Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program

Equipment Program Advisory Committee (EPAC) 

April 8, 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

Priya Barmanray, CRS Program Analyst

Shelley Bergum, CCAF, Chief Executive Officer

Patsy Emerson, Committee Assistant

Karen Evangelista, Committee Coordinator

Charlotte Harper, Admin & HR Department Manager

John Koste, Telecommunications Equipment Specialist

Angela Shaw, Field Operations Manager for Southern California

Mansha Thapa, Business Analyst

David Weiss, CRS Department Manager


Others Present: 

Kathleen Bieling

Jeri Bokor, Attendant to Loretta Moore

Sook Hee Choi, SSP to Anindya Bhattacharyya

David Hayward, Future Call

Royce Johnson, CSD Call Center Manager

Peggy Rowan, Attendant to Ann Ruth


I.        Administrative Business 


A.      Introductions 


The Committee and audience members introduced themselves.


B.      Agenda Modification and Approval 


          The agenda was approved with modifications for persons who had to leave early.


C.      Review of Minutes from Previous Meeting 


          The Committee approved the minutes without corrections.


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 he got the new iPad and he is quite impressed. In response to questions from the committee, he reported that it uses the most recent software and can instant message, e-mail, sync with other devices, download books, and hold thousands of pictures. There are various apps available through which you can download software to use programs such as Microsoft Word or Excel. In response to questions from Bapin, Brian said that he attended the CSUN Conference and had seen various features for the blind demonstrated at the Apple booth. Bapin offered to bring his Mac Mini to show at the next meeting. The Committee and their constituencies will continue to assess new equipment and technology.


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


CIM Representatives Kelly Lynch, assistant property manager, Bob Woltz, chief engineer, and Derrick Gaskin, director of building security are the persons we are working with on code compliance for people with disabilities. See agenda item IV for notes on their presentation at this meeting.


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 is on hold until June 2010. 


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


Brian Winic recently received and is testing a new device and will report on it next month. He will continue to test devices as they become available.


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


Richard Ray will attend the National Emergency Number Association conference in June which will address SMS, 911, TTY emulation, and SMS to SMS issues. He will update the Committee in June.


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


Loretta Moore has forwarded the project results to Karen E. and Ann Ruth. Ann is planning to present the data to TADDAC to keep them informed of the status of the project.  Loretta spoke of the need to know the number of CTAP customers in both Imperial and San Bernardino counties in order to gauge the impact we have there and to determine what offsite location EPAC wants to discuss.  Angela Shaw was asked to share the information she had gathered regarding the disabled communities in Barstow and Victorville. See the notes for agenda item V.B. for Angela’s full report.


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


Mansha Thapa stated that she e-mailed the two contacts provided her by Apple but has not yet received any response.  She did online research of the iTouch and found it is not capable of receiving cell phone signals. It has features similar to other Apple products which are listed on the website, however we still need an Apple representative to make a presentation and to answer questions about 911 accessibility, so Mansha will continue to work on this.


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


Anindya Bhattacharyya reported that he attended the CSUN conference last month and that he and John Koste met with several different vendors.  They spoke with Gilles Pepin, CEO of Humanware, who said that equipment for the deaf/blind is always the last priority as it is a very small target market. Bapin shared his concerns about the lack of funding for the research and development of blind/deaf devices and that the technology becomes obsolete before it is made available for use. They’re working with old equipment, in particular the Braillenote Apex that is behind in addressing the needs of the deaf/blind community.  Bapin also spoke with Chris Park of GW Micro Company who is developing an idea using Braillesense. The company seems highly motivated in this area and has made a commitment to making it happen within a year, but Bapin is skeptical that they actually will.  Issues of funding are the main roadblock to keeping technology really current.


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


          Loretta Moore stated that she hasn’t had much time to work on this but has been e-mailing with Ann as to what specific information we need for and from the VA. Do we want to just keep the doors of communication open, be involved with a big VA event, find ways to have more impact in the VA community? How do we become one of the hits on their website, what are we already doing to get information out to them, and how can we do a better job of it? Ann stated that our purpose is to make sure that members of the VA are aware of the DDTP, the CTAP program and what we have available. Loretta will continue to work to develop the VA contacts from the last offsite meeting so that we can answer these questions.


Previous Action Item #137: 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. 


Richard Ray reported that he completed this action and submitted it to TADDAC.


Previous Action Item #138: The Committee will determine who will work on the EPAC Annual Report and review the Action List Archive document. 


Ann Ruth offered to work on this report but asked for Ken’s help in writing it. Ken agreed to do the writing and asked about the Action List Archive document. Karen E. stated that she will forward the list that Chenda had compiled in Excel format to Ann, Ken, and Loretta. Items will continue to be added to the archives as the committee closes them out at the meetings. Loretta remarked on the importance of this report as an historical document that tells what we’ve accomplished over time. She will also help Ann and Ken with the project but at a later date.


