U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Public Access Section 202-PL-243 P. O.

Box 66738 Washington, DC 20035-6738 OCT 13 1993 Mr. J. Larry Poole Architect 116 East Market Street Kingsport, Tennessee 37660 Dear Mr. Poole: This letter responds to your inquiry regarding the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, you asked for guidance regarding ADA requirements for rescue and ambulance stations in Sullivan County, Tennessee. We regret the delay in responding. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. In your letter, you asked several questions regarding ADA requirements for rescue and ambulance stations operated by your County. First, you inquired as to whether title IV of the ADA (addressing telecommunications relay services for individuals with hearing or speech impairments) requires each such station to have a TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf). As your letter recognizes, title IV addresses only the duty of common carriers to establish relay systems (services that enable two-way communication between an individual who uses a TDD or other nonvoice terminal device and an individual who does not use such a device.) Title IV does not address the legal duties of state and local government entities under the ADA. These obligations are covered by title II of the Act.

The Department of Justice regulation implementing title II contains several provisions addressing the duty of state and local government entities to communicate effectively with members of the public, including requiring such entities to be equipped with TDD's in certain circumstances. These requirements differ depending on whether emergency or non-emergency services are at issue. 01-02628​ -2Emergency Telephone Services The regulation applicable to telephone requirements for emergency services provided by state or local government entities states: Telephone emergency services, including 911 services, shall provide direct access to individuals who use TDD's and computer modems. 28 C.F.R. S 35.162; see enclosed title II regulation at pages 35721 and 35712-35713. "Direct access" means that emergency telephone services can directly receive calls from TDD and computer modem users without relying on outside relay services or third party services. This means that where 911 service is available, the state or local government entities operating the 911 service must be equipped with TDD's and thus provide direct access to individuals who use TDD's and computer modems. The logic behind the "direct access" requirement is obvious, since the speed with which a person can reach emergency services may have life or death consequences. The question posed in your letter is not whether state or local government entities operating 911 emergency services must be equipped with TDD'S, but whether an individual rescue or ambulance station must be so equipped. The answer depends in part, however, upon the comprehensiveness of your locality's 911 system. Your letter of inquiry does not contain facts sufficient to determine the comprehensiveness of Sullivan County's 911 system. To answer your question, it is therefore necessary to consider several different scenarios. Under the first scenario, let us assume that Sullivan County, Tennessee, has 911 telephone emergency services which comply with the ADA (i.e., that the entities operating such services are equipped with TDD's and are compatible with computer

modems, thus providing direct access to non-voice callers). Let us further assume that the emergency services provided by Sullivan County rescue and ambulance stations can be accessed via 911, meaning that a citizen who needs emergency services from the rescue or ambulance stations typically dials 911 to obtain such services. Under this scenario, the ADA would not require individual rescue or ambulance stations to obtain TDD'S. Quite a different result is obtained if we assume that Sullivan County's 911 service does not cover the rescue or ambulance stations at issue, and members of the public could obtain emergency services only by dialing the stations direct. Under this scenario, the rescue or ambulance station would have to be equipped with TDD's to provide direct access to nonvoice callers. The station could provide two separate lines to reach this service -- one for voice calls, and another for nonvoice 01-02629​ -3calls -- but it would have to ensure that the service for nonvoice calls was as effective as that offered for voice calls in terms of response time and availability in hours. Also, the nonvoice number would have to be publicized as effectively as the voice number, and displayed as prominently as the voice number wherever such emergency numbers are listed. See Title II Technical Assistance Manual at pages 38 and 39. A third possibility is that the emergency services of the rescue or ambulance stations at issue here can be obtained by either dialing 911 or a seven-digit (voice) number. Such an arrangement would comply with the ADA so long as nonvoice callers whose calls were directed through 911 received emergency attention as quickly as voice callers who dialed local sevendigit numbers for emergency assistance instead of 911. See generally preamble to enclosed title II regulation at 35713. Non-Emergency Telephone Services Where a public entity communicates with applicants and beneficiaries by telephone in non-emergency situations, the public entity does not have to provide "direct access.,, Instead, public entities have the option of using TDD's or "equally effective telecommunication systems" to communicate with individuals with impaired speech or hearing. See 28 C.F.R. S 35.161. Under the regulation, relay services such as those required by title IV (involving a relay operator who uses both a

