Canadians Now Have Text With 911 Service Nationwide

Text with 911 Service for Deaf, Hard Of Hearing, and Speech-Impaired Canadians Now Available Nationwide

The Canadian Hearing Society and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) today announced the availability of text with 911 service across the country for the deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech-impaired

The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) joins the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), its wireless carrier members, public safety agencies across the country and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to announce the nationwide availability of the Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) system for people who are Deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired. This announcement comes the same week as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.

"Many people who are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired rely on text messaging as their main form of mobile communication. With Text with 9-1-1, they can now communicate with 9-1-1 operators via text messaging in real-time, making the management of emergency situations easier and less stressful," said Gary Malkowski, Vice-President, Stakeholder & Employer Relations at CHS and member of the CRTC Emergency Services [E9-1-1] Working Group (ESWG).

How T9-1-1 works
Users of this service must register for T9-1-1 with their wireless service provider in order to use the service. Once registered for the service, when a Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. The 9-1-1 dispatcher then receives a notification advising them to communicate with the caller via text messaging.

"This nationwide system provides better access for the Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community. Before T9-1-1, people who are Deaf or hard of hearing had limited options in an emergency, such as asking someone else to call 9-1-1 for them, or using a TTY landline phone or a relay service," added Malkowski.

The service, which began rolling out in March 2014, is now available to most Canadians, including in many parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and province-wide in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Some 9-1-1 call centres are still making the necessary upgrades to their systems and will launch the T9-1-1 service in the coming months.

"Canada's wireless industry is extremely proud of the role its technology continues to play in keeping all Canadians safe," said CWTA Chair Garry Fitzgerald. "I encourage all members of the DHHSI community to register for this unique, made-in-Canada and potentially lifesaving service."

T9-1-1 is only available to Canadians who are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired. Voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not Deaf, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. Text messages sent directly to the digits "9-1-1" do not reach emergency services.

Video Relay Service
Members of Canada's Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community are also encouraged to explore Video Relay Service (VRS) as an alternative method to contact emergency during VRS hours. VRS enables people with hearing or speech disabilities who use sign language to communicate with voice telephone users. The sign language user connects to a VRS operator using Internet-based videoconferencing. The operator then places a voice telephone call to the other party and relays the conversation from sign language to voice and vice-versa. 

Source: CHS release


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