Previous Action Item #139: Loretta Moore will develop a report for TADDAC of the results from the study of Underserved and Unserved counties of California.


Angela Shaw reported on research and outreach in Barstow and Victorville. Information gathered from a website called Center for Personal Assistance Services said there were 15,000 disabled persons in Barstow and 60,000 in Victorville. In looking at the demographics sampled of Barstow vs. Victorville, Victorville is a larger community and more diverse ethnically and in types of disability. As Barstow is just an easy 30 minutes from Victorville, it seems Victorville would be a better target area for an event. Angela stated that areas with substantial numbers of disabled persons who are distanced from service centers are a good bet because they don’t have the access that people do in more urban areas. Buddy Singleton and Richard Ray were surprised by the statistics and wanted to know the current number of persons being served in both areas and general trends in numbers.  Angela asked to have another look at the numbers as she presented that part of the research a couple months ago and knows the population has changed somewhat since then.  Loretta Moore said that it would be best to pull all this information together to present to the CPUC as justification for an event or visit.  Angela later rechecked her numbers and found 3,000 disabled persons in Barstow and 9,000 in Victorville. Loretta noted that these statistics were drawn from census records and so were at least 5 years old if not 10.


Previous Action Item #140: CCAF will provide information on the San Bernardino population needs gathered from Field staff. 


          This item was addressed in the previous action.


New Action Item: David Weiss will research whether the new CapTel 800 has reverse 911 capabilities.


II.       EPAC Business 


  1.      Report from the Chair 


          Ann Ruth reported that the wireless report was submitted to TADDAC at their last meeting and that Robert Haga had come to the meeting specifically to get an update on the status of the wireless proposal, so it was great timing. He wanted to know more about the trial, how many people are being served, and how well they like it. He’s aware that the Lifeline requirement is a hindrance and said that it was kind of a given that it would be removed. Ann told him that Phase 2 was successful but that a more consistent phone was needed than the Sidekick which became outdated so quickly. The phone also needs to be unbundled. Ann said she didn’t feel that Robert left the meeting with the best information and that we need to write a proposal for Phase 2 like we did for Phase 1, including types of phones, ease of use, replacements, cost, everything.

          Richard Ray expressed his concern that issues take so long to be resolved. He noted that our original focus on the Jitterbug was narrow and limiting and that it is now expanded to cover more accessible hand-held devices for individuals with disabilities. He wants to sit down with Robert Haga and hash out the specifics and not waste any more time. Ann agreed and stated that we need to get a whole new wireless report to Robert quickly so that he can talk with the commissioners. Loretta Moore suggested including testimonials from pilot participants about the difference the devices made in their lives.

          Karen Lincoln remarked that she got the sense that Robert was looking for a document to present to the commissioners that describes what we want the program to look like permanently, so that they draft a resolution and we can move forward and get phones out to those who need them. Sharon Albert noted that the TADDAC board is new and unfamiliar with the specifics being discussed and they need to be educated and informed so that EPAC and TADDAC present a united front that best represents our views.

          Shelley Bergum reported that the last Commission ruling stated that this proceeding (regarding wireless) had to be concluded some time in April and that EPAC’s recommendations to remove the Lifeline requirement and to make wireless a permanent part of DDTP should be given to Robert Haga immediately.  EPAC may already be too late. Richard Ray suggested submitting this to the CPUC for approval as a concept.  Once it is approved EPAC can work on defining, explaining and clarifying all the details.  Shelley said that the Commission is supportive of the idea but needs enough details now to justify it.

          Ann Ruth asked Shelley if we should have TADDAC vote on the report we already have.  Shelley said that TADDAC had the report in their binders at their last meeting and didn’t vote on it. She was surprised that there wasn’t a consensus of TADDAC members on even offering wireless equipment.  Ann also expressed surprise and agreed that everyone needs to be on board with inclusion of wireless in the program. Loretta said EPAC needs to both bring TADDAC up to speed and to work on giving the Commission the information they need. She suggests that she, Ann, Ken, Richard, and Brian all tackle a portion of the report with which they have the most expertise and have it all back to Ann and ready for the joint meeting. Shelley said that CCAF staff is not allowed to draft proposals for TADDAC but they can respond to their questions and can take a look at what they put together.  Karen E. asks committee members to please forward the items they want on the TADDAC meeting agenda to her by April 13th or send directly to Kathleen and copy her and Shelley.


III.       CPUC Update 


          Tyrone Chin reported that DGS approved the CRS contracts for Hamilton and AT&T on 3/29/10 and that CD is working with the new vendors on the transition.  CRS calls will go live on 6/2/10.  Regarding the Equipment Processing Center contract, they are working with CSD on the transition to the new tracking system.  And with the Marketing Contract, approved by DGS 3/9/10, they are working with OneWorld to deliver the first set of marketing campaigns.  In addition, CD is continuing to work with CCAF on pilot design and implementation of Phase II of the Wireless Pilot, distribution of the Jitterbug, and finalizing the program design for SGDs.  Update on the testing of the CapTel 800 was provided by CCAF in another portion of the meeting.


IV. CIM Presentation and Mock Emergency Drill 


CIM Representatives Kelly Lynch, assistant property manager, Bob Woltz, chief engineer, and Derrick Gaskin, director of building security discussed the emergency evacuation procedures for 1333 Broadway and lead the Committee in a mock drill. All meeting participants evacuated the building as instructed and met outside at Jamba Juice. Karen E. had the list of attendees, their team “buddies”, and their emergency contact information and checked that everyone was accounted for. After the drill, the CIM team answered several questions regarding emergency procedures.  In an actual emergency, any persons unable to use the stairway would wait outside the stairwell and be taken down in the elevator by the Fire Department, so the evacuation chair would be used only as a last resort. If the Committee were unable to meet at Jamba Juice, the Fire Department would direct us to another location. Essentially the Department asks that they just be allowed to do the job they are trained to do. They recommended that EPAC start each monthly meeting by reviewing safety and evacuation plans and it was agreed within the committee to make this a regular item on the agenda. Several persons expressed concerns about who to turn to in the case of a real emergency. Karen E. stated that those in charge would be the floor wardens and that they would be wearing orange vests. The floor wardens, building security and engineering staff all attend a yearly training that covers emergency situations and there is protocol in place, so EPAC is in good hands.


V.       CCAF Staff Reports 


A.      Consumer Affairs 


          Karen Lincoln reported on behalf of Dan Carbone and referred to information printed in the meeting binder.  DDTP has been working closely with the manufacturer on equipment revisions and has had conference calls and planned meetings with key leadership and field personnel to get a further understanding of issues being experienced. Karen and Dan will be working this summer on revising the reporting methods in order to get the information needed to create improvements and changes that serve the program community.


B.      Field Operations Report 


          Angela Shaw reported for Jennifer Minore that due to an increase in field advisor visits, they have added field advisor staff in both the Northern and Southern territories and are also adding more languages.  Burbank’s numbers have been consistently high so they are excited to be adding another CSA there. Redding is steady and Santa Barbara is showing some growth. The marketing and the outreach specialists have helped them get their numbers up. Loretta Moore mentioned sending outreach information to disabled students’ services at schools in the area and Angela said they would do that.  


C.      Marketing Report 


          Mary Atkins referred the Committee to printed reports in the binder.  Responding to comments about the Website and the old address still being there, Mary stated that due to the change in hosting, the site will be frozen until June. However, we will be able to get some changes made during this period. The meeting minutes and outreach events will still be posted as well as notice of the CRS transition. AT&T and Hamilton will produce their own vendor-neutral materials and all of the materials will be available at Deaf Nation in Pomona on May 1st. Mary is also working on the ADA celebration on July 26th in Sacramento where DDTP will have a booth.

The CPUC will now be hosting the website and changes will be able to be made much more quickly than in the past. It is Mary’s understanding that the CPUC system will “kick out” things that are not compliant with Section 508.

          Mary was very happy to report that Oneworld Communications is back as our vendor. They are very interested in doing lots of market research, respectfully embracing constituents, and getting the word out about the DDTP to as many people as possible.  Loretta Moore talked about the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, CFLIC, which has compiled a database of low and high tech types of equipment available to support specific kinds of disabilities. Karen E. shared some contact information for the foundation and Mary will follow up to see if DDTP can add our information to their data base.


D.      CRS Report 


          David Weiss reported that the three current CRS providers are doing their best to handle the call traffic throughout the transition to the new vendors on June 2nd.  AT&T was awarded roughly 51% of the 711 and dedicated 800 number traffic and Hamilton about 49% of 711 and DDTP dedicated number traffic. 100% of captioned telephone traffic will go to Hamilton. Both vendors will be doing marketing and outreach at Deaf Nation and both are planning to attend the national conference in Las Vegas.

          Regarding CapTel equipment, we still have some older devices but our stock is dwindling, so it is hoped that TADDAC will move quickly on the recommendation to the CPUC of the new CapTel 800 so we can start distributing them. David reported that the call volume has been steady and stable with some normal seasonal fluctuations around holidays.


E.       Customer Contact Report 


          Karen Lincoln reported that a great deal of work is being done not only with the customer management software but they are starting to put together a knowledge base that outlines all of DDTP’s products, assessment questions, troubleshooting techniques, soft skills, policies and procedures so that all of that information will be consistent and at one’s fingertips regardless of how one interacts with the program. Karen added that DDTP is continuing to get very effective results from marketing resulting in a record high number of new certifications.


