State Agrees to Provide $1.36 Million for Counties for Future Implementation of Text to 9-1-1 Services
On June 12, U.S. District Judge John J. Tuchi signed an order approving a settlement between the State of Arizona and plaintiffs in the Text-to-9-1-1 lawsuit that will advance Text-to-9-1-1 deployment across Arizona.
In 2016, the Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) and Stein and Vargas, a Washington, D.C. based law firm, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and three Maricopa County residents against the State and various public agencies in Maricopa County. The lawsuit alleged that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public entities to offer Text-to-9-1-1 services for citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing or have a speech impairment so that they may effectively communicate with 9-1-1 operators. In March 2018, Judge Tuchi approved a settlement between plaintiffs and Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) that led to Text-to-9-1-1’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-9-1-1’s initial deployment and the recurring costs for five years in each county. Under the settlement, the State’s 9-1-1 Office will notify Arizona county 9-1-1 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-9-1-1.
“ACDL appreciates the State’s willingness to dedicate financial and technical resources now to support statewide Text-to-9-1-1 implementation so that citizens who are deaf, hard of hearing, and have speech impairments will have an equal opportunity to secure 9-1-1 services,” stated Rose Daly-Rooney, ACDL’s Legal Director. “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-9-1-1,” said Asim Dietrich, ACDL staff attorney.
Currently, Text-to-9-1-1 is only available in Maricopa County and Lake Havasu City. Citizens should check with their county 9-1-1 administrator or board of supervisors about when they can expect Text-to-9-1-1 may come to their area.
Text to 9-1-1 will allow 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 9-1-1.