standard telephone and a TDD to type the voice messages to the TDD user and read the TDD messages to the standard telephone user) constitute equally effective telecommunication systems. Title IV of the ADA requires all common carriers (i.e., the telephone companies) to provide telephone relay services by July 26, 1993. Thus, most County government entities in Tennessee could choose to rely on relay services provided by the phone companies for non-emergency communications with individuals with impaired speech or hearing. Entities which have extensive telephone contact with the public such as city halls, public libraries and public aid offices, however, are strongly encouraged to have TDD's to ensure more immediate access. See preamble to title II regulation at 35712 ("The Department encourages those entities that have extensive telephone contact with the public. . . to have TDD's to insure more immediate access. Where the provision of telephone service is a major function of the entity, TDD's should be available.") Physical Accessibility of Rescue and Ambulance Stations Your letter also asks about the ADA's requirements for physical accessibility of rescue and ambulance stations. As you know, title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all services, programs and 01-02630 -4activities provided or made available by state or local governments. This obligation does not require extensive retrofitting of existing facilities utilized by state and local government entities. Instead, the operative concept is "program accessibility." The "program" at issue here -- i.e., emergency rescue and ambulance service -- must be accessible to persons with disabilities. Members of the public are not typically invited into rescue and ambulance stations: instead, station personnel go to the site of an emergency. Under these circumstances, it may not be necessary to render accessible the physical facility housing the rescue or ambulance station. Of course, if stations offer programs or services requiring members of the public to enter and use the facilities (such as educational tours, for example), the County would need to ensure that the portions of the stations open to the public were accessible, unless the County could demonstrate that this

obligation caused a fundamental alteration in its program or resulted in undue financial and administrative burdens. See S 35.150 at page 35719 of the enclosed title II regulation, and interpretive commentary at pages 35708-9 and 35720-1. See also Title II Technical Assistance Manual at pages 19-23. Standards Applicable to Separate Titles of the ADA In your letter, you observe that the terms "reasonable accommodations," "undue hardship," and "readily achievable" are "scattered throughout" the public law. Your letter goes on to state the following with respect to Sullivan County's rescue and ambulance stations: My understanding of the law is that the accommodations must be accomplished as soon as is reasonably possible "without much difficulty or expense." This conclusion is incorrect. Each of the legal standards cited above apply to separate titles of the ADA. For example, the term "reasonable accommodation" applies only to employment situations. It has no relevance to analysis of any other part of the ADA. Similarly, the term "readily achievable" is not applicable to ADA obligations of state or local government entities such as Sullivan County. "Readily achievable" is the title III legal standard applicable to barrier removal in existing facilities of private entities which own, operate, or lease places of public accommodations. As discussed above, the standard applicable to programs and services offered by Sullivan County is that of "program access." Defenses to non-provision of such access are "fundamental alteration" or "undue financial and administrative burdens." As discussed above, these terms are found in the title II regulation, as are deadlines for providing program access, accomplishing structural modifications, and completing self-evaluations and transition plans. See discussion 01-02631 -5of time periods at pages 35720 and 35709-10 of the enclosed title II regulation. Finally, in your letter, you express concern with the multitude of so-called "experts" on the ADA attempting to market their consultant services to covered entities. You should be

aware that the Department of Justice has not certified any outside persons or organizations as authorities on the ADA. A number of entities have received grants from the Department to develop materials to educate the public regarding rights and responsibilities under the ADA, however, and a list of these grantees is attached for your information. I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If you have any questions, you may wish to call our information line at (202) 514-0301 (voice) or (202) 514-0383 (TDD). Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures Title II regulation Title II Technical Assistance Manual Grantee Information 01-02632 ​ J. L A R R Y P O O L E ARCHITECT 116 EAST MARKET STREET KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE 37660 AIA AREA CODE 615 TELEPHONE 245-5221 August 2, 1993 The Honorable James Quillen US House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Representative Quillen: I would appreciated your help in getting an answer from the Justice Department to the enclosed letter. I believe you will find the enclosed material self-explanatory. Thank you for your help in this matter,

J. Larry Poole JLP/m

01-02633​July 3, 1992

U. S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Co-Ordination & Review Section P. 0. Box 66118 Washington, D.C. 20035-6118

RE: TITLE IV - TELECOMMUNICATIONS, PUBLIC LAW 101-336 JULY 26, 1990 (THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1991) Dear Sir: I have been asked to assist the County Attorney of Sullivan County, Tennessee in assessing certain County properties for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. One type of property in question are the Rescue/Ambulance stations. The County Attorney attended a seminar at which one of the instructors indicated that all such stations must have Telecommunications Devices. I do not interpret the amendment to Section 401 as written in the ADA manual as requiring these devices in every emergency station. As I understand this Section, it is the Common Carrier who must be equipped with the TTD equipment. I do not remember any regulation which has produced the quantity of "Certified Experts" as this new law. We have them coming out of the woodwork, especially from the University of Tennessee. One of the instructors at the above mentioned seminar indicated that all public owned

facilities must be treated as open to the general public. I am having a hard time defining a Rescue/Ambulance Station or Fire Station as "open to the public". I can understand providing this type of facility with the amenities required for handicapped employees but I would not classify them as open to the general public. Scattered through out Public Law 101-336 are such terms as "reasonable accommodations, undue hardship, and readily achievable." My understanding of the law is that the

01-02634​accommodations must be accomplished as soon as is reasonably possible "without much difficulty or expense". In the case of the Rescue/Ambulance stations, the County has been told that they are not allowed to contribute finances until these stations are in compliance. Please let me have your opinions and suggestions in this matter. These stations cannot operate for long with out the support of the County. Sincerely, J. Larry Poole JLP/m

01-02635