EPAC Public Meeting:  March 11, 2010


Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program
Equipment Program Advisory Committee (EPAC)
March 11, 2010
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program, Main Office
1333 Broadway St., Suite 500, Oakland, CA 94612

The Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program’s Equipment Program Advisory Committee (EPAC) held its monthly meeting at the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program main office in Oakland, California. Chairperson, Ann Ruth, called the meeting to order at 10:00 AM.

Committee Members Present:
Ann Ruth, Mobility Impaired Community, Chair
Kenneth Rothschild, Deaf Community, Vice-Chair
Anindya "Bapin" Bhattacharyya, Disabled Community, Deaf-Blind Seat
Loretta Moore, Disabled Community, Blind Seat
Richard Ray, Deaf Community
Julian “Buddy” Singleton, Senior Community
Brian Winic, Hard of Hearing Community

Non-Voting Liaisons Present:
Tyrone Chin, CPUC, Communications Division
Karen Lincoln, CCAF, Customer Contact Department Manager

CCAF Staff Present:
Sharon Albert, Director of Operations
Mary Atkins, Marketing Department Director
Shelley Bergum, CCAF, Chief Executive Officer
Dan Carbone, Customer Contact Liaison
Margie Cooper, CRS Contract Specialist
Chenda Duong, Committee Assistant
Karen Evangelista, Committee Coordinator
John Koste, Telecommunications Equipment Specialist
Jennifer Minore, Field Operations Manager for Northern California
Mansha Thapa, Business Analyst

Others Present:
Michele Ahlman, ClearSounds/HITEC
Sook Hee Choi, SSP to Anindya Bhattacharyya
Mazuri Colley, California Foundation for Independent Living Centers
David Dzumba, Nokia
Lauren Eger, Ohlone Interpreting Student
Royce Johnson, CSD Call Center Manager
Krista Thigpen, Ohlone Interpreting Student
Richard Uzuaris, ClearSounds/HITEC

I. Administrative Business
A. Introductions

The Committee and audience members introduced themselves.

B. Agenda Modification and Approval

The agenda was approved without any modifications.

C. Review of Minutes from Previous Meeting

Kenneth Rothschild pointed out on page 2-6, line 7, “AT &" should read as, “AT & T”. The Committee approved the minutes as corrected.

D. Review of Action Items List

Previous Action Item #10: The Committee will collect feedback from their constituencies about new equipment and technology that is being focused on by EPAC and give it to CCAF.

Brian Winic reported that Apple will begin presale of the iPad on March 12, 2010 and be ready for pick up on April 3, 2010. Customers could purchase the 3G plan for $15 a month through AT&T and is equipped with a phone and Wi-Fi. Responding to several questions from Committee members about the iPad, Brian explained that the device has a 10-inch screen, comes in various amounts of gigahertz, and can run applications similar to the iPhone.

Previous Action Item #51: Loretta Moore will provide the contact information for the group that is working on code compliance for people with disabilities.

Loretta Moore asked Karen Evangelista to review the Committee’s list of recommendations on the equipment in place for emergencies. Karen stated that the Committees’ recommendations were not met exactly, but that most of items were addressed. Karen informed the Committee that their request for a mock evacuation drill at their April meeting was submitted to the building management.

Loretta inquired if the verbal announcements emanated from areas close to the exits, but that information was not available. She recommended that talking smoke detectors be researched for installation. The Committee agreed to keep the action item as ongoing.

Previous Action Item #93: The Committee will discuss and assess the TPIC Program and determine implementation or termination of the Program within EPAC.

This item was placed on hold until June 2010.

Previous Action Item #104: Brian Winic to test Bluetooth compatible devices.

Brian Winic did not have new information to report.

Previous Action Item #106: Richard Ray to update the Committee on Dr. Thad Starner’s emulated 911 TTY Phone.

Richard Ray did not have new information to report.

Previous Action Item #109: Committee to analyze underserved or un-served areas of California. Loretta Moore will lead this project.

Loretta Moore gave a report to the Committee of two counties identified as being underserved or unserved, based on the previous research done by each Committee member. The handout titled, “Number of Outreach and Attendance according to City”, was distributed which focused on San Bernadino and Imperial Counties. Loretta recapped the initial project for Anindya Bhattacharyya, stating that data provided by the Department of Rehabilitation was used to look at the disability, senior, and general populations throughout the state with the hope of finding areas for which the Committee and the DDTP could better serve through outreach efforts and an EPAC off-site meeting.

