- This matter was initiated by a compliance review of City of Jackson, Mississippi's Public Safety Communications Center under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ï½§ 12131-12134, by the United States Attorney, Southern District of Mississippi.
- The parties to this Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America (the "United States") and City of Jackson, Mississippi (the "City"). 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 City because it is a public entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12115.
- That no action taken by the City constitutes a violation of the ADA. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability by the City. The City also agrees that it will abide by all of the requirements of the ADA.
- The subject of this Agreement is the provision of direct access to the City'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 continue providing individuals who use TDD's with direct access to the City 9-1-1 services, the City has:
- Installed sufficient additional TDD equipment so that each answering position has the capability to respond directly to callers on a TDD and make call-backs.
- Acquired additional TDD equipment, or equivalent, to ensure that backup equipment will be provided in case of an emergency or TDD malfunction.
- Evaluated its 9-1-1 system and procedures regarding processing of TDD calls that request fire services, and modified the system and procedures in order to ensure effective call handling.
- Included TDD equipment in power failure contingency plans; and
- Developed procedures to maintain and record TDD calls electronically.
POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND PROCEDURES
- In order to ensure effective processing of TDD calls, the City shall, within thirty (30) days of the date of this agreement, establish and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure that:
- All 9-1-1 call-takers recognize incoming TDD tones and respond to the incoming TDD tones via TDD equipment; and that
- All 9-1-1 call-takers consider "silent" open lines as potential TDD calls and respond by querying the silent line with TDD equipment.
These policies, practices and procedures shall be incorporated into the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's).
- 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 City 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. Current employees shall, at all times, maintain a level of proficiency required by 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 commence no later than ten (10) days after beginning employment.
- To insure the effectiveness of its training, the City 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 eight (8), above.
- Develop and implement a supplemental training plan for any 9-1-1 call-taker who does not satisfactorily complete the required training.
- 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.
- Document all training provided, including each 9-1-1 call-taker's name, title and the date of training, and provide copies of the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request.
- The City has initiated, and will continue to participate in a process with communities of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments, in order to develop a public education program to promote the use of 9-1-1 services by individuals who use TDD's.
TESTING AND AUDIT
- Within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the City shall, on a quarterly basis, conduct sufficient tests of incoming and outgoing TDD calls on each watch to ensure that each call-taker is tested during the quarter. These tests shall be unannounced and shall be documented to include the date and time of the test, the call-taker position (console), 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 City 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 upon request , but not more than on a semi-annual basis along with a description of any actions taken to remedy inadequacies uncovered by the tests. The quarterly testing and semi-annual audit reports shall be required for two years from the effective date of this Agreement.
- Within one hundred and twenty (120) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will submit a report to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi advising of adoption and implementation of the SOP's referenced in paragraph seven (7) of the Agreement.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THIS 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 the City of Jackson:
MAYOR HARVEY JOHNSON, JR.
HONORABLE HEATHER WAGNER
For the United States:
United States Attorney
Assistant United States Attorney
Southern District of Mississippi
188 East Capitol Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201