BACKGROUND1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice (Department), against the County of Franklin, Pennsylvania (County). The complainant alleges that the County has violated title II of the ADA and the Department of Justices implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, because the 9-1-1 emergency service provided by the County violates the Title II regulation by failing to receive and respond to calls by individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) for telephone communication and, in particular, failing to adequately respond to silent/no voice contact calls.
2. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the County of Franklin, Pennsylvania.
3. The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine whether the County complied with title II of the ADA and the Justice Departments implementing regulation; issue findings; and, where appropriate, 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 of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
4. The County of Franklin, Pennsylvania, is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justices regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.
5. The subject of this Agreement is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to enjoy equal participation in the benefits of the services, programs, and activities provided by the Countys 9-1-1 emergency service.
6. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter regarding areas covered in paragraphs 7-14, except as provided in paragraphs 15 and 17.
A. Policies and Procedures
7. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will:
a. Establish and maintain a working relationship with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have speech impairments, and organizations for, or on behalf of those individuals, in order to continue to evaluate the services, practices and procedures that relate to the County's 9-1-1 services.
b. Based on its ongoing evaluation, modify its current policies, practices and procedures relating to the existing 9-1-1 system, as may be required, to ensure that TDD calls for 9-1-1 services are processed effectively.
c. Query all silent, open line calls with a TDD to assess the basis for the call and to dispatch the appropriate emergency equipment and personnel. At a minimum, the Countys policies and procedures will conform to the guidelines recommended by the National Emergency Number Association for response to silent calls and hang up calls.
8. 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 County has provided, and will continue to provide, comprehensive training for every 9-1-1 call-taker, including new hires. The training includes: a) general information about title II of the ADA 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 general information about American Sign Language; and c) practical instruction on identifying and processing TDD calls, including the importance of using proper syntax and protocol when responding to TDD calls.
9. The County agrees to instruct its employees who are responsible for providing 9-1-1 services to comply with the applicable provisions of this Agreement.
10. The County agrees to:
a. Establish criteria and test each trainee's competency at the conclusion of the training described in paragraph 8 above;
b. Develop and implement a supplemental training plan for any 9-1-1 call-taker who does not satisfactorily complete the required training;
c. Provide a refresher training course every six months from the effective date of this Agreement in order to maintain skill level;
d. Document all training provided, including each call-taker's employee number, title and the date of the training, and provide a copy of the documentation to the Department of Justice upon request; and
e. Begin the actions specified in paragraphs 10.a, 10.b and 10.d on the effective date of this Agreement and continue these actions as indicated above.
C. Testing and Audit
11. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County shall, on a quarterly basis, conduct test TDD calls on each watch to each call-taking position. These tests shall be unannounced and shall be documented to include the date and time of the test, the call-taker position, identification of the call as "silent" or transmitting tones, time elapsed from the initiation of the TDD call until the 9-1-1 call-taker responds, and whether the call was processed properly and efficiently according to departmental policies and training directives. If testing reveals inadequacies in the handling of TDD calls, the County shall take immediate remedial action that may include as appropriate: additional training, equipment changes, additional policy or procedural changes, and disciplinary action. Results from each round of tests shall be summarized and sent to the Department on a semi-annual basis along with a description of any actions taken to remedy inadequacies uncovered by the tests. The quarterly testing and semi-annual audit reports shall be required for two years from the effective date of this Agreement.
12. Within 120 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County agrees to publish a notice on two separate occasions in a newspaper of general circulation serving the population serving by the Countys 9-1-1 system . This notice will inform members of the public about provisions of title II of the ADA, its applicability to the County's 9-1-1 services, and the County's efforts to comply with ADA requirements.
13. The County agrees to provide a copy of the notice to any person or entity upon request.
E. Progress Report
14. Within 160 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will submit a report to the Department of Justice detailing the actions it has taken to comply with the preceding provisions. This report will include copies of any policies and procedures modified pursuant this Agreement and copies of notices published in newspapers.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
15. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the County 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 the County 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 the County, 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 and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
16. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the County 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.
17. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
18. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the County or the Department upon request.
19. 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, shall 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 County's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
20. This Agreement will remain in effect for three years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until the parties agree that full compliance with this Agreement by the County has been achieved, whichever comes later.
21. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
22. The person signing for the County of Franklin, Pennsylvania, represents that he is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement.
The County of Franklin, Pennsylvania: FOR THE UNITED STATES:
Jerry Flasher, Director
The County of Franklin, Pennsylvania
157 Lincoln Way East, Courthouse
Chambersberg, PA 17202-2211
RALPH F. BOYD, JR.
Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Acting Deputy Chief
JOSH MENDELSOHN, Supervising Attorney
PAULA N. RUBIN, Investigator
Disabilty Rights Section- NYA
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington , DC 20035-6738
July 16, 2004