U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
Americans with Disabilities Act:
ACCESS FOR 9-1-1 AND
TELEPHONE EMERGENCY SERVICES
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
This document is part of a technical assistance program to provide State and local governments
and persons with disabilities with information about the requirements of the ADA for direct, equal
access to 9-1-1 for persons with disabilities who use TTYs. This guidance is an updated version of
the Department of Justice’s earlier guidance entitled, “Commonly Asked Questions Regarding
Telephone Emergency Services.” It explains in practical terms how the ADA’s requirements apply
to 9-1-1 services, including equipment, standard operating procedures, and training, and should be
useful to 9-1-1 service providers, equipment vendors, participating telephone companies, and
individuals with disabilities.
Different emergency providers may have different capabilities and features. For instance, some
larger providers have “Enhanced 9-1-1" or “E9-1-1,” which automatically identifies for 9-1-1 call
takers the telephone number and/or address of callers. Some providers have call distribution
systems, which place incoming calls in a queue and distribute them to the next available call taker.
Other, smaller providers, may not have these capabilities. This guidance can be useful to all types
of telephone emergency providers, both small and large.
A. ADA Coverage of Telephone Emergency Services
Title II of the ADA covers telephone emergency service providers and other State and local
government entities and instrumentalities. The Department’s regulation is published at 28 C.F.R.