MAR 30 1992 The Honorable Larry Combest U.S. House of Representatives 1527 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C.

20515 Dear Congressman Combest: I am writing in response to your recent inquiry concerning the Department of Justice's regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act provisions regarding 911 emergency services. We are aware of the concern expressed by you and the National Emergency Number Association about the provision in our regulation implementing title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act that states "telephone emergency services, including 911 services, shall provide direct access to individuals who use TDD's and computer modems." The apparent concern is that by mandating access to persons using computer modems, the regulation may require that there be access by every format that could be used by a modem, including those that are not compatible with equipment presently used by emergency service systems. That is not the case. The regulation does not require telephone emergency systems to do anything that is technologically infeasible; accordingly, we are interpreting the requirement for access by computer modems to mean only when the modem is using the Baudot format. Until it can be technically proven that communications in another format can operate in a reliable and compatible manner in a given telephone emergency, the public service answering point is not required to provide direct access to computer modems using other formats. This interpretive guidance has been issued by the Department of Justice in its recently published Technical Assistance Manual, which is available from the Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Post Office Box 66738, Washington D.C. 200359998, telephone: (202) 514-0301. Sincerely,

John R. Dunne Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division


January 31, 1992 Mr. Robert Mather U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division P.O. Box 66118 Washington, D.C. 20035-6118 Dear Mr. Mather: It has been brought to my attention that there is a flaw in the implementation rules for Title II Section 35 of the Americans With Disabilities Act. I voted for the Americans With Disabilities Act when it was considered by Congress, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) in providing these rules may have created a situation that could prove devastating to hearing and speech impaired persons. As you may know, the hearing and speech impaired community must communicate by using a device similar to a typewriter (called a TDD). They also communicate using a personal computer (PC). The Department of Justice specifies that all emergency services shall provide direct access to individuals who use TDD's and computer modems. Currently, the hearing impaired have communicated using the baudot modem which is compatible with emergency centers. However, with the advent of the PC, a new modem with a language

called ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) appeared. Now that ASCII is being placed into TDD's, it presents a problem. It is not compatible with the emergency centers' equipment. At this time, no technology exists that will connect an incoming ASCII call to an ASCII modem in the emergency centers. Therefore, if a hearing impaired person places an emergency call using the ASCII mode, chances are likely that the call will not be handled properly. It could disconnect, receive garbled data or fail to make a connection. The result could prove devastating for the hearing and speech impaired person. Emergency centers could be held liable for conditions over which they have no control. The hearing and speech impaired will not be served with the same quality assurance that others have come to expect of their emergency centers and the advent of 911 systems.

01-00524 Mr. Robert Mather January 31, 1992 Page 2 The reference to "computer modem" should be removed from the implementation rules until technology can assure that every TDD call will be answered with the same quality as a voice placed call. I would greatly appreciate your consideration and comments regarding this matter.


Larry Combest LC/bb