Text with 9-1-1 launched for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired individuals
Starting today, Deaf, hard of hearing, and speech impaired (DHHSI) citizens will have a new way to connect with 9-1-1 services in the Calgary region. Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) means DHHSI citizens can now converse with a 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Officer (ECO) through text messaging in order to get the emergency help they need.
Previously, the only way for these individuals to communicate with 9-1-1 was through a Teletypewriter (TTY) system, which was brought into use in the 1960’s.
“We are very pleased to be able to launch the Text with 9-1-1 service for the Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community. We recognize they’ve relied on the outdated TTY system for far too long and we thank them for their patience as we’ve worked to roll this out,” said Kay Choi, Public Safety Communications (PSC) Deputy Commander.
The City of Calgary’s PSC is the second 9-1-1 centre in Canada and the first in Alberta to offer T9-1-1 specifically for the DHHSI community.
“Deaf and Hear Alberta is very excited that the Text with 9-1-1 service is now a reality for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing,” said Executive Director Mona Hennenfent. “Having Text with 9-1-1 can literally make a difference between life and death - particularly for vulnerable seniors and those who live alone. We are so appreciative that The City of Calgary has made this initiative a priority, becoming one of the first major cities in Canada able to accept emergency calls via text.”
The launch of T9-1-1 in Calgary comes following a January 2013 directive issued to all wireless service providers from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC established that all service providers must implement the necessary infrastructure making it possible for the DHHSI population to text message with 9-1-1 by no later than January 24, 2014. Once the work to implement that infrastructure was complete, 9-1-1 centres began work to complete the necessary changes to their respective systems.
“Calgary 9-1-1’s unyielding commitment to the safety, health and well-being of all citizens is exemplified by the launch of Text with 9-1-1 service for the Deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired community,” said Andrea Goertz, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer with TELUS. “TELUS worked closely with Calgary PSC to help them implement this sophisticated technology and we are proud they are the first in Alberta to provide it for the DHHSI community of Calgary and the surrounding area.”
DHHSI individuals will be required to register nationally with their wireless service provider in order to access the T9-1-1 service. While T9-1-1 is not yet available across Canada, national registration allows those DHHSI individuals to use the service in regions which have implemented the service.
T9-1-1 is not available at this time for members of the general public. Voice calling remains the best and most effective way to access 9-1-1 services by a person who is not deaf, hard of hearing or with speech impairment.
Members of the DHHSI community are encouraged to visit www.textwith911.ca to learn more about T9-1-1, including information about how to register with their service provider. The website will also offer information about when T9-1-1 becomes available in other regions in Canada.
Deaf and Hear Alberta will be offering assistance in registering for T9-1-1 to DHHSI individuals this evening and tomorrow evening from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information on these sessions contact the organization at 403-284-6200 (phone), firstname.lastname@example.org (email) or 403-284-6205 (Text/TTY).
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NOTE: See attached video "Text with 911 2014-0813"