SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

THE SHERIFF OF THE PARISH
OF WASHINGTON, LOUISIANA





COMES NOW the Sheriff of the Parish of Washington, Louisiana (hereinafter “the Sheriff”) and the United States of America who through their undersigned representatives, stipulate and agree to the following:


BACKGROUND


The instant matter was initiated by a complaint under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134 by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana concerning the 9-1-1 services provided by the Sheriff.

The United States Department of Justice (hereinafter “the Department”), is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to conduct compliance reviews to determine the Sheriff’s compliance with the above-referenced portion of the ADA as well as under the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.104, and to issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Further, the Attorney General of the United States 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.

The parties to this settlement agreement (hereinafter “Agreement”) have determined that their respective interests can be met by securing compliance by voluntary means and have, therefore, voluntarily entered into this Agreement, as follows:


TERMS AND CONDITIONS

1. The Sheriff is amenable to the requirements of the ADA because it is a public entity within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12115.

2. That by signing this Agreement, the Sheriff does not admit that its current services, policies or practices, including those related to its 9-1-1 services, constitute a violation of the ADA. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission of liability by the Sheriff.

3. That the subject of this Agreement is the provision of direct access to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services for individuals with disabilities who use TDD’s, and the development and/or continuation of policies and procedures to ensure that the 9-1-1 services provided to TDD users are as effective as those provided to other telephone users. The subject services are those provided in the Sheriff by the PSAP operated by the Washington Parish Sheriff.


TECHNOLOGY

In order to provide TDD users direct access to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services, the Sheriff agrees that it will make the following technological changes/improvements, within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement:

4. Obtain and install a back-up TDD at its PSAP location through the Washington Parish Communications District (hereinafter, “the District”). Such stand alone back up equipment shall be maintained even in the event the District upgrades to an “all-in-one” console such as the CML ECS-1000 system currently under consideration which includes the TDD in the same CAD display.

5. Ensure that all TDDs are installed to enable call-takers to manually switch between and/or simultaneously engage in voice and ASCII/Baudot transmission to be able to respond to calls from users of Voice Carry Over or Universal telephones.

6. Ensure that TDD equipment are included in power failure contingency plans.

7. Obtain consultation from the deaf community on the content of outgoing messages on pre-programmed function keys.

8. Formally designate someone to keep abreast of technological developments in the area of TDD and related modem telephony equipment.

The Parish agrees that in connection with any future upgrades it will make the following technological changes/improvements within 180 days of the effective date of this Agreement:

9. Obtain and maintain equipment or modify existing equipment to enable call-takers to automatically or manually switch between and/or simultaneously engage in voice and ASCII/Baudot transmission to be able to respond to calls from users of Voice Carry Over or Universal telephones.

10. Ensure that any upgrade equipment obtained through the District possesses the capability of detecting a TDD tone when it is initiated by the caller (or when the caller’s TDD automatically responds to a “silent” open line interrogation–see infra).


POLICY, PRACTICES AND PROCEDURES

In order to ensure effective processing of calls from TDD users to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services, the Sheriff agrees that it will establish and implement the following policies, practices and procedures, within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement:

11. Formally issue a written SOP for “silent” open line calls to ensure that call-takers will consider a “silent” open line as a potential TDD call and will, inter alia, query the “silent” open line with a TDD.

12. Establish and maintain written SOPs for: (a) receiving and responding to calls from users of Voice Carry Over or Universal telephones; (b) calling back a TDD caller when circumstances warrant; and (c) handling Telephone Relay Service (TRS) calls.

13. Establish and maintain a written SOP to conduct a self test TDD call at the beginning of each shift to ensure the system’s capaSheriff for receiving TDD calls is fully operational at all times of the day.

14. Establish a regular maintenance schedule for all TDD related equipment.

15. Initiate the keeping of statistics on TDD calls received by the Washington Parish Sheriff’s 911 Communications Center.

16. Establish and maintain a working relationship with the community of deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired people in order to continue to evaluate the services, practices and procedures that relate to the Washington Parish Sheriff’s 911 Communications Center.


TRAINING

In order to further ensure effective processing of calls from TDD users to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services by 9-1-1 call-takers, the Sheriff agrees that it will provide comprehensive training for every 9-1-1 call-taker including newly hired call-takers.

17. The training will include: (a) general information about Title II of the ADA; (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; (c) practical instruction on identifying and procesing of TDD calls, including the importance of using proper syntax and protocol when responding to TDD calls and Relayed calls.

18. For current employees the training described above shall take place as soon as possible, but in no event shall said training commence later than 30 days after the effective date of this agreement.

