# 18 II-1.2000 T.

10/12/97 SBO:WRW:KGF DJ# 182-06-00049 June 18, 1992

Mr. Robert J. Moldashel President Lakeland Communications, Inc. Lincoln Towers 1350 Lincoln Avenue Holbrook, New York 11741 Dear Mr. Moldashel: This letter is in response to your letter to the Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerning TDD access to emergency phone numbers. Specifically, you asked if a volunteer fire department and ambulance service that provides a supplementary seven-digit emergency phone line to speed access to emergency services to the hearing public, in addition to a general 911 system, would be exempt from TDD access requirements. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding how the ADA may apply to the situation you describe. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of your rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. Title II of the ADA, which contains the ADA provisions relating to TDD access, applies to State and local governments. In order to determine whether a volunteer fire or rescue company is covered by the requirements of title II, it is necessary to examine the relationship between the company and the unit of local government. The factors to be considered include whether the company is operated with public funds; whether the employees, if any, are considered government employees; whether the government provides significant assistance to the company by providing equipment or property; and whether it is governed by an independent board selected by the members of a private organization or is elected by the voters or appointed by elected

officials. The provision regarding TDD access to emergency telephone systems for those entities covered by title II is found in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing that title, specifically 28 C.F.R. {35.162. The Department's Technical Assistance Manual for title II specifically addresses the question you raise: Where a 911 line is available, a separate seven-digit telephone line must not be substituted as the sole means for nonvoice users to access 911 services. A public entity may, however, provide a separate seven-digit line for use exclusively by nonvoice calls in addition to providing direct access for such calls to the 911 line. Where such a separate line is provided, callers using TDD's or computer modems would have the option of calling either 911 or the seven-digit number. Where a 911 line is not available and the public entity provides emergency services through a seven-digit number, it may provide two separate lines -- one for voice calls, and another for nonvoice calls -- rather than providing direct access for nonvoice calls to the line used for voice calls, provided that the services for nonvoice calls are as effective as those offered for voice calls in terms of time response and availability in hours. Also the public entity must ensure that the nonvoice number is publicized as effectively as the voice number, and is displayed as prominently as the voice number wherever the emergency numbers are listed. Technical Assistance Manual at pp. 38-39 Copies of the Manual and of the title II regulation are enclosed for your information. We hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination & Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2)