Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program 

Telecommunications Access for the Deaf and Disabled 

Administrative Committee (TADDAC) 

 

December 16, 2010 

10:00 AM to 4:00 PM 

Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, Main Office 

1333 Broadway St., Suite 500, Oakland, CA 94612 

 

The Telecommunications Access for the Deaf and Disabled Administrative Committee (TADDAC) held its monthly meeting at the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP) main office in Oakland, California.  TADDAC Vice Chair, Bummy Burstein, called the meeting to order at 10:10 AM.  

  

TADDAC Members Present: 

Kathleen Barrett, Disabled Community-Mobility Impaired seat, Chair (arrived 10:15 am) 

Chriz Dally, Deaf Community seat (arrived 11:00 am) 

Nancy Hammons, Late-Deafened Community seat 

Alik Lee, Division of Ratepayer Advocates seat 

Tommy Leung, Disabled Community – Blind/Low Vision seat 

Colette Noble, Hard of Hearing Community seat 

Bummy Burstein, Deaf Community at Large seat 

Kevin Siemens, Disabled Community-Speech-to-Speech User seat  

 

TADDAC Members Absent: 

Patrick Boudreault, Deaf Community seat 

 

Non-Voting Liaisons Present: 

Shelley Bergum, CCAF Chief Executive Officer           

Linda Gustafson, CPUC Communications Division 

Helen Mickiewicz, CPUC Legal Division 

 

CCAF Staff Present: 

Sharon Albert, Director of Operations 

Priya Barmanray, CRS Program Analyst 

Silke Brendel-Evan, Special Projects Coordinator 

Dan Carbone, Customer Contact Liaison 

Margie Cooper, CRS Contract Specialist 

Patsy Emerson, Committee Assistant  

Karen Evangelista, Committee Coordinator 

Karen Lincoln, Customer Contact Operations Manager 

Jen Minore, Field Operations Manager, Northern California 

Mansha Thapa, Business Analyst 

David Weiss, CRS Department Manager 

 

CPUC Staff Present: 

Jonathan Lakritz, Communications Division 

Penney Legakis, Communications Division 

 

Others Present: 

Ken Arcia, Sprint Relay 

Don Brownell, Revoicer for Winston Ching 

Jenny Buechner, Internet Based Product Manager, Hamilton Relay 

Winston Ching, STS Subject Matter Specialist, AT&T 

Jennifer Coggiola, MA, CCC-SLP 

John Fechter, National Outreach Manager, Hamilton Relay 

Terry Feeney, Area Manager, AT&T 

Marilyn Finn, HLA CA 

Thomas Gardner, Specialty Services Coordinator, Hamilton Relay 

Anne Girard, Director of Marketing, Hamilton Relay 

Otis Hopkins, Attendant to Tommy Leung 

Judy Hurley, AT&T Relay (via telephone) 

Edward Kinal, Hamilton Relay 

April Lindbergh, Channel Manager, AT&T Relay 

Judith Montgomery, STS Subject Matter Specialist, Hamilton Relay 

Brittney Nicholls, Revoicer for Dr. Bob Segalman 

Fred Nisen, Attorney, Disability Rights California 

Lynda Oldenburg, California State University, Sacramento 

Amy Roman, MS, CCC-SLP 

David Rose 

Gail Sanchez, Senior Product Marketing Manager, AT&T Relay 

Dr. Bob Segalman, Founder of Speech to Speech 

Beth Slough, National TRS Contract Manager, Hamilton Relay 

Andie Squires, CTAP Outreach Specialist 

Paul Stuessy, Southern California Outreach Manager, Hamilton Relay 

Karla Thompson, Attendant to Kevin Siemens 

Madelon Thomson, LCSW, Director Patient & Family Services ALS Assoc. 

Ileana Winterhalter, AT&T Regulatory Org. 

 

  1. Welcome and Introduction of Members 

 

          The Committee members and liaisons introduced themselves. 

 

  1. Minutes of the November 18, 2010 TADDAC Meeting  

  

The minutes were accepted with no corrections.   

