ACDL and the National Association of the Deaf File a Lawsuit to Ensure Text-to-9-1-1 Capability is Provided and Readily Available

Network Partner Updates
DDNN Winter 2016/17
Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL)

Deaf residents and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) filed a lawsuit in Arizona federal court seeking direct access to 9-1-1 services through text. The lawsuit seeks to make 9-1-1 services in Arizona accessible to individuals with a disability, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The lawsuit comes as few 9-1-1 centers around the country comply with federal law requiring them to be accessible to individuals with a disability.

Although text-to-9-1-1 capability exists and text access to 9-1-1 services has been required for many years, the State of Arizona and other named defendants have failed to enable this capability. In this case, those with speech or communication disabilities who become victims of crime, who are in need of medical services, or who are in motor vehicle accidents, cannot connect to help directly or immediately. This puts them at greater risk than non-disabled citizens in accessing reliable, time-sensitive and critical life-saving services.

“Federal law requires state and local government entities to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from their services, programs and activities. This includes providing services necessary for effective communication – and certainly this includes access to emergency services,” said Rose Daly-Rooney, the Legal Director of the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring implementation of the text-to-9-1-1 system in Arizona. Plaintiffs in this case represent the thousands of citizens like them who live in fear of being unable to obtain emergency assistance.