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Text-to-9-1-1

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Text-to-9-1-1 provides the ability to send a text message to reach 9-1-1 emergency services from your mobile phone or device. This wireless service connects a deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, and/or speech impaired individual (DHHSI) to emergency services in Canada.

Text with 9-1-1, or T9-1-1 as it is commonly called, provides 9-1-1 centres with the ability to converse with a DHHSI person during an emergency, using text messaging. When a DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will receive an indicator from registered users that tells them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 dispatcher then initiates a text message conversation with the DHHSI caller to address the emergency.

Currently, the T9-1-1 service is only available in Alberta (City of Calgary), British Columbia (Metro Vancouver, Squamish Lillooet, and Sunshine Coast Regions), and Ontario (Toronto, Windsor, Peel Region, Thunder Bay, and York Region). 9-1-1 call centres in different municipalities or regions will implement the service at different time periods over the next several years as wireless carriers and call centres complete the required network and technological upgrades. DHHSI citizens can check Textwith911.ca to see which areas or regions currently have this service.

Those who wish to register for this service must do so through their registered provider. Members of the DHHSI community across Canada can register for this service, even if it is not currently available in their community. National registration means that all registered users who need the service can utilize it whenever they are in a specific region that has deployed T9-1-1.

It is important for DHHSI persons to register to ensure that the service is compatible with their devices. Some devices are not able to make a voice call and send and receive text messages simultaneously, so it is important to confirm this when registering for the service. Links to wireless service providers are also available at Textwith911.ca .

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) advises consumers that “even in areas where PSAPs accept text-to-9-1-1, it is a complement to, not a substitute for, existing voice-based 9-1-1 service, so consumers should make a voice call to contact 9-1-1 during an emergency when possible”.

Additional information can also be obtained at http://www.fcc.gov/text-to-911.

Raeanne Rowswell, MSc, R.Aud, Aud(C)
Registered Audiologist

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