SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
DESCHUTES COUNTY, OREGON 9-1-1 SERVICE DISTRICT
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a compliance review of the Deschutes County, Oregon 9-1-1 Service District (Deschutes 9-1-1), under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. During a routine inspection of a related governmental entity, the Department of Justice determined that Deschutes 9-1-1 violates in part the Title II regulation by failing to respond adequately to "silent/no voice contact" calls.
The review was conducted by the Disability Rights Section of the Department's Civil Rights Division and focused on Deschutes 9-1-1's compliance with the following title II requirements:
C to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including furnishing auxiliary aids and services when necessary, 28 C.F.R. § 35.160; and
C to provide direct access via TTY (text telephone) or computer-to-telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services, for persons who use TTY's and computer modems, 28 C.F.R. § 35.162.
As part of its compliance review, the Department reviewed Deschutes 9-1-1's policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
1. The ADA applies to Deschutes 9-1-1 because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
2. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to determine the compliance of Deschutes 9-1-1 with title II of the ADA and the Department's title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
3. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Deschutes 9-1-1.
4. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
5. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled "Implementation and Enforcement."
ACTIONS TAKEN BY DESCHUTES 9-1-1
6. Deschutes 9-1-1 has ensured that each 9-1-1 call station is equipped with the computer equivalent of a TTY.
7. Deschutes 9-1-1 has developed procedures for answering 9-1-1 calls that include training all call takers to use a TTY to take 9-1-1 calls.
8. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, Deschutes 9-1-1 will develop procedures for answering 9-1-1 calls that include training to recognize a "silent" open line as a potential TTY call and to respond by TTY.
9. Deschutes 9-1-1 will monitor its incoming 9-1-1 TTY calls to ensure they are answered as quickly and accurately as other calls received.
10. Deschutes 9-1-1 will incorporate correct TTY call-taking procedures into 9-1-1 call takers' performance evaluations and will amend its personnel policies to include written disciplinary procedures for call takers who fail to perform TTY call-taking consistent with the training and procedures. Deschutes 9-1-1 will implement and report to the Department its evaluation and procedures within three months of the effective date of this Agreement.
11. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, Deschutes 9-1-1 will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions Deschutes 9-1-1 has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include copies of adopted policies.
12. Throughout the life of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), Deschutes 9-1-1 will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, and will take whatever actions are necessary (such as routine testing of accessibility equipment and routine accessibility audits of its programs and facilities) to do so. This provision does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs. 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
13. If at any time Deschutes 9-1-1 desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
14. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that Deschutes 9-1-1 has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for a modification of the relevant terms, the Department will so notify Deschutes 9-1-1 in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to Deschutes 9-1-1, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce title II.
15. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for Deschutes 9-1-1 to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
16. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
17. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by Deschutes 9-1-1 or the Department on request.
18. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Deschutes 9-1-1's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
19. This Agreement will remain in effect for two years and two months.
20. The person signing for the Deschutes 9-1-1 represents that he or she is authorized to bind Deschutes 9-1-1 to this Agreement.
21. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
For Deschutes 9-1-1:
LAURA WOLFE, Director
Deschutes County 9-1-1 Service District
63333 Highway 20 West
Bend, Oregon 97701
For the United States:
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA,
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Senior Counsel
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Washington, DC 20530