Wireless Service Providers Support CRTC Decision to Implement Text with 911

by Istvan Fekete on January 25, 2013

The deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired (DHHSI) community will be able to communicate with 911 call centers via text messages, as the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) has announced its full support for the CRTC’s decision to implement Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1).

To enable this unique service, members of the Emergency services, vendors, telecommunications service providers and other stakeholders have joined forces in the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) and Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG). While in beta, the service was tested by volunteers from the DHHSI community last year 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 & 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 uniqueness of this Canadian service is that T9-1-1 allows 9-1-1 call centers to communicate with a deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired