Happy 31st birthday, Americans with Disability Act (ADA)!

National Disability Independence Day is today, July 26. It recognizes the anniversary of the ADA, which was passed in 1990. Did you know that when it came to telecommunications for those with a disability in hearing, vision, speech, mobility or cognition, Oregon was ahead of the nation when it came to recognizing rights?

It’s true. Four years prior, in 1987, the Oregon Legislature passed a law that all Oregonians have access to adequate and affordable telephone service. The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) established three programs as a result: Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP), the Oregon Relay (better known as 711) and The Oregon Lifeline.

The TDAP and 711 programs are exclusive to those with disabilities. All of the programs are funded by a surcharge, currently $0.14, which is applied to the monthly bill of any Oregonian with a telephone, cellular phone, or interconnected voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service with access to Oregon Relay (711).

Odds are, if you are reading this, you have a phone of some sort. You may even be reading this on your phone. Your $0.14 pays for these programs! Here is a bit of information you may not know about what your money is funding.

captioned phoneThe Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP)

TDAP is a program that loans specialized communications equipment at no cost and with no income guidelines to eligible Oregon residents who have a disability in:

  • hearing
  • ·vision
  • speech
  • mobility, or
  • cognition

“Specialized communications equipment” are devices designed to support the needs of a person with a particular disability. Examples include corded or cordless amplified phones, captioned phones, big button phones, speakerphones, electrolarynxes, cell phones, tablets, speech generating devices, and more.

State law limits one device per applicant, although two devices may be provided if there is more than one eligible person in a given household.

For more information: Telecommunication Devices Access Program (TDAP)  

Oregon Relay (711)

Oregon Relay is a free service that provides full telephone accessibility to people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, and speech-disabled. This service allows text-telephone (TTY) users to communicate with standard telephone users through specially trained relay operators.

A picture containing text, person, office, posing Description automatically generatedCalls can be made anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no restrictions on the number, length, or type of calls. All calls are strictly confidential and no records of any conversations are maintained.

Anyone who wishes to use Oregon Relay simply dials the toll-free relay number to connect with a relay operator. The relay operator will dial the requested number and relay the conversation between the two callers.

A neat feature about Oregon Relay is 711. It is an easy number to remember for dialing relay services.

Oregon Relay service, provided by Oregon telephone companies through a contract with Sprint, is used to assist communications between people who use text telephones (TTYs) and people who use voice telephones. Specially trained operators facilitate communications between the two callers. Each call is handled in strict confidence.

For more information: Oregon Relay (711)

Oregon Lifeline, Tribal Lifeline and Tribal Link Up:

Oregon Lifeline Is a federal and state government program that provides a monthly discount on phone or broadband service for qualifying low-income Oregon households.

  • Receive a discount on your phone bill of up to $12.25 per month;
  • Receive a discount on your broadband bill of up to $16.25 per month; or
  • Receive free cell phone and data service

Tribal Lifeline: Oregon residents on federally recognized Tribal lands may qualify for an additional $25 discount per month.

Tribal Link Up: Provides qualifying Tribal residents with a one-time discount of up to $100 on the initial installation or activation of wireline or wireless phone service. It also allows residents to pay the remaining amount they owe on a deferred schedule, interest free.

Qualifying Tribal residents may be eligible for Link Up again only after moving to a new primary residence. Not all wireline or wireless phone companies offer Tribal Link Up.

Discount amounts are subject to change. Federal and state regulations limit the Lifeline benefit to one person per household for phone or broadband service.

For more information: Oregon Lifeline, Tribal Lifeline and Tribal Link Up

For more information: Americans with Disability Act (ADA)