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Slow light has been proposed as a potential solution to all-optically tunable delay line. However, a slow-light element may degrade data quality in an optical communication system while decreasing group velocity of optical pulses. In this paper, pattern dependence of signal distortion is identified as a main reason for data degradation, which is caused by narrow-band amplitude and phase responses of the slow-light elements. We define figure of merit involving pulse delay and data degradation to optimize slow-light devices. It is shown that the pattern dependence can be reduced by detuning slow-light devices away from the signal carrier frequency, which allows using narrow-band slow-light techniques to increase normalized delay up to 0.8, with Q improvement of 2 dB.