Baltimore (July 14, 2020) -
Telecommunications Access of Maryland (TAM), the State agency that provides equipment and services for Marylanders who have difficulty using a telephone, announced today that it is now legally and operationally an agency of the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDoD), after 12 years under the administration of the Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT).
The change became effective July 1, 2020, as mandated by Maryland Senate Bill 851, which was passed by both chambers of the Maryland legislature earlier this year and became law on May 7, 2020.
The move to MDoD places TAM and its programs within a larger constituent-based infrastructure and network that coordinates and improves accessibility for individuals throughout the State of Maryland. TAM will now have more resources to connect with the people it serves, including those in Maryland who are Deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, DeafBlind, or have cognitive, mobility or speech difficulty.
Established in 1988, TAM administrates both Maryland Relay, the free public service that allows people who are unable to use a standard telephone to make and receive calls; and the Maryland Accessible Telecommunications (MAT) program, which distributes State-provided assistive telecommunications equipment to qualified applicants. Maryland Relay was initiated by TAM in 1991 after the signing of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which required all states to provide telecommunications relay service (TRS) to ensure equal telephone access for citizens who were Deaf, hard of hearing, or who have difficulty speaking.
Moving TAM to the Maryland Department of Disabilities made great sense for both our staff and the people we serve, as our agencies share in our mission to ensure all Marylanders have equal access to the telephone," said David Bahar, director, Telecommunications Access of Maryland.
TAM is still very much committed to our core Maryland Relay and MAT programs, and we will now have additional resources to reach even more individuals and families who would benefit from access to our programs. We are excited to join the MDoD team."
MDOD and TAM have a shared vision of promoting equality of opportunity, access, and choice for Marylanders with disabilities," said Carol Beatty, Maryland Secretary of Disabilities.
We look forward to working
with Director Bahar and his team to help build on TAM's history of excellent outreach and service."