Canada Offers Nationwide Text with 9-1-1 to Deaf, Speech Impaired Community
Friday, December 02, 2016 | Comments

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and its wireless carrier members, in partnership with public-safety agencies across the country and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities December 3 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 provides Canadian 9-1-1 call centers with the ability to converse via text messaging with a DHHSI person during an emergency. When DHHSI people require 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cellphones. There is no need for a caller to speak or hear, because the 9-1-1 call-taker should 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.

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

"All Canadians should have the same access to safety services across the country," said Carla Qualtrough, minister of sport and persons with disabilities. "This is why I am very pleased to see the launch of nationwide availability of Text with 9-1-1 service for Canada's deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and speech impaired community. This is a great step in breaking down another barrier for persons with disabilities and to improve inclusivity and accessibility in Canada."

T9-1-1 is only available to those in the DHHSI community. A DHHSI person must first register for T9-1-1 with a wireless service provider and must have an eligible cellphone before being able to use this service. All information about T9-1-1, including registration details and areas of service availability, can be found at www.TextWith911.ca.

"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."

Voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not DHHSI. Text messages sent directly to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services in Canada.

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