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BURBANK : Special Line Links Deaf With Police

September 01, 1993|ED BOND

Burbank police have set up a special phone line that will allow hearing-impaired callers to communicate directly with dispatchers using a keyboard and a small computer screen.

"When you're talking about an emergency situation, a couple of minutes will make a difference," said Judie Sarquiz, who trained Burbank police dispatchers to use the telecommunications device for the deaf, known as a TDD.

The program was set up to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

"I think it's really a good thing for the hearing-impaired community," Sarquiz said. In the past, deaf and hearing-impaired callers had to use the California Relay Service, in which a telephone operator contacts the police after getting a call from a TDD user, relaying the information back and forth.

"This system versus the old way probably saves three to four minutes," said Burbank Police Sgt. Len Doran.

Mayor George Battey Jr. and police officials unveiled the new system at a news conference in the police communications center Tuesday morning. Each new TDD, officials said, costs $500 and is equipped with a printer and automated message reply for when the dispatcher is busy with other calls.

No phone calls had come in on the device as of Tuesday afternoon, Doran said.

The dispatchers, who were well-prepared to use the TDD because they already had the typing skills, learned TDD "etiquette" in preparation for using the system. For example, Sarquiz said, replies to callers are ended with "GA" for "go-ahead."

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