Canada Moves Forward with Unique Text to 9-1-1 Service (1/24/13)
Thursday, January 24, 2013 | Comments

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced it will move forward with the implementation of text to 9-1-1 for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired (DHHSI) community.

Text to 9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centers with the ability to converse with a deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired 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. There is no need for them to speak, because the 9-1-1 call-taker will receive an indicator that tells 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 CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG) developed the unique Canadian solution. The ESWG is composed of members from emergency services, telecommunications service providers, vendors and other stakeholders, including the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA). The text to 9-1-1 service was trialed with volunteers from the DHHSI community in the first half of 2012 in Vancouver, Toronto, Peel Region and Montreal.

“CWTA and its members applaud all parties involved for their dedication to improving safety for Canada’s DHHSI community,” said CWTA President and CEO Bernard Lord. “Wireless service providers are always looking for ways to improve accessibility for Canadian consumers, and we look forward to continuing our partnerships with community, government and other stakeholders in deploying this revolutionary safety tool.”

The service will only be available to those in the DHHSI community who register their cell phones for the service through their wireless carrier and in areas that have received the necessary wireless and 9-1-1 network upgrades. Availability of the service will be announced at a later date.

Voice calling remains the best and most effective way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person who is not deaf, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. Text messages sent to the digits 9-1-1 don’t reach emergency services. Canadian text with 9-1-1 for the public will be deployed after next generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) systems have been implemented, a CWTA statement said.

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