New TTY-equipped call boxes installed on-campus

Cristina Everett

Deaf and hard of hearing students in need of emergency assistance from the CSUN police now have easier access to help following the installation of three new teletypewriter-capable call boxes earlier this month.

The purchase of the three new emergency call boxes was the result of a $17,507 grant from the Grace Petri Endowment Fund for Students with Disabilities.

“The effort was initiated by the (CSUN) Department of Public Safety as a result of the (grant),” said Christina Villalobos, spokesperson for the CSUN Department of Public Safety. “We were a recipient of the grant and went ahead and purchased the three boxes because it was what the grant covered.”

CSUN is one of the first college campuses in the nation to have access to the TTY-capable emergency call boxes, due in part to the university’s large deaf and hard of hearing population.

Dena Zelig, a former special education teacher at Simi Valley Elementary School and graduate student at CSUN, said she recognizes the improvements.

“I feel that CSUN has made a great effort to accommodate the deaf (and hard of hearing) population,” Zelig said. “This is a great breakthrough for CSUN.”

According to Villalobos, the Department of Public Safety worked with members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, as well as the National Center on Deafness, to find the best locations for the three emergency call boxes.

The three boxes can be found north of the Oviatt Library, north of the Matador Bookstore and near the Klotz Student Health Center on the east side of campus.

In the case of another grant being awarded to the Department of Public Safety, additional TTY call boxes will be purchased and installed in other important locations around campus, Villalobos said.

“There should be one installed near the major parking lots and in Building 6 (of the University Park Apartments), where the deaf and hard of hearing students live,” Zelig said. “But I think the three locations they chose are a great start.”

“The Lighthouse” Living Learning Community residence hall is located in University Park Apartment Building 6 and houses dozens of deaf and hard of hearing students.

The three new TTY call boxes resemble the existing blue light emergency phones, except they can be recognized by their yellow color and are equipped with a small keyboard.

The boxes were originally manufactured for use on freeways, and are frequently used in California.

Once the emergency button is pressed, a keyboard appears and allows the caller to type messages directly to CSUN police dispatch. The police dispatcher will then have the option of typing a reply back to the caller or selecting a designated response from the computer system.

Additionally, non-deaf or hard of hearing students can use the TTY call boxes as a standard emergency telephone to contact CSUN police.

CSUN’s population of about 250 deaf and hard of hearing students is one of the largest such populations on any campus in the United States.