19. To insure the effectiveness of the training described above, the Sheriff shall:

a. Utilize the Emergency Access Self-Evaluation (EASE) program developed by the Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc., and/or the book/software bundle entitled Responding Effectively to 911 TDD Calls available from the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, or their equivalent to establish criteria and test each call-taker or trainee’s competency at the conclusion of the training described above;

b. Develop and implement a supplemental training plan for any call-taker who does not satisfactorily complete the subject required training;

c. Provide a refresher training course every six (6) months over a period of two years from the effective date of this Agreement in order to maintain call-takers’ skill levels;

d. Document all training provided, including each call-taker’s employee number, title and the date of training, and provide copies of the documentation to the Department upon request.


TESTING AND AUDIT

In order to further ensure effective processing of calls from TDD users to the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services by 9-1-1 call-takers, the Sheriff agrees that starting within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, it will, on a quarterly basis, conduct test TDD calls on each shift to each manned call-taking position, as follows:

20. 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 call-taker responds, the speed of the call-taker’s typing, clarity of communication and utilization of TDD shorthand and protocol.

21. In addition, the Sheriff will cooperate with any and all efforts by the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore [( 985 ) 892 - 2581] and those members of the deaf community acting as test callers. Test calls from such individuals will initially identify themselves as such and may proceed to conduct a call whose objective is to obta
in emergency services under either a police, medical or fire scenario. Any and all test result information received from the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore shall be separately included in the audit information as outlined below.

22. If testing reveals inadequacies in the handling of TDD calls, the Sheriff shall take immediate remedial action that may include as appropriate: additional training, equipment changes, additional policy or procedural changes, and disciplinary action.

23. An audit comprised of a summary of the the results of each round of quarterly tests, as well as all Deaf Action Center of the Northshore test results received within the same period, shall be summarized and sent to the undersigned counsel for the United States on a semi-annual basis along with a description of any actions taken to remedy inadequacies uncovered by the testing.


NOTIFICATION

24. In order to inform members of the public regarding the provisions of Title II and their applicability to the telephone emergency services provided by the Sheriff, the Sheriff will publish, within 30 days of the effective date of this agreement, the following notice or an equivalent on two separate occasions in a newspaper of general circulation serving the Sheriff:

In accordance with the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Sheriff of Washington Parish will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the Sheriff’s services, programs, or activities. Individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD’s) will be provided direct access to the Sheriff’s telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services. The Sheriff will provide telephone emergency services to individuals who use TDD’s that are as effective as those provided to others.

25. The Sheriff will provide a copy of the notice to any person upon request.


PUBLIC EDUCATION

In order to promote and encourage use of the Sheriff’s 9-1-1 services by TDD users, the Sheriff shall, within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement:

26. Initiate a process with communities of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have speech impairments, to develop and implement a public education program to promote the use of 9-1-1 services by TDD users. Such a program may include: developing and distributing written materials, brochures, and open-captioned videotapes; publishing information in telephone directories regarding direct access to 9-1-1 by TDD users; or broadcasting open-captioned television Public Service Announcements.

27. In carrying out the foregoing Public Education objectives, the Sheriff will make every reasonable attempt to coordinate these efforts with the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore.


PROGRESS REPORT

Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriff will submit a report to the undersigned representative of the United States, detailing the actions it has taken to comply with the preceding provisions, as follows:

28. The report will include copies of the notices published in the newspapers pursuant to this Agreement. The Sheriff will use terminology in the report that is consistent with that used by the emergency telephone services industry regarding its functions and positions.

29. The Sheriff will follow the above-described initial progress report with similar reports to the undersigned representative of the United States on an annual basis.


COMPENSATION TO THE COMPLAINANT

30. The Sheriff will pay the sum of $1500 to to the individual United States’Complainant. Within thirty (30) days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Sheriff will deliver a check in the amount of $1500 payable to Cynthia Jane Castleberry, the complainant herein. The check is compensation for alleged discrimination against the Complainant who is deaf. Simultaneous with the mailing of the check, the Sheriff will provide to the Department of Justice a copy of the check for its records.


IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE AGREEMENT

31. This agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it, may be made available to any person. The Sheriff will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person on request.

32. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute a civil action in federal district court seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement.

33. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce same.

34. 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 of the parties or their agents, that is not contained in this Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.

This    22nd    day of    June   , 2004.



For the Sheriff of Washington Parish, Louisiana


                                                      




For the United States of America:

JIM LETTEN
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY


                                                      
GLENN K. SCHREIBER
Assistant United States Attorney
Hale Boggs Federal Building
501 Magazine Street, Second Floor
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Telephone: (504) 680-3093

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December 29, 2005