State of the Art and Recommendations Related to 911-411-211 Telephone Response Systems

911, 411, 211 telephone systems are a critical issue for deaf and many hard-of-hearing individuals. These systems, which provide public access to emergency and information systems available to society at large, are not easily or dependably available to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

This strand of research will begin by bringing together experts from across the colleges of RIT to examine the users and cultural and telecommunications issues most relevant to making these communication systems available to deaf and hard-of-hearing persons. This university-wide working group of campus experts on technical and user issues will review the literature and state-of-the-art of existing telecommunications technologies. Working with Cisco personnel on emerging technological solutions in the development of telecommunications systems, the RIT working group will develop a 15-20 page whitepaper outlining perceived needs and solutions. This whitepaper will serve as the starting point for a series of focus groups and campus/community-wide forums to seek input from deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing individuals who work in the field of deafness, and to serve as an educational opportunity for participants. Interpreters and real-time captionists will be present at the focus groups and forums to assure clear and comprehensive communication among all participants.

A professional evaluator and focus group specialist will attend and document all meaningful discussion and suggestions at the focus group sessions and forums. All captioned files will be retained for analysis.
Following data gathering at the RIT level, the group will participate in national and international discussions with other interested groups to better fit the needs and suggestions of the RIT Deaf community into the context of US regulatory and industry decision-makers. This portion of the project will require some travel to national conferences and possibly to other centers that conduct policy and technology development for emergency communications.

At the conclusion of the first year of work, the primary output of this group will be the compressive 15-20 page whitepaper and an action plan of recommendations that will include developing emergency and information communication systems and technologies and a summary of the issues and/or capabilities of primary significance to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. This final report will be made available to the community via the NTID Center on Access Technology website (http://www.rit.edu/ntid/cat ) and to Cisco.