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February 5, 2003

TTY to give hearing-impaired students access to telephones

From: - 05 Feb 2003

by Lauren Shoda
State Horent
February 05, 2003

3e3f754092db8-64-1.jpg TTY phones are located in numerous buildings across campus for the hearing impaired.
Photo by Heaji Park

Steps have been taken to ensure that hearing-impaired students at Sacramento State have more access to phones integrated with TTY equipment on campus.

A TTY, which is short for TeleTypewriter, is a device that lets deaf and hearing people type back and forth using telephones. Millions of people use the devices, including the hearing impaired and those with speech impairments.

Until recently, there was only one TTY integrated telephone on campus, located in the Students with Disabilities Center. Students were only able to access the phone during business hours, said Spencer Freund, Associate VP for Academic Affairs.

Once the issue of few TTY integrated phones on campus was brought to CSUS officials' attention, TTY equipment was installed on six public phones on campus.

"We will do all we have to do to accommodate students with disabilities," said Freund. "When we received a request for more pay phones with TTY equipment, we immediately took action to accommodate students. Until we hear there is a rising concern that certain areas on campus need more, there is no way for us to know."

TTY integrated public phones are located in Lassen Hall, Shasta Hall, the Student Health Center, the University Union, the Public Service Building and in the library. The only building that allows 24-hour-a-day access on campus is the Public Service Building.

"The phones were strategically placed in buildings where there is more student traffic," said Patricia Sonntag, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Issues have been raised that emergency phones in the parking lots that directly contact the campus police in an emergency situation should be integrated with TTY.

"Public Safety would respond to emergency phones if buttons were pressed. Even though a deaf person could not actually communicate back and forth into the phone, the campus police would be there to investigate immediately after the button was pressed," said Disability Management Counselor Judy Dean.

"Currently students are using pagers and cell phones with text messaging, so the request for TTY equipment has dropped somewhat," Dean said.

Campus officials expressed concern with the TTY equipment being in the parking lots and outside because of vandalism.

"Of course we would like more phones," said Sonntag, "but we also have to consider the fact that vandalism could occur, which is why the phones are located inside buildings. There is also TTY equipment in the campus police Station."

Sonntag said money is not an issue regarding the TTY capability not being on the emergency phones. It seems to be more of a matter of making the problem known.

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