Dialing 9-1-1 is the most familiar and effective way Americans have of finding help in an emergency. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) to provide direct, equal access to their services for people with disabilities who use teletypewriters (TTYs), which are also known as “telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs).”

This device, accessed through 911, allows callers with hearing disabilities to seek emergency assistance without delay. Callers can call CENCOM by typing a request which Telecommunicators receive and respond to by typing replies. The center has recently installed new state of the art TDD devices which automatically pick up incoming TDD calls or signals from all phone lines. CENCOM is able to communicate to the hearing/speech impaired by using a TTY/TDD interface.

If a caller uses a TTY/TDD, the caller should:

  • Stay calm, place the phone receiver in the TTY, dial 911.
  • After the call in answered, press the TTY keys several times. This may help shorten the time necessary to respond to the call.
  • Give the dispatcher a moment to respond. If necessary press the TTY keys again. The dispatcher should answer and type “GA” for Go Ahead.
  • Tell what is needed; police, fire department, or ambulance. Give your name, address and phone number where help is needed.
  • Stay on the telephone if it is safe to do so. Answer the dispatcher’s questions.
  • If a Deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller doesn’t have a TTY/TDD, the caller should call 911 and don’t hang up. Not hanging up leaves the line open. The caller’s address is displayed on the dispatcher’s screen and help will be sent.