Letter to the Editor – The Gazette

As a Deaf man and father of two toddlers, and a Deaf wife living in Colorado Springs, and as the Chair of The Independence Center board of directors, I am writing to express my concern about the deregulation of telecommunications systems in this state and the possible loss of landlines. There are five bills in the State Legislature that propose to stop funding maintenance of land lines and move those funds to Broad band expansion as well as deregulate all telephone services (landlines, cell and VOIP). When you buy a VOIP system you are told to make sure you have an alternative way to call 911. Without landlines, what would that alternative be? In California, the price of measured basic telephone service went from $5 to $23 a month, hardly affordable for most seniors and persons with disabilities.

911 currently does not work for deaf people at all given there is no known reliable texting capabilities in El Paso County. We use the 7 digit regular number to call. The new E911 that Colorado Springs is installing cannot provide reverse 911 calls through the Internet to deaf households. On landlines we could receive warning messages so this is a decrease from our already limited access. During the Waldo Canyon Fire, several Deaf people either evacuated very late or not at all because they did not get the alert. I am deeply concerned for the safety of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and senior individuals should land lines not be maintained. In order to maintain those lines and have a way to track and address our complaints with the communications system in Colorado, I urge that deregulation be delayed until the new E911 safety issue for everyone is addressed and that the State Legislature not remove funds from landline maintenance until the wireless and VOIP networks are as reliable as landlines. Change is coming–l know that one day we will be finished with Landlines but not until the new technology is as good as the old for all of us.

Billy Allen
The Independence Center board