  

IV. Administrative Business  

     

  1. Report from CPUC Staff  

         Jonathan Lakritz reported that in late November the Commission adopted the order modifying the LifeLine program in California. Two of the most important requirements of the order are that the Program will begin distributing wireless equipment and that certain TTY equipment users may qualify for a second line discount that can be used with a wireless data plan. It is anticipated that sometime in late spring or early summer CD will begin working with TADDAC on the wireless data plan discount and how to implement it. Starting in January they will start working on the numerous issues surrounding wireless equipment distribution, the three biggest being procurement issues, the selection of which wireless devices to distribute, and defining program requirements. The idea is to think all these issues through thoroughly and make long-sighted choices before the actual implementation of the program goes forward.  The real challenge is that the Program can only distribute equipment and not the service plans that equipment is bundled with. Moving forward the CPUC will work closely with CCAF staff to ensure that customers interested in obtaining equipment also know about the LifeLine program. Finally Jonathan gave a big thank you to Shelley and CCAF for the many years of work spent making the new Ed Roberts facility a reality. 

 

          Review of Action Items List from November 18, 2010 meeting. 

           

          Previous Action Item #1:EPAC will update the Committee on TPIC. 

 

          Shelley Bergum stated that TADDAC and EPAC had been charged with developing recommendations for TPIC but it was decided to close this item due to TPIC Program inactivity. Linda Gustafson stated that CD would get back to TADDAC if they should need further input from either committee.  

           

          Previous Action Item #5: Committee members will review the DDTP website (English and Spanish) and give any feedback and suggestions to CCAF. 

 

          Kathleen Barrett reported that she had visited the web site and found it terrific and greatly improved. The Committee will continue to review the site on an ongoing basis and will contact Mary Atkins with any feedback.  

 

          Previous Action Item #27: CPUC Legal Division will prepare a guide to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act for the Committees. 

 

          Helen Mickiewicz had reported previously that the guide was expected to be ready by January of 2011 so the Committee will wait until then to receive the finalized guide and will address the issue again at that time. 

           

          Previous Action Item #31: Helen Mickiewicz will research the question of legal professional privilege for CRS Communication Assistants. 

 

          This item was held for later discussion when Helen will be able to address the issue. 

 

          Previous Action Item #35: Committee members to assist CRS Vendor outreach efforts by sending information on community events to David Weiss.  

 

          The Committee will continue to forward outreach activity information to David on an ongoing basis.  

 

          Previous Action Item #37: TADDAC will receive a report from CCAF on developments of the Deaf Blind Communicator (DBC) when available. 

 

          CCAF has been evaluating the DBC and will send a report to EPAC when the evaluation is completed. 

 

          Previous Action Item #38: Karen Evangelista will prepare a flyer to announce the Deaf Community Seat vacancy on TADDAC.  

 

          Karen has prepared the flyer but Patrick Boudreault’s resignation has not yet been formalized. Helen Mickiewicz advised the Committee to inform Patrick that they would consider his previous emails to Shelley Bergum and Kathleen Barrett (which stated his intention to resign) as actual notice of his resignation, and would proceed with the member replacement process if they did not hear from him otherwise by January 1, 2011. This item is on hold until that time.  

 

          Previous Action Item #39: Kathleen Barrett and Tommy Leung will write a proposal to submit to the CSUN Conference re: hosting of the off-site TADDAC meeting as a CSUN sponsored event. 

 

          Kathleen and Tommy wrote the proposal and Karen Evangelista has submitted it to the conference organizers. Karen is in contact with them and is continuing to research the feasibility and availability of rooms and meeting spaces at the Hyatt hotel during the week of the conference. This item was closed.  

           

  1. Approval of Agenda 

 

The agenda was approved with no changes. 

 

IV. Administrative Business continued 

 

  • Report From the Chair 

Due to the full agenda and in the interest of time, there was no report from the chair.  

 

