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NENA Launches Nationwide TTY Testing Program

Jun 14, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


MEDIA CONTACTS
Natasha Chin, The RedFlash Group
760-632-8280 x232
nchin@redflashgroup.com

Emily Caccia
National Emergency Number Assn.
800-332-3911
703-812-4600
ecaccia@nena.org



National Emergency Number Association (NENA)
Launches Nationwide TTY Testing Program


Automated System Will Help 9-1-1 Centers Meet Federal Testing Requirements



ARLINGTON, VA. (June 14, 2005) — The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) has announced a new initiative to safeguard the nearly 28 million people in the U.S. who are deaf or hard of hearing with the launch of a system designed to ensure that equipment used by 9-1-1 centers to communicate with hearing-impaired callers is working properly. The automated system, TTY-PASS, was developed to help 9-1-1 centers comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandates that every emergency operator have access to text-based telecommunications devices for the deaf, known as TTYs or TDDs. The ADA also requires regular testing of such equipment.

TTY-PASS works by sending a three-minute test script to the 9-1-1 operator’s TTY. The 9-1-1 call-taker then copies the received text into a secure website, where a score is generated. To receive a passing score, the TTY must have a total character error rate of one percent or less. The system was developed in partnership between NENA and TelecomXchange International (TXI), a Washington, D.C.-based company specializing in telecommunications testing and performance assessments.

“NENA is well-known for being on the leading edge of providing support and resources to 9-1-1 professionals,” said Toni Dunne, ENP, chair of NENA’s ADA/Accessibility Committee. “This initiative uses automated and accurate methods to help PSAPs [public safety answering points] effectively and easily test their TTYs against industry standards and help them comply with the ADA.”
TTYs were invented in the 1930s as a way to send text messages over telephone wires, and often were used by journalists submitting stories. In the 1960s, Robert Weitbrecht, a scientist who was deaf, modified a teletypewriter by adding an acoustic coupler, allowing hearing-disabled people to use telephone lines to communicate.

“Until now, 9-1-1 call centers have had no convenient and cost-effective way to frequently test TTY performance,” said Edward Hall, founder of TXI. “This program ensures the TTY is capable of receiving wireless and conventional phone calls, which results in the ability to provide better service and to save lives.”

TTY-PASS has an annual fee of $75 per TTY, which includes unlimited testing. More information on the system is available at nena.org.



About the National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

NENA’s mission is to save lives and improve the safety of our communities through advancements in the technology, policy and operations that affect 9-1-1 systems. Established as a non-profit organization in 1982 to promote universal acceptance and implementation of 9-1-1, NENA has grown to become the leading professional organization serving all of 9-1-1 emergency communications. With more than 7,000 members in 46 chapters across the U.S. and Canada, NENA serves as “The Voice of 9-1-1” through policy advocacy, the establishment of national standards, certification and testing programs, and a wide variety of educational offerings. Go to www.nena.org to learn more.

About TXI
TelecomXchange International (TXI) provides services to niche markets in the telecommunications industry, including performance assessment and maintenance of telecommunications devices. The company was founded in 2004 by Edward A. Hall, a telecommunications industry principal technical member for 22 years. Hall’s past 11 years have been with two of the leading telecommunications associations in Washington, D.C. Go to www.telecomxchange.com for more information.

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