U.S. Department of Justice

Civil Rights Division

Disability Rights Section

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Americans with Disabilities Act


Access for 9-1-1 and Telephone Emergency Services


I. Introduction

Dialing 9-1-1 is the most familiar and effective way Americans have of finding help in an emergency. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to provide direct, equal access to their services for people with disabilities who use teletypewriters (TTYs), which are also known as "telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs)."

This document is part of a technical assistance program to provide State and local governments and persons with disabilities with information about the requirements of the ADA for direct, equal access to

9-1-1 for persons with disabilities who use TTYs. This guidance is an updated version of the Department of Justice's earlier guidance entitled, "Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Telephone Emergency Services." It explains in practical terms how the ADA's requirements apply to 9-1-1 services, including equipment, standard operating procedures, and training, and should be useful to 9-1-1 service providers, equipment vendors, participating telephone companies, and individuals with disabilities.

Different emergency providers may have different capabilities and features. For instance, some larger providers have "Enhanced 9-1-1" or "E9-1-1," which automatically identifies for 9-1-1 call takers the telephone number and/or address of callers. Some providers have call distribution systems, which place incoming calls in a queue and distribute them to the next available call taker. Other, smaller providers, may not have these capabilities. This guidance can be useful to all types of telephone emergency providers, both small and large.


A. ADA Coverage of Telephone Emergency Services

Title II of the ADA covers telephone emergency service providers and other State and local government entities and instrumentalities. The Department's regulation is published at 28 C.F.R. Part 35. To obtain a copy of the ADA or its implementing regulations, or if you have questions about the ADA, contact the Department of Justice ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice), or (800) 514-0383 (TTY), or access the Department's ADA Home Page at



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July 15, 1998