  • Report from CCAF 

          Shelley Bergum pointed out a couple items included in the meeting binders. First was a summary of a recent presentation of FCC staff to FCC commissioners regarding the implementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act which contains a time line for implementation. One of the first items on the timeline is a report and order regarding deaf/blind equipment distribution which is of interest for its implications for state equipment distribution programs. A second timeline item is the public notice about two new advisory committees appointed by the FCC to study and report on related issues, one of which is the Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC). Richard Ray of EPAC and Sheri Farinha of the NorCal Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing have been appointed to this committee which will give California and the DDTP good representation in how this legislation will be implemented nationally. The next item in the binder Shelley brought to the Committee’s attention was the Consumer Affairs Summary for November prepared by Dan Carbone. Dan’s report noted that program customers frequently say that they aren’t using their TTYs anymore and ask if they should return them to the Program.  Shelley brought this issue to the attention of the Committee so that they could discuss it and make recommendations to the Commission about how the Program should deal with unused TTYs.  Nancy Hammons said that most of the seniors at Fremont Oak Gardens are using VRS services and dropping land line phones, so they bring their unused TTYs in to her, but she doesn’t know what to do with them. Bummy Burstein asked what happened to returned TTYs and, if they would be discarded, could they be donated to someone who could use them elsewhere?  Linda Gustafson agreed that this was an issue that needed looking into and said that perhaps CCAF might locate some natural collection points for the TTYs and make recommendations to CD as to how to proceed. Finally Shelley pointed out that the Field Operations and Customer Contact Operations reports were given as handouts and that next month there will be a photo presentation of the new Berkeley Service Center to give the Committee some idea of how it looks.  

 

V.Public Input 

Marilyn Finn of the HLA of California thanked everyone for all their hard work in getting the third party announcement dropped from CapTel calls which now has allowed users to self-identify. Marilyn also mentioned  new legislation in Arizona regarding calls to 911 by text message. Bummy Burstein referred back to the issue of TTYs and cautioned people to hang on to them for use in an emergency and not to rely on pagers or other wireless devices to contact 911. 

 

New Action Item:   Kathleen Barrett and Nancy Hammons will develop a plan for notifying persons who have TTYs that they are not currently using to consider holding on to them for use in an emergency in order to be able to access 911 dispatchers immediately. 

 

David Weiss noted that the Department of Justice is now holding a series of due process, town hall-style meetings to gather public comment on the ADA in relation to 911 access, especially in terms of wireless. Helen Mickiewicz added that the FCC has required wireless service providers to enhance their capability of providing 911 service precisely because there have been so many problems with it, and although service has improved, it is still not on a par with land line services.  

 

 

VI. Unfinished Business 

    1. Discussion of Off-Site meeting possibilities was held until Karen Evangelista was able to address this topic.   

 

VII. New Business 

 

  1. EPAC Report and Recommendation 

          Shelley Bergum reported that TADDAC had received EPAC’s recommendation of John Levesque to fill the Senior Community seat vacancy. Although John’s daughter, Jackie Conrad, is an employee of CCAF, EPAC and Helen Mickiewicz found there to be no conflict of interest.  

 

Motion: Kevin Siemens moved to accept EPAC’s recommendation of John Levesque to fill the EPAC Senior Citizen Community Seat and the motion passed. 

 

  • Overview of CRS Call Volumes and Consumer Issues 

David Weiss directed the Committee’s attention to the meeting binder and the CapTel call data that showed a decline in call volume, which was unusual. The privacy announcement that was briefly in place was named as the chief cause for this decline. As the CPUC has made changes in the privacy announcement and the consumer is now responsible for announcing the presence of a third party on the call, it is expected that the call volume will go back up.  Hamilton Relay’s intensive ad campaign for the CapTel 800i and the subsequent demand for the phone (added to a temporary backorder situation) may have also contributed to the decline in call volume.   

 

E.Discussion of Conference and Convention Attendance by TADDAC Members in 2011 

Committee members discussed the various conventions they would like to attend in 2011 and agreed to submit their travel requests to Karen Evangelista right away so they can be forwarded to the CPUC. The conferences of interest were the TDI Conference, the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference, the HLAA Conference, the Abilities Expo, the Disability Policies Seminar, and the United Cerebral Palsy Annual Conference. 

 

         New Action Item: Karen Evangelista will send a reminder note to all TADDAC and other committee members to submit their conference attendance requests to her by end of business day Monday, December 20th, for immediate forwarding to the CPUC for review. 

 

         F.Review of Final Decision in the LifeLine Proceeding 

This item was discussed earlier during the CPUC Report but Shelley pointed out that there were excerpts of the pertinent parts of the Decision in the binder regarding land line discounts for data services for DDTP equipment recipients.  

