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NENA Program to Test 9-1-1 Accessibility to Deaf

June 16, 2005  | 

The National Emergency Number Association has launched a system designed to ensure that the equipment that allows the deaf or hearing impaired to contact 9-1-1 centers is working properly.

The automated system, TTY-PASS, was developed to help 9-1-1 centers comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that every emergency operator have access to text-based telecommunications devices for the deaf, known as TTYs or TDDs. The ADA also requires regular testing of such equipment.

TTY-PASS works by sending a three-minute test script to the 9-1-1 operator’s TTY. The 9-1-1 call-taker then copies the received text into a secure website, where a score is generated. To receive a passing score, the TTY must have a total character error rate of one percent or less. The system was developed in partnership between NENA and TelecomXchange International (TXI), a Washington, D.C.-based company specializing in telecommunications testing and performance assessments. “Until now, 9-1-1 call centers have had no convenient and cost-effective way to frequently test TTY performance,” said Edward Hall, founder of TXI. “This program ensures the TTY is capable of receiving wireless and conventional phone calls, which results in the ability to provide better service and to save lives.” TTY-PASS has an annual fee of $75 per TTY, which includes unlimited testing. More information on the system is available at nena.org.

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