- This matter was initiated by a compliance review of Allen County Emergency Services under Title II of the American Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131-12134, by the United States Attorney, Northern District of Indiana.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America, (the "United States") and Allen County, Indiana ("Allen County"). The parties have determined that the 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.
- Allen County does not admit by the signing of this agreement that the operation of its current services, policies, and practices, including those involved in the operation of its non-emergency services (9-1-1), is in violation in any respect with the ADA or its implementing regulations.
- The subject of this settlement agreement is the provision of direct access to the county's telephone emergency services (including 9-1-1) for individuals who use TDD's, and the development of policies and procedures to ensure that the services provided to individuals who use TDD's are as effective as those provided to other telephone users.
POLICIES, PRACTICES, AND PROCEDURES
- Allen County has established, and will continue to maintain, a working relationship with individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments to evaluate the county's 9-1-1 polices, practices, and procedures.
- Allen County agrees to modify its current policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to ensure effective processing of TDD calls.
- In order to ensure effective processing of TDD calls, Allen County agrees to:
- Establish procedures to ensure that 9-1-1 call-takers recognize TDD tones and "silent" open lines. 9-1-1 call-takers will consider a "silent" open line as a potential TDD call and will respond accordingly. These procedures will be incorporated into the Standard Operating Procedures.
- Evaluate its Standard Operating Procedures pertaining to the processing of TDD calls, including call-back capabilities, and modify these procedures wherever necessary to ensure effective processing of TDD calls.
- Complete the actions specified in paragraph 8a through 8b on or before 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement.
- In order to ensure the proper operation of TDD's and related equipment and effective processing of TDD calls by 9-1-1 call-takers, Allen County agrees to provide comprehensive training for every 9-1-1 call-taker including new hires. The training includes:
a) general information about Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation 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 identification and processing of TDD calls, including the handling of calls and the importance of syntax and TDD protocol when responding.
- Beginning on the effective date of this Agreement, Allen County will instruct all of its 9-1-1 call-takers and others who are in anyway responsible for the provision of telephone emergency services to comply with the provisions of this Agreement.
- Allen County agrees to:
- Establish criteria and test each trainee's competency at the conclusion of the training described in paragraph nine.
- 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 to maintain skill level and provide information or changing technologies.
- Document all training provided including each 9-1-1 call-taker's title and the date each received training, and provide a copy of the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request.
- Commence the actions as specified in paragraph 11a through 11d within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement and continue these actions for two years following the date of commencement.
- Within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Allen County 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 TDD's. This program may include, but is not limited to, public service announcements contained in mass mailings such as municipal utility service bills.
TESTING AND AUDIT
- Within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Allen County agrees to:
- Submit draft protocols for testing procedures for conducting a routine TDD test call; also, maintain documentation of TDD test calls and provide a copy to the Department of Justice upon request. The documentation will include the position of the test caller; date, time, and zone of the test call; identification of the call as "silent" or transmitting tones; time required to establish communication with 9-1-1 personnel; total time required to dispatch emergency services; terminology used; and any other pertinent information. The testing procedures will be implemented after review by the Department of Justice.
- Audit, on a semi-annual basis, the quality of service provided to TDD users and the adequacy of the maintenance of TDD's and related equipment. Such semi-annual audits will continue for two years after the date of this Agreement. The audits will document the time elapsed from initiation of the TDD call at the Center until the Center responds; and the number and status of TDD calls (e.g., disconnected, hung-up, or answered); and the percentage of TDD calls answered within ten seconds.
- Within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement, Allen 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 of that party.
17. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
Jon E. DeGuilio
United States Attorney
Deborah M. Leonard
Assistant United States Attorney
Atty # 7087-49
3128 Federal Building
1300 South Harrison Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
Telephone: (219) 422-2595
Allen County Emergency Services
Courthouse, Room 102
Fort Wayne, IN 46802