National Association of the Deaf assures text-to-911 with lawsuit

Published: Jul. 13, 2018 at 11:49 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 16, 2018 at 1:34 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The state of Arizona settled a 2016 lawsuit with the National Association of the Deaf and agreed to fund text-to-911 systems.

Text-to-911 allows people who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech impairment to summon emergency services and report crimes. As with other accommodations for people with disabilities, text-to-911 will also help others where it may be too dangerous to make a voice call to 911.

NAD's lawsuit alleged the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public entities to offer the text-to-911 services.

In March 2018, a judge approved the settlement that led to text-to-911's launch this past April in Maricopa County.

This settlement creates a $1.36 million fund that would cover the projected cost for text-to-911's initial deployment and the recurring costs for five years in each county.

Under the settlement, the state's 911 office will notify Arizona county 911 administrators on how to apply for the funds. The state will then negotiate and enter into agreements with counties who apply for the funds. The state will also offer project management assistance for those counties to take necessary steps to launch text-to-911.

NAD was represented by Washington, D.C.-based law firm Stein and Vargas and the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

"ACDL appreciates the state's willingness to dedicate financial and technical resources now to support statewide Text-to-911 implementation so that citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing, and have speech impairments will have an equal opportunity to secure 911 services," stated Rose Daly-Rooney, legal director, ACDL. "With the availability of this fund, there is no barrier for other counties to join MAG in complying with the ADA's effective communication requirements and deploying Text-to-911," said Asim Dietrich, ACDL staff attorney.

Currently, text-to-911 is only available in Maricopa County and Lake Havasu City. Citizens should check with their county 911 administrator or board of supervisors about when they can expect Text-to-911 in their area.

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