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4/4/92 SBO:rjc DJ#192-180-04013

APR 7 1992

The Honorable John J. LaFalce Chairman Committee on Small Business U.S. House of Representatives 2361 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-6315 Dear Mr. Chairman: I am writing in response to your recent inquiry on behalf of officials in the Office of Emergency Communications in Rochester, New York, regarding 911 emergency services. We are aware of the concern expressed by your constituents 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." ILLEGIBLE 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 date 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. Records, CRS, Oneglia, McDowney :UDD:LaFalce.911 01-00557

-2This 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 01-00558

January 7, 1992 Congressman John LaFalce 302 Federal Bldg. Rochester, NY 14614 Dear Mr. LaFalce: We are members of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA). We are writing to you to alert you to a flaw in the implementation rules for Title II Section 35 of the A.D.A. Law. (Hearing and Speech Impaired). Our organization supports the A.D.A. Law 100%. However, the Dept. of Justice, who

provided these rules, have set in motion a situation that could be fatal to a hearing and speech impaired person. The hearing and speech impaired community must communicate by using a device similar to a typewriter (called a T.D.D.). They also communicate using a personal computer (PC). The Justice Dept. specifies that all emergency services shall provide direct access to individuals who use T.D.D.s and computer modems. In the past, they have communicated using a baudot modem. It still serves virtually all of the hearing and speech impaired today. It is compatible with our emergency centers. But with the advent of the personal computer, a new modem with a language called ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) appeared. Its original design was for a business machine to communicate with another business machine, without human involvement. However, since it is being placed into T.D.D.s, and is the norm for P.C.s, it presents a problem. It is not compatible with emergency centers equipment. Also there is, at this time, no technology that exists that will connect an incoming ASCII call to an ASCII modem in the emergency centers and guarantee connection.

01-00559 Simply put, if a hearing impaired person places an emergency call using the ASCII mode, chances are virtually certain that the call will not be handled properly. It could disconnect, receive a garbled data or make no connection at all. The result could be a possible loss of life or property. Emergency centers will 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 9-1-1 systems. We need your help to keep this from happening. We feel that the reference to "computer modem" should be removed from the implementation rules until technology can assure that every T.D.D. call will be answered with the same quality as a voice placed call. Please contact the Dept. of Justice and urge this change be made. Our contact is: Mr. Robert Mather, Attorney U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Coordination and Review Section P.O. Box 66118 Washington, D.C. 20035-6118 Telephone: (202) 307-2236 Sincerely, Sharon J. Murray Director Donna M. Tarantello Manager of Administrative Services John Pagano, Jr. Manager of Operations and Training 01-00560