Tag Archives: deaf

The IC Helps with Video Phone Testing for El Paso County

Mathew Ruggles using the video phone at The El Paso County Citizens Service Center.

Mathew Ruggles using the video phone at The El Paso County Citizens Service Center.

The Deaf & Hard of Hearing program of The Independence Center is involved in making telephone communication more accessible to the deaf community in the Pikes Peak Region. Matthew Ruggles and Angela Tenorio, deaf and hard of hearing program staff at The IC, helped with testing the new video phones at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center in August 2015.

Ruggles explained that the video phones help people with auditory disabilities have equal access to telephone communication. Video phones provide the ability for a person who is deaf to connect with a sign language interpreter via video. The interpreter then translates sign language to spoken voice to the person on the other end of the line.

Phones are being installed in other El Paso County buildings such as the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, the Citizens Service Center, and Department of Motor Vehicle locations. The IC continues to advocate for civil and governmental accountability with ADA compliance and is committed to providing expertise with disability access concerns when invited to assist by civil or governmental entities.

Is the Safety of Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing at Risk?

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

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