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May 19, 2004

ADOT'S system no help to deaf

From: Arizona Republic - Phoenix,AZ,USA - May 19, 2004

May. 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Our office has fielded complaints about the Arizona Department of Transportation's new 511 phone system, but for altogether different reasons than cited in the editorial, "511 - Dang it! ADOT's phone help is useful - when Ms. Voice listens" (Friday).

Our deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers have seen the signs posted on highways, encouraging drivers to call the three-digit number for traffic information. However, no TTY number or Web site has been made public, thus disallowing the deaf population from using the same service that hearing drivers can now use.

For our hard-of-hearing population, any automated phone system, including those featuring voice-recognition software, is extremely difficult to navigate. Often, hard-of-hearing callers simply hang up on automated phone systems.

Our agency will provide recommendations to ADOT regarding their new 511 number, but your editorial reminds us that new technology doesn't always equate to accessibility. I also wanted to bring attention to the level of frustration that the deaf and hard-of-hearing go through on a daily basis when trying to obtain information.

Sherri Collins, Phoenix The writer is executive director, Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing.

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