                   

G.Member Reports 

          Colette Noble first complimented Hamilton on their TV ad campaign and then reported that she and a friend have begun a support group in the Sacramento area for persons with cochlear implants and already have about twenty people interested in participating. They have lined up a meeting place with the first meeting date of February 5th and will have captioning and video and a speaker or planned program, such as a Hamilton presentation, at each meeting.  Colette asked the Committee to have any persons they know of who might be interested in being part of the group to please contact her. David Weiss then commented on an upcoming Hamilton ad campaign which will include an ad in the AARP Magazine for the 800i phone. David noted that the 800i is not for basic land line service but that DDTP staff has been alerted to expect calls from customers about it. Kathleen Barrett then told of a recent conversation she had with the owner of a small business who had spoken with some difficulty to a deaf man via a CRS TTY call and was interested in hiring him but wanted to know what resources were available to help him if he hired a deaf person. Kathleen said that this brought forward to her the need for outreach to the hearing community about relay calls and interactions with the deaf and hard of hearing in general. Linda Gustafson spoke of a recent forum at the Commission that dealt with the types of issues Kathleen described. The topic is among the top items on the CPUC agenda and they are currently working with CCAF on a marketing outreach plan for CRS. Linda said that committee members should forward their outreach suggestions for educating the community to Mary Atkins. Tommy Leung added that the issues of first impressions and employment were not important to just the hearing loss community but to anybody with a disability.  

 

Lunch 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm 

 

  • CRS Vendor introductions and Presentations  

Visitors and guests in the audience introduced themselves after which Karen Evangelista gave a brief update on previous Action Item #39 and plans for an offsite meeting at the CSUN Conference. Gail Sanchez of AT&T then gave an overview of their Speech to Speech program.  She began by introducing Winston Ching who is AT&T’s Speech to Speech Subject Matter Expert and part of their 80 person team that includes the support staff of customer care specialists, channel managers, a Webmaster, and Speech to Speech relay operators at 3 different call centers.  They provide traditional relay service in English and Spanish, the new training line, and soon will be offering a visual assisted Speech to Speech service. AT&T relay operators undergo a minimum of 40 hours of training which includes 8 hours with a speech pathologist to learn about speech disorders and disabilities and to see demonstrations of the various communication devices callers may use. By providing tips and techniques that CAs may employ as they complete Speech to Speech calls, AT&T ensures that they are meeting all the RFP requirements for California. They also do outreach by providing a comprehensive, multimedia Website to support STS 24/7 where users can schedule a one-on-one training with an STS specialist. The challenge remains of increasing call volume and doing outreach to persons who could benefit from the service. AT&T welcomed suggestions.  

Next Beth Slough of Hamilton Relay introduced several members of her team who then spoke about Deaf/Blind services and STS. First, Jenny Buechner, Subject Matter Expert (SME) for Deaf/Blind Services, described her work to provide cultural training to CAs on deaf culture and deaf/blind-specific issues. Next, Thomas Gardner, Internal SME for Speech to Speech Services, told of his work training CAs to be better able to discern each callers’ unique communication needs and preferences and thus process calls more effectively, always keeping their focus on the humanity of the STS user. Then Judy Montgomery, a speech-language pathologist SME spoke of her role in promoting the STS user training line and also in the sensitivity training of CAs to help them more accurately interpret a caller’s speech so that they convey the true feeling and meaning of each call. John Fechter, National Outreach Manager, then gave an update on recent outreach events and those planned for the first quarter of 2011. John noted that while Hamilton has been interviewing for the Northern California Outreach Manager position, Paul Stuessy, the Southern California Outreach Manager, had been attending events all over the state. Paul outlined some of these activities and listed various communities and organizations that Hamilton has been reaching out to and partnering with. 

 

Speech to Speech Discussion Panel 

David Weiss began by commending Silke Brendel-Evan for all her work in coordinating the STS panel discussion. David then asked the panel members to introduce themselves and to tell what organizations they are affiliated with, their connection to STS and how frequently they use it, if they use specialized equipment to access STS, and finally what their general experience of STS has been, what they like and what needs improvement. 

 Dr. Bob Segalman began by saying he was the founder of STS and is the president of Speech Communications Assistance by Telephone. He accesses STS using a speakerphone about once a day and also uses an ACD device. He described his overall experience with STS as spotty, that the abilities of the CAs vary widely, and said he would like equipment that better amplifies the consumer’s voice without too much distortion.  

Next Andie Squires introduced herself as a Southern California Outreach Specialist for the California Telephone Access Program who travels throughout Southern California telling various groups and organizations about CTAP and specifically about STS. She gathers comments about the program and sends them to the EPAC and TADDAC committees.  

