December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and in Canada this day is being marked with national availability of Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) service for Canada’s Deaf, Deafened, Hard of Hearing and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) community.
T9-1-1 service began rolling out in March 2014 and in just over two years the service, which provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse via text messaging with a DHHSI person during an emergency, is now available to vast majority of Canadians.
When a member of the DHHSI community requires 9-1-1 services, they simply dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone without the need for them to speak or hear. The call taker on the other hand will receive an indicator that advises them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 call taker then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.
T9-1-1 is only available to those in the DHHSI community. A DHHSI person must first register for T9-1-1 with their wireless service provider and must have an eligible cell phone before being able to utilize this service. All information about T9-1-1, including registration details and areas of service availability, can be found at www.TextWith911.ca.
The service is currently available province-wide in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan while it is available in many parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. 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.
Please note that voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. Text messages sent directly to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has lent its support to Text with 9-1-1 Awareness Day and is encouraging Canadians to participate in raising awareness of the Text with 9-1-1 service to deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired Canadians in their communities.
The CRTC is currently conducting a proceeding to examine next-generation 9-1-1 services, which could provide all Canadians with the ability to send text messages, photos and videos to 9-1-1 operators. The CRTC will hold a public hearing starting on January 16, 2017, to examine next-generation 9-1-1 services.
MTS, Manitoba’s leading full-service telecommunications provider, has also lent its support to the service and reminds the public about the vital messaging service that is available for the DHHSI community. MTS is promoting its T9-1-1 service that has been pegged as a safety tool by the telecommunications provider.