Deaf California Couple Sues For Accessible Roadside Call Boxes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 25, 2005
CONCORD, CALIFORNIA--Because of the efforts of two deaf Californians, the state could be forced to install text telecommunications devices, known as TDDs or TTYs at thousands of emergency call boxes along highways and other roads.
Victoria Munoz and Daniel Arellanes, with the help of the California Association of the Deaf, filed a class-action lawsuit earlier this month against state and local transportation authorities.
The suit stems from an August 2002 accident in which both Munoz and Arellanes were injured. When Arellanes tried to use the nearby call box to phone for help, he found it had no TTD or TTY. Frustrated, worried, and hurt, all Arellanes could do was try to scream into the phone and hope help would come soon.
Help did not come for almost two hours.
They filed the suit against the California Highway Patrol, the California Department of Transportation and nine local Service Authorities for Freeway Emergencies. It claims the agencies violated federal laws, including the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation act of 1973, along with California anti-discrimination law.
"Those call boxes were installed as a life-saving device," Kelby Brick, executive director of law and advocacy at the National Association of the Deaf, told the Mercury News. "To exclude deaf and hard-of-hearing motorists from the same kind of access is to say that deaf and hard-of-hearing lives are worth less than others."
"Legal fight to aid deaf, hard of hearing" (Mercury News)
"Inaccessible Highway Call Boxes Prompt Suit by Deaf" (Ragged Edge Magazine)
California Association of the Deaf