedures in order to ensure effective call handling (paragraph 6c). The Draft states that the County will include TDD equipment in power failure contingency plans (paragraph 6d) and record TDD calls due to the current policy/ procedure of electronically recording voice telephone calls (paragraph 6e). The Draft provides that within 120 days of the effective date of the Agreement, the County shall establish and implement procedures to ensure that 9-1-1 call-takers recognize TDD tones and "silent" open lines; and incorporate these procedures into the Standard Operating Procedures (paragraph 7). The Draft also states that the County will provide comprehensive training for 9-1-1 call-takers to handle TDD calls (paragraph 8). The Draft provides that in establishing criteria and testing trainee's TDD competency, the County will utilize the Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.'s publication, Emergency Access Self-Evaluation (EASE) Manual (paragraph 9). The Draft states that the County will work with individuals from the community(ies) 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 TDD's (paragraph 10). The Draft requires the County to conduct semi-annual audits of the quality of service provided to TDD users (paragraph 11), and to report to us detailing the County's progress in complying with the Agreement (paragraph 12). Please let me know when the County is ready to discuss the Draft or if anyone from your office should have any questions about its terms. We appreciate the cooperation of the County officials during our compliance review. We especially want to thank you for your helpfulness and interest. If you have any questions concerning this letter, please feel free to call me at 918 581 7463. Sincerely,
EnclosureSETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
ROGERS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA
- This matter was initiated by a compliance review of Rogers County, Oklahoma's 9-1-1 center under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134, by the United States Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America (the "United States") and Rogers County, Oklahoma (the "County"). The parties have determined that their respective interests can be met by securing compliance by voluntary means and have therefore voluntarily entered into this Agreement.
The parties hereby agree as follows:
- The ADA applies to the County because it is a public entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12115. The County denies that any action it has taken constitutes a violation of the ADA. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability by the County. The County also agrees that it will abide by all of the requirements of the ADA. The subject of this Settlement Agreement is the provision of direct access to the County's 9-1-1 services for individuals with disabilities who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD's), and the development of policies and procedures to ensure that the 9-1-1 services provided to individuals who use TDD's are as effective as those provided to other telephone users. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ï½§ 35.162, 35.130(b)(iii), and 35.130(b)(7).
- In order to provide individuals who use TDD's with direct access to the County 9-1-1 services, the County agrees that it will continue to maintain:
a. Sufficient TDD equipment so that each answering position has the capability to respond directly to callers who use TDD's and make call-backs.
b. TDD equipment, or the equivalent, to ensure that backup equipment will be available in case of an emergency or TDD malfunction.
c. Evaluate its 9-1-1 system and procedures regarding processing of TDD calls that request fire services, and modify the system and procedures in order to ensure effective call handling.
d. Include TDD equipment in power failure contingency plans.
e. Maintain and record TDD calls electronically.
POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND PROCEDURES
- In order to ensure effective processing of TDD calls, the County shall, within 90 days of the date of this agreement, establish and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure that:
a. All 9-1-1 call-takers recognize incoming TDD tones and respond appropriately via TDD; and that
b. All 9-1-1 call-takers consider "silent" open lines as potential TDD calls and respond accordingly.
These policies, practices and procedures shall be incorporated into the Standard Operating Procedures.
- In order to ensure the proper operation of TDD's and related equipment, as well as the effective processing of TDD calls by 9-1-1 call-takers, the County shall provide comprehensive training for every 9-1-1 call-taker, including newly hired call-takers. The training must include: a) general information about title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act; 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 TDD calls, including the importance of using proper syntax and protocol when responding to TDD calls and relayed calls. For current employees, training shall take place as soon as possible, but no later than 90 days after the effective date of this Agreement. 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 County shall:
a. 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 9, above;
b. Develop and implement a supplemental training plan for any 9-1-1 call-taker who does not satisfactorily complete the required training.
c. Provide a refresher training course every six months over a period of two years from the effective date of this Agreement in order to maintain call-takers' skill levels.
d. Document all training provided, including each 9-1-1 call-taker's employee number, 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 County shall initiate a process with individuals from the local community(ies) 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 TDD's. Such program shall be implemented by the County within 180 days of this Agreement.
TESTING AND AUDIT
- Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County shall, on a quarterly basis, conduct TDD test 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 TDD 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 TDD calls, the County shall take immediate remedial action that may include as appropriate: additional training, equipment changes,additional policy or procedural changes, and disciplinary action. Results from each round of tests shall be summarized and sent to counsel for the United States on a semi-annual basisalong with a description of any action taken to remedy inadequacies uncovered by the tests.The quarterly testing and semi-annual audit reports shall be required for the two years following the effective date of this Agreement.
- Within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will submit a report to the United States Attorney detailing the actions it has taken to comply with the preceding provisions.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
- Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of its right to do so with regard to other provisions of this Agreement. This Agreement is a public document and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein. Copies of this Agreement 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.
For Rogers County:
For the United States:
STEPHEN C. LEWIS
United States Attorney
PHIL PINNELL, OBA #7169
Assistant United States Attorney