- This matter was initiated by a compliance review of Cen Com, one of three primary public safety answering points for Benton County, Arkansas, under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the "ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131-12134, by the United States Attorney, Western District of Arkansas.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement ("Agreement") are the United States of America (the "United States") and Benton County, Arkansas (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. 23 C.F.R. 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's 9-1-1 services, the County agrees that it will, within 90 days of the date of this Agreement:
- Install sufficient additional TDD equipment so that each answering position has the capability to respond directly to callers on a TDD and make call-backs.
- Acquire additional TDD equipment to ensure that backup equipment will be provided in case of an emergency TDD malfunction.
- Evaluate 9-1-1 system and procedures regarding processing of TDD calls that require transfer. Re-test TDD transfer to Bentonville Police Department, and test transfer to Bella Vista Sheriff's Office.
- Preprogram initial TDD answering message (for example, "911 GA").
- Implement a regular (at least annual) maintenance schedule on TDD equipment.
- Implement system for saving documentation on ADA calls by saving printout of TDD call and attaching it to 911 ANI/ALI printout and in-house 911 breakdown call sheets maintained with 911 ANI/ALI printout.
- Change the listing in the telephone to indicate those non-emergency numbers that are both Voice/TDD.
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:
- All 9-1-1 call takers recognize incoming TDD tones and respond via TDD.
- All 9-1-1 call takers consider "silent" open lines as potential TDD calls from a machine which does not emit detectable electronic tones. If there is no response after the initial (voice) answer, the call taker will query the silent line by immediately sending an automatic TDD message and waiting for a response. If a call is determined to be a TDD call, dispatcher will pass this information on to responding officer.
- Uniform transfer methods are established for all primary and secondary public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the county.
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 information 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 ensure the effectiveness of its training, the County shall:
- Utilize the Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.'s Emergency Access Self-
- 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 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 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 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 test TDD calls on each watch 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 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 effectiv 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 Benton County, Arkansas:
_____________________________ Date: 20 March 98For the United States:
Benton County Judge
215 East Central
Bentonville, AR 72712
_____________________________ Date: 25 March 98>
United States Attorney
P.O. Box 1524
Fort Smith, AR 72902