Loretta shared information provided by So. California Field Operations Manager, Angela Shaw, which included both high and low numbers of attendance, the types of groups in attendance, and what the target audience was at the presentations and field visits in San Bernadino and Imperial Counties. Loretta informed the Committee that data on the Native American communities in these counties were not included, but could be shared with the CTAP Native American Outreach Specialist.

The Committee reviewed the data on the handout and several members suggested targeting the cities of Victorville and Barstow for a possible off-site meeting for EPAC. Sharon Albert offered to supplement the Committee’s data by providing more information for diversity understanding of the communities in those areas based on visits of the Field Advisors.

New Action Item: CCAF will provide information on the San Bernadino population needs gathered from Field staff.

Loretta Moore will continue to work on information and develop a presentation to TADDAC. She will also work with the information provided by Sharon Albert and compile information on senior centers or agencies serving persons with disabilities in and around Victorville and Barstow.

New Action Item: Loretta Moore will develop a report to TADDAC of the results from the study of Underserved and Unserved counties of California.

Previous Action Item #129: Chenda Duong will send the Committee members a copy of the Action List Archive, for use in writing an annual report.

Chenda Duong was unable to send the Action List Archive to the Committee members, but had two print copies available. Loretta Moore stated that the original intent for reviewing the Action List Archive and creating an annual report was to have a form of measurement of EPAC’s accomplishments, be a source for reflection on past work, and could be presented to TADDAC and the CPUC.

New Action Item: The Committee will determine who will work on the EPAC Annual Report and review the Action List Archive document.

Previous Action Item #131: CCAF will research the features of the iPhone vs. iTouch and access to 911.

Mansha Thapa informed that Committee that she has made attempts to contact the iPhone Accessibility Team, but has not yet received a response. She will continue to work on inviting a representative from Apple to make a presentation to the Committee. Anindya Bhattacharyya referred Mansha to a former employee of the Lighthouse for the Blind, Dean Hudson, who is currently working at Apple and may be able to assist Mansha.

Previous Action Item #134: The Committee will investigate and explore new equipment for Deaf-Blind users.

Richard Ray and Anindya Bhattacharyya did not have any updates for the Committee.

Previous Action Item #135: Richard Ray will draft a recommendation to TADDAC, requesting a recommendation to the CPUC, to re-examine the Legislative language mandating a Lifeline requirement for the Wireless Pilot, also making wireless a permanent part of the Program.

Richard Ray thanked Mansha Thapa for assisting him in the development of the documents. He provided two draft proposals for the Committee’s review and feedback. One draft was to remove the LifeLine eligibility requirement from the Pilot Program and make Jitterbug a permanent part of the DDTP and the other was to remove the LifeLine eligibility requirement from the Pilot Program and make wireless cell phones a part of the DDTP. Richard recommended that the Committee select the second draft that uses the phrase, “adaptive wireless cell phones” as opposed to a specific company or product. The Committee members were in favor of the second draft because they feel it is important to provide customers with options, along with establishing the opportunity for other adaptive wireless cell phones in the market to be added to the program.

The Committee also discussed certain language choices and recommended a few amendments. Ann Ruth suggested including information regarding possible financial impacts to the draft proposal. Kenneth Rothschild and Loretta Moore expressed adding the ability to use the wireless phone in emergency situations. Buddy Singleton moved that the Committee accept the second document with the necessary edits discussed and then submit it to TADDAC for review.

New Action Item: Richard Ray will finalize draft recommendation to TADDAC regarding the Lifeline requirement for the Wireless Pilot, also making wireless a permanent part of the Program.

Previous Action Item #136: Ann Ruth and Loretta Moore will work on following up with veteran contacts from the last EPAC off-site meeting.

Ann Ruth and Loretta Moore will begin to work on contacting the guest speakers.

II. EPAC Business
A. Report from the Chair

Ann Ruth informed the Committee that Kenneth Rothschild was the EPAC representative at the February TADDAC meeting. Ken informed the Committee that TADDAC was continuing to streamline the consolidation of CRSAC to TADDAC and that Mark Finn’s term would be expiring in March.
Ken reported that TADDAC had elected their officers; Kathleen Barrett as Chairperson and Gerald “Bummy” Burstein as Vice-Chair.

