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Did you know it’s very difficult for Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing individuals to contact 911 during an out-of-home emergency?
As a friend of the Deaf community, that is one of many barriers the community faces. Few TTY devices are still in use today as the Internet and smartphones have changed the way the Deaf community communicates. Few payphones remain today, let alone those with TTY installed. For parts of Canada, if a Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing individual faces an emergency, they currently need to text or video relay to a hearing individual to contact 911. That is valuable time lost in responding to an emergency.
PSA for Deaf Community
Text-to-911 service was written as part of the Emergency 911 Act. It was passed in spring 2013 and should have completed by mid 2015. The service is was added in Edmonton but it is not available to many other municipalities. It is only available to the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, and those with speech impediments. One must register to use the service. So if not registered, during an actual emergency, there’s no way to contact 911. If you are a part of the Deaf community, register now.
Text-to-911 for Everyone
While Text-to-911 is a benefit the Deaf community, there’s a broader use of the service for everyone. There are emergency situations where calling 911 could place a caller in danger. This includes robberies, threats on transit buses, domestic violence, etc. Text-to-911 would speed response time where emergencies in the past were discovered through mediums like Twitter. To implement this and prevent bots, only people using authorized cell phone providers could be automatically registered to the service and fined for misuse. An automatic registration would guarantee everyone safety should the time come to use Text-to-911 in an emergency.
Text-to-911 in other places
In the US, Text-to-911 service is active to the general public in the states of Maine and Vermont. Several other counties and most of Indiana had it in service one year ago. The tag line for most of the places where it is available is ‘Call if you can, text if you can’t’. By FCC mandate, all wireless carriers must initiate the text-to-911 service where it is available. Users in areas where it is available in the US can use the service without a DHHSI requirement nor the need to register for the service like in Canada. In areas where it is not available, a bounce-back message notifies the user to have someone call 911.
Text to 999 is available in the UK.
Text to 112 is available to any users in the EU who have registered (not need to be DHHSI).
Text relay to 0423 677 767 is available in Australia. The message must first include 000 (the emergency dial number in Australia) to be handled as an emergency.
Keep our communities safe, by moving Text-to-911 technology forward.