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Section 504 Goes Into Effect (1977 – 1983)

(1977) Certain provisions of the Education of All Handi­capped Children Act go into effect. Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are signed, which lists reasonable accommodations including TTY access. Members of Congress as well as state and local elected officials install TTY’s in their offices for their constituents. NCLD files comments with US General Services Admin­istration (GSA) on TTY’s in public facilities and petitions FCC for Rulemaking regarding Telecommunications Services and Charges for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Citi­zens, leading to a yearlong inquiry. California mandates that disability population receive full and equal access to telephone facilities.

(1978) Rehabilitation Act of 1973 amended to establish comprehensive vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs. The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (US Access Board) begins to eliminate communication barriers as part of their mission. The U.S. General Accounting Office issues report recommending a study into the effective ways for deaf and hard of hearing citizens to communicate with the government, and raises concerns about the ASCII/Baudot incompatibility. CSD begins local 24/7 relay ser­vice in Sioux Falls, SD. California & Michigan pass laws for TTY leasing.

(1979) Self-Help for the Hard of Hearing (SHHH) founded. Prototype for the single channel cochlear implant developed.

(1980) FCC makes second computer inquiry into the needs of deaf and hard of hearing consumers and approves AT&T’s request to lower long distance rates for TTY users. Twelve states allow reduced rates for intra-state long distance TTY calls. California begins free TTY distri­bution program for deaf residents. National Association of the Deaf (NAD) celebrates 100 years. Deaf actress, Phyllis Frelich wins Tony for role in Children of a Lesser God play.

(1981) The United Nations designates the year as International Year of Disabled People. More than 30 states allow reduced rates for intra-state long distance TTY calls. President Ronald Reagan appoints H. Latham Breunig for the National Council on the Handi­capped, which created the National Policy on Disabled Persons, a forerunner of the ADA.

(1982) The United States designates the year as National Year of Disabled Persons. Telecom­munications Act passed by Congress mandating that the FCC considers how to assure reasonable access to telephone service by people with disabilities. Ron Mace starts Universal Design movement.

(1983) AT&T petitions state commissions to remove tariffs on special telephone equipment for deaf and hard of hearing users. Canada gives $600 vouchers to deaf and hard of hearing to purchase TTY’s.