F.       Equipment Report 


John Koste informed the Committee that the CapTel 200 will be

discontinued and replaced with the CapTel800.  Results of internal testing showed 96% support for the CapTel 800 as a replacement. 97% of users surveyed, the highest ever seen with any piece of equipment, said the equipment was very easy to set up and use. The font size and color preferences can be modified. Although the device was designed for the hard of hearing, deaf and late deafened, persons with low vision and some hearing loss who qualify would also benefit from this product.  It can also be used as a screen reader and with the Internet and computers.  There are alternate formats available, Braille included, and it also comes in three different sizes. We anticipate 900 plus units will be distributed annually and that number will increase with the push of more marketing from Hamilton Relay.  Richard Ray moved that the 200 be replaced with the 800, Buddy Singleton seconded the motion, and it was approved unanimously.  In response to questions about the 800i, John stated that the 800i is not serviced through the DDTP program and it is still under the control of the FCC.  Loretta asked if the new 800 is 911 reversible and David agreed to research the question as an action item and report back to the Committee.


G.      Wireless Report 


          Mansha Thapa reported that thus far we have distributed 196 Jitterbugs.  In April the DDTP will mail 1100 additional postcards which target the hard of hearing. The California Council for the Blind will include the DDTP in their 800 number phone announcement and it will also be sent to their listserve members. Loretta Moore agreed to try to get feedback on this from any subscribers she knows. Ann Ruth asked whether totals columns could be put at the end of the Wireless Report.  Mansha said that some columns are cumulative and those that aren’t would be simple to total. In response to Loretta’s question about Jitterbugs, Mansha replied that there are an additional 150 phones still left to be distributed. Ann Ruth encouraged anyone going to an event to distribute postcards and Karen L. said to let her know if you need a supply of the cards and she’ll get permission to print them.

          While on the subject of staff reports Ann asked if they could be moved up for today’s meeting to accommodate those leaving early and several members suggested the reports be moved to an earlier time on the agenda permanently to provide more consistency. The Committee agreed to move the reports up on a trial basis for a couple of months at least.


VI.      Lunch Break 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM 


VII.               Public Input 


          There was no public input provided.


VIII.    Future Call Demonstration 


                    David Hayward of Future Call gave a slide presentation about his company and his line of products designed for the elderly, hard of hearing and visually impaired.  Their target has been to provide the best quality product possible with the simplest of use at an attractive price. David showed slides and brought mock ups of a new series of products currently being developed that should be available within the next three to four months. Standard features include talk-back dialing (which can be switched off) and a picture guide for three memory dials. All the models will use rechargeable batteries and all the functions such as the C.I.D. display, memories, emergency message and phone book will be set into the phone for life unless you change them, even without any backup batteries or AC adaptor in the phone.

                    David showed slides of four models. First he showed the S.O.S. phone with a pendant that will dial up to four numbers in sequence. You can answer incoming calls with the pendant or put on the speaker and talk independently. Second he showed the picture phone that can be set up to only dial the pictured numbers. The keys are very big and it is simple to use. It has a parallel dialing feature which can be set to dial numbers on your cordless phone. It comes with volume control, flash, and visual ringing. Kenneth Rothschild had concerns about accidentally dialing 911and David said that, although they had made the 911/SOS key big and red, they could work on repositioning it. They could also put a two-second delay so the button would have to be held down for two seconds. They can also make special key tops or add Braille, but there are no Braille attachments. The third phone David showed was the help phone which is basically a big button key phone. It has a speaker phone, two one-touch memories, and the 911 key can move to any position. The fourth phone was their open GSN cell phone in which they have incorporated features for the hard of hearing and for low vision. It has a talking dialer, angled keys, a simple side switch lock, an S.O.S. button built into the back, a flashlight and a built in FM radio. The S.O.S. key is slightly indented and has a two-second delay. After much discussion about the sequence of calls and the time involved that the S.O.S. call would start, John Koste said that we currently have a phone in the program that goes through a sequence but we do not put 911 in there and do not recommend a 911 unless that’s what the client wants.  David took several suggestions about programming, adding memories, placement of keys, and recharging options and said he would consider these issues. He will also consider making something for the deaf/blind population and asked for ideas and suggestions.


IX.      EPAC Officers Election 


          Richard Ray moved to accept Ann Ruth as the Chair and Kenneth Rothschild as the Vice Chair, Buddy Singleton seconded and Ann and Ken were elected unanimously.


X.       Other Business: Member Reports 


No other business was discussed. 


XI.      Future Meetings and Locations 


          The Joint Meeting on May 14, 2010 to be held at headquarters was discussed briefly earlier in the meeting.



XII.     Suggested Items for Next Month’s Agenda and Review of Action Items 


          This item was not discussed.


The meeting adjourned at 4:00 PM.


These minutes were prepared by Patsy Emerson.