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OWENS v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

November 5, 1997

DEBORAH E. MILLER AND SEAN OWENS, Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Issue of Liability. Initially brought by two hearing impaired residents of the District of Columbia and joined by the United States, Plaintiffs in this case seek declaratory and injunctive relief to remedy alleged violations of the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. For more than a year, the District of Columbia's emergency 9-1-1 system has been virtually inaccessible to deaf individuals requiring emergency services. The experiences of the Plaintiffs during the summer of 1996, as well as the uncontested documentation by the United States over the past three months as ordered by this Court, demonstrate that the District of Columbia's 9-1-1 system fails to provide services to callers using telecommunication devices ("TDD") for the deaf.

 Since the District of Columbia does not dipute the fact that its 9-1-1 system currently fails to respond to TDD callers, Plaintiffs are entitled as a matter of law to summary judgment on the issue of liability. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Thereby, Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment will be granted. It is hereby

 ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED; it is further

 ORDERED that the United States' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is GRANTED; and it is further

 ORDERED that:

 I. Technology

 1. Police Department.

 A. In order to provide individuals who use TDD's with direct, effective access to the Police Department's 9-1-1 emergency telephone system, the District shall maintain its integrated TDD 9-1-1 system in working condition that is sufficient to permit all of the Police Department's call-takers to regularly and routinely answer TDD 9-1-1 calls at each call-taking position.

 B. The District shall maintain additional TDD 9-1-1 equipment to ensure that backup equipment will be provided in case of an emergency or integrated TDD 9-1-1 system malfunction. The District shall include TDD 9-1-1 equipment in power failure contingency plans.

 C. The District shall, no later than January 1, 1998, discontinue using the stand-alone TDD equipment except in the case of further equipment, software, or computer failure, which causes the integrated TDD 9-1-1 system to be inoperable. Thereafter, the District shall use the integrated TDD 9-1-1 system as the primary and back-up means of TDD 9-1-1 access.

 2. Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department.

 A. In order to provide individuals who use TDD's with direct, effective access to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services ("Fire/EMS") Department's 9-1-1 emergency telephone system, the District shall, within two (2) weeks of the date of this Order, purchase and install stand-alone TDD's at each call-taker position in the Fire/EMS Department's 9-1-1 emergency telephone system.

 B. The District shall test the effectiveness of the stand-alone TDD's and each of its call-takers' proficiency in using the stand-alone TDD's at least once every week for two months and shall take immediate action to remedy any deficiencies in equipment or call-taker performance discovered through this testing process.

 C. The District shall immediately purchase two (2) additional stand-alone TDD's, which shall be in place within four (4) weeks and thereafter maintained as backup equipment in case of an emergency or TDD malfunction. The Fire/EMS Department shall include TDD 9-1-1 equipment in power failure contingency plans.

 D. The District shall, no later than August 1, 1998, redesign the Fire/EMS Department's existing CAD interface to provide connection between the CAD system and an integrated TDD 9-1-1 system. As soon as the District has determined that the CAD interface has been successfully redesigned and tested, the District shall, with the United States' concurrence, resume using the integrated TDD 9-1-1 system. Following the implementation of the redesigned CAD system, the District shall maintain stand-alone TDD's as back-up equipment in case of an emergency or TDD malfunction.

 E. The District shall, no later than January 1, 1999, discontinue using the stand-alone TDD equipment at the Fire/EMS Department, except in the case of further equipment, software, or computer failure, which causes the integrated TDD 9-1-1 system to be inoperable. Thereafter, the District shall use the integrated TDD 9-1-1 system as the primary and back-up means of TDD 9-1-1 access.

 II. Standard Operating Procedures

 The District shall, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, issue a Departmental order(s) outlining procedures for handling TDD 9-1-1 calls at the Police and Fire/Emergency Medical Services Departments. Such Departmental Order(s) shall be enforceable by the District to the same extent Standard Operating Procedures would be.

 The District shall, within thirty (30) days of the date of this Order, configure the Police Department's integrated TDD 9-1-1 system with default preprogrammed messages consistent with the National Emergency Number Association Generic Standards for E9-1-1 PSAP Equipment, NENA-04-001.

 IV. Training

 1. Police Department. 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 District shall provide mandatory TDD 9-1-1 comprehensive training for all newly hired call-takers and all persons who assume any 9-1-1 call-taking duties.

 2. Fire/EMS Department.

 A. As soon as the District installs stand-alone TDD's at the Fire/EMS Department, the District shall instruct call-takers on how to use stand-alone TDDs in responding to incoming TDD calls, and to test periodically the effectiveness of the interim measures and to correct deficiencies.

 B. 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 District shall provide mandatory TDD 9-1-1 comprehensive training for all newly hired call-takers and all persons who assume any 9-1-1 call-taking duties.

 3. Comprehensive Training. The comprehensive training shall include--

 A. General information about title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation 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;

 C. Practical instruction on identifying and processing of TDD calls, including the importance of using proper syntax and protocol when responding to TDD calls and relayed calls; and

 D. Practical instruction to assist the call-taker in informing dispatchers, and ultimately the response team, that the emergency caller is deaf or has a speech impairment.

 4. New Call-takers. In addition to the above, all new employees shall receive hands-on training on TDD communications as part of their initial training orientation. The comprehensive and hands-on training for 9-1-1 call-takers shall take place before a call-taker handles calls independently.

 5. Refresher Training. The District shall also from the date of this Order provide refresher training for each call-taker every six (6) months or more frequently if test results fall below performance standards as set forth in Paragraph XX below from the ...


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