ADA Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge Base - Telecommunication (ADA Title IV)

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State and local agencies that provide emergency telephone services must provide "direct access" to individuals who rely on a teletypewriter (TTY, also known as a telecommunication device for deaf persons or TDD) or computer modem for telephone communication. Telephone access through a third party or through a relay service does not satisfy the requirement for direct access. Where a public entity provides 911 telephone service, it may not substitute a separate seven-digit telephone line as the sole means of access to 911 services by nonvoice users. However, a public entity may  provide a separate seven-digit line for the exclusive use of nonvoice callers in addition to providing direct access for such calls to its 911 line.

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The ADA required the establishment of telephone relay services for individuals who use teletypewriters (TTYs, also known as telecommunications devices for deaf persons or TDDs) or similar devices. The Federal Communications Commission has issued regulations specifying standards for the operation of these services.


On October 8, 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) into law. The CVAA updates federal communications law to increase the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications. The CVAA makes sure that accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s are brought up to date with 21st century technologies, including new digital, broadband, and mobile innovations.

21st Century Communications and Accessibility Act (CVAA)

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For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are offered by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?

Fact Sheet: Effective Communication