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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES:
Title V of H.R. 2273 A BILL TO ESTABLISH A CLEAR AND COMPREHENSIVE PROHIBITION OF
DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY
SEPTEMBER 27, 1989
Serial No. 101-96
Printed for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1990
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE
JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan, Chairman JAMES H. SCHEUER, New York
NORMAN F. LENT, New York HENRY A. WAXMAN, California
EDWARD R. MADIGAN, Illinois PHILIP R. SHARP, Indiana
CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California JAMES J. FLORIO, New Jersey
MATTHEW J. RINALDO, New Jersey EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts WILLIAM E. DANNEMEYER, California THOMAS A. LUKEN, Ohio
BOB WHITTAKER, Kansas DOUG WALGREN, Pennsylvania
THOMAS J. TAUKE, Iowa AL SWIFT, Washington
DON RITTER, Pennsylvania MICKEY LELAND, Texas
THOMAS J. BLILEY, JR., Virginia CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
JACK FIELDS, Texas MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma
MICHAEL G. OXLEY, Ohio W.J. "BILLY" TAUZIN, Louisiana
HOWARD C. NIELSON, Utah RON WYDEN, Oregon
MICHAEL BILIRAKIS, Florida RALPH M. HALL, Texas
DAN SCHAEFER, Colorado DENNIS E. ECKART, Ohio
JOE BARTON, Texas BILL RICHARDSON, New Mexico
SONNY CALLAHAN, Alabama
ALEX MCMILLAN, North Carolina
John S. ORLANDO, Chief of Staff
JOHN M. CLOUGH, JR., Staff Director
SUBCOMMITTEE ON TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND FINANCE
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts, Chairman AL SWIFT, Washington
MATTHEW J. RINALDO, New Jersey MICKEY LELAND, Texas
EDWARD R. MADIGAN, Illinois CARDISS COLLINS, Mlinois
CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma
THOMAS J. TAUKE. Iowa W.J. “BILLY” TAUZIN, Louisiana
DON RITTER, Pennsylvania RALPH M. HALL, Texas
THOMAS J. BLILEY, JR., Virginia DENNIS E. ECKART, Ohio
JACK FIELDS, Texas BILL RICHARDSON, New Mexico
MICHAEL G. OXLEY, Ohio JIM SLATTERY, Kansas
DAN SCHAEFER, Colorado JOHN BRYANT, Texas
NORMAN F. LENT, New York RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
GERARD SALEMME, Policy Analyst
New England Telephone Co., on behalf of United States Telephone
Hoyer, Hon. Steny H., a Representative in Congress from the State of
Jordan, I. King, president, Gallaudet University
phone and Telegraph Co.
Direct Connect, Minnesota Relay Service, statement .....
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES:
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1989
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE,
Washington, DC. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:37 a.m., in room 2322, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Edward J. Markey (chairman) presiding.
Mr. MARKEY. Good morning. The subcommittee will come to order. Today we will hold a hearing on Title V of H.R. 2273, the "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989." This landmark legislation will extend civil rights protection to those Americans with disabilities, and help tear down the barriers that have prevented the disabled from becoming full and equal members of society.
Today the subcommittee will examine legislation designed to bridge the gaps in our Nation's telecommunications system that have been unwillingly created by an insensitive and unsympathetic society.
This bill will guarantee communications for impaired Americans and for those people with speech or hearing disabilities, equal access to the Nation's telecommunications networks.
At present, there are many times, often when it matters the most, that a hearing-impaired person simply cannot use the telephone. Imagine not being able to call home from a friend's house, or use the phone in someone else's office, or even call 911 outside your home in an emergency.
Well, for many of the Nation's 26 million hearing-impaired persons, this is not some far fetched nightmare. It is a daily reality,
The enactment of the Communications Act of 1934, with the goal of universal service for all Americans, we in the Congress have been trying to ensure that all Americans have access to the phone. Today this goal is more important than ever because information and communications drive our society. The telephone is no more a luxury item, but an essential part of our everyday lives. Our link to the rest of the world.
The legislation that we are considering today will bring the communications impaired much closer to the realization of the universal service goal, and open up an entire new market of consumers. In essence, this bill will enable the communications impaired to use the telephone for the same purposes the rest of the population has come to take for granted.
Title V of H.R. 2273 establishes a seamless, interstate, and intrastate relay system for the use of telecommunications devices for the deaf, TDD's. That will be the vital link through which communications-impaired individuals will have access to the outside world.
This device, connected to an operator relay system, will allow a communications-impaired caller to communicate with anyone who has a telephone anywhere in the country. The relay operator, acting as an intermediary between the two parties, will translate typed TDD messages by voice and vice versa.
A few States already have relay systems in place, and have seen how the access they provide benefits segments of the communications-impaired population. In California, for example, the call volume has reached approximately 245,000 calls a month.
An entire segment of the population now has an opportunity to escape from a world of virtual silence, and into one of modern communication, and information services, but more needs to be done to open an escape route for the many States that have not progressed as rapidly as others.
Last year, the enactment of the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988, a bill which originated in this subcommittee, was a great step forward in improving the access of the communications-impaired to telephone services. We are now poised to take the next step, providing the communications tools and services needed for them to become more productive in society, and thereby benefiting all of us.
As chairman of the subcommittee, one of my highest priorities has been to ensure that the wonders of modern telecommunications are available to all Americans at affordable rates. I am certain that all of us in Congress agree that achieving the goal of universal service in an ever expanding telephone network is not possible without providing equal access to the communications-impaired.
With that, time for a statement by the Chair has expired, and I now turn and recognize the ranking minority member, the gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Rinaldo.
Mr. RINALDO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for calling a hearing on this important legislation. The basic pur. pose of the "Americans with Disabilities Act of 1989” is to remove barriers that prevent disabled citizens from leading productive lives, and contributing fully to their communities.
Nowhere is this bill more important to achieve than in the world of telecommunications. More and more, telecommunications provide the essential link with our fellow man. It has become the glue, you might say, that holds society together.
Unfortunately, very little progress has been made in providing our hearing- and speech-impaired citizens with full and equal access to the telephone network. Just last July the FCC concluded that interstate TDD relays are virtually nonexistent.
I am proud that this subcommittee has been the most active body in Congress in trying to correct that situation. Last year we passed two important bills to close the gap. The Hearing Aid Compatibility Act requires all telephones to be able to use with hearing aid.
The Telecommunications Accessibility and Enhancement Act requires the Government to provide ATDD relay systems so that