Fred Nisen, an attorney with Disability Rights California that provides legal assistance to people with disabilities throughout the state, next introduced himself. Fred said that he has been using STS for a long time and that it has been very helpful to him both in his work and at home. It helps him communicate with clients and other attorneys but still has the problem of people he’s calling thinking it is a crank call. Fred also noted the wide variation in the CAs’ ability to understand him. 

Before introducing Winston Ching, David Weiss noted that some STS customers may be unaware that they can set up their own profile and customize the greeting they wish the CA to use which may prevent the recipient from thinking it’s a crank caller. Winston then spoke about his long history of involvement with STS. 

David proceeded to ask Fred how he learned about the 711 Choice and customer profiles, if he found them beneficial, and if he thought it would be helpful if customer service representatives prompted relay users to set these features up. Fred replied that he had found out about 711 Choice through Hamilton Relay when he set up his profile but it took him some time to find out and the process was confusing. He needed to customize his greeting but he did finally get it all sorted out and overall it has been helpful. However, he suggested that there be some place on the profile for listing the primary topics one might discuss so that the CA would have some idea of the type of vocabulary a person might use.  

David next asked Andie if she felt that the STS Web site, the new STS training line, the use of profiles and the additional training of CAs had been helpful in allowing consumers to gain access to the service. Andie replied that yes, these things have been helpful, but the most important thing to keep in mind is an openness to customer feedback, to really listen to their needs and make them a part of the process, to empower them to make STS their own.  

David went on to ask Dr. Bob what type of training he thought the CAs should receive to better relay their calls. Bob answered that sometimes a CA will act as if they do not fully understand the purpose of STS or what is expected of them. Not only does a good CA need to have the oral processing skills of good hearing, patience and common sense, but also needs a healthy respect for and empathy with  the consumer. They need to be precise and consistent about notifying the consumer every time they aren’t completely understood and to learn every technique for helping the consumer to communicate. CAs should also learn what the consumers are like and why they need STS and also to monitor their own work environment in order to optimize their ability to hear and understand what is being said.  

David then asked Fred if there were any features, communication techniques or technologies he would like to see incorporated into STS. Fred said that, aside from the technology, the CA’s ability to understand what a conversation was all about was a big help to him. He used to have problems when he would reach someone’s voicemail and want to leave a message and he would have to make a second call to do so, but both AT&T and Hamilton now have technology that solved that problem.  

David asked the panel if they had heard about visually assisted STS, which has yet to be implemented, and if any of them had any feedback about that technology because it may become part of the program in the future. Bob recommended that DDTP be the one to conduct the VAS trials and that California not actually offer VAS unless it’s prepared to compensate the providers sufficiently to ensure a high quality of service. He added that historically the compensation has been so low that providers had no incentive to maintain service or increase call volume. Bob directed the Committee’s attention to a PowerPoint demonstration on the Web about VAS which is now operating in Finland. Chriz Dally asked what kind of success they were having and what kind of feedback there had been. David said that we would definitely like to learn more about what the Finns are doing and about any research on VAS.  

David went on to ask Winston if he had any recommendations for how to improve customer service based on his own experience. Winston replied that in the past he had been disappointed with how much time it took to file a complaint and how seldom anything got resolved, but he hadn’t had any problems recently.  Nancy Hammons asked how often the panelists used STS and their answers ranged from all day long to maybe twice a week. Nancy also asked if there was a preference among STS users for one provider over another and Linda Gustafson remarked that it was still too early to tell but that both providers are aggressively pursuing STS opportunities. Linda then asked the panel if there were certain things they looked for in an STS provider and Bob said that he looked for their ability to work with his speech-generating device. Fred said that he looked for a provider who had CAs that could understand him and found that he got better service from Hamilton. David said that was further evidence that customers need to have a choice of providers and that California was the only state that offered more than one. Bob added that STS depends on consumer advocacy and recommended a humorous video about STS on YouTube. 

 David asked the audience to please help themselves to the printed materials set out on the counter and Andie reminded them of the 12 CTAP outreach specialists located throughout the state who can bring information and make presentations on STS, relay, and the equipment program and do TTY trainings. David thanked the panelists for their willingness to share their time and experiences and for taking time to be here today.  

 

H. Items for Next Month’s Agenda 

This item was not discussed. 

 

The meeting was adjourned at 3:40 PM. 

 

These minutes were prepared by Patsy Emerson