Ken raised the issue of his role as EPAC liaison to CRSAC being dissolved with the consolidation. Several Committee members expressed the importance of the EPAC liaison to TADDAC be physically present at the meetings. Ann Ruth moved that Kenneth S. Rothschild become the TADDAC liaison to EPAC with the dissolution of his previous role as EPAC liaison to CRSAC. Brian Winic seconded the motion. With no objections, the motion passed.

III. CPUC Update

Tyrone Chin reported that the CPUC/CD is continuing to finalize the vendor contracts for AT&T and Hamilton for CRS-3. Regarding the equipment processing center, they are continuing to work with CCAF and CSD on the transition, with emphasis on the new customer relationship system. They are also working with the incumbent Marketing vendor and the new Marketing vendor, OneWorld, on the transition. Tyrone stated that the OneWorld contract is currently at DGS for review and expects approval by the end or near the end of the month, with meetings planned shortly after finalization.

Julian Singleton shared concerns about the closure of the Lemoore Call Center negatively impacting the local Deaf Community who were employed there as a result of the new RFP. Tyrone stated that the CPUC could not require vendors to have call centers in California. Kenneth Rothschild shared information about the call centers run by the two new vendors, AT&T and Hamilton Relay, stating that the call centers were mostly located in the Mid-West, but had more than one call center equipped to handle California’s unique terminology and call volumes.

IV. CCAF Staff Reports
A. Consumer Affairs

Dan Carbone shared a report by a quadriplegic customer who had trouble accessing the AT&T Operator-assisted dialing feature from their RC-200. This situation has since been resolved by AT& T. Dan also reported that problems with the C4230 cordless phone continue to be received at the Service Centers, specifically, the Burbank Service Center, and the Call Center of the handset screen going blank and not functioning, despite being fully charged. Ann Ruth moved that upon depletion of its inventory, the C4230 be discontinued from the program due to its faulty nature and unsatisfactory reports from customers and be replaced. Richard Ray seconded the motion and with no objections, the motion passed. Lastly, Dan reported on the increasing response from the Chinese population, who have requested a less complicated speaker phone, telephone manuals in Chinese, and Speech-to-Speech relay services in Chinese.

B. Field Operations Report

Jennifer Minore informed the Committee that the Santa Barbara office opened its doors to customers on March 10, 2010, seeing an increase of customers, and that the Redding office opened on March 11, 2010. Responding the questions from some Committee members, Jennifer stated that the Santa Barbara office is housed in the Independent Living Center and open for 5-6 hours a month. The Redding office is staffed with 2 full-time employees, who primarily work in the field, but open the office to assist customers one time a month. Jennifer added that one of the goals of the 2 offices is to determine the needs of the consumers in the area and expand services. The current contracts of the offices accommodate this goal.

C. Marketing Report

Mary Atkins reported that the DDTP website will be frozen beginning April 1, 2010 as the website management is being transferred to the CPUC. The move to the CPUC will allow for faster and easier modifications to be made. Mary informed the Committee that the Marketing department is furiously working on the various outreach materials needing CPUC approval as a result of the two new CRS vendors, which include web announcements, fliers, vendor information, and CapTel operator disclosure material. CTAP Repair/Exchange Policy posters in multiple languages have been created and are displayed at DDTP headquarters and at each of the Service Centers. Lastly, Mary reported that the new Marketing vendor, OneWorld Communications, will begin their first campaign with the Leeza Gibbons advertisements and the Parade Magazine spots.

D. CRS Report

Margie Cooper stated that AT&T and Hamilton Relay are the new contracted vendors, with Hamilton providing CapTel. She informed the Committee that other than the change of vendors, there are no major changes that would affect CRS. Margie was pleased to mentioned that the new contract has many more requirements for Speech-to-Speech and additional requirements and desirables for Deaf-Blind services and that the department plans to market those new features. One significant feature is an automated system that slows the speed of the text typed by the CRS operator.

E. Customer Contact Report

Karen Lincoln highlighted the effectiveness of the alternate language campaigns by seeing significant increases in the call volumes in Spanish and Chinese languages. CSD has added staff to those language-specific teams to meet the demands. Karen mentioned that another area that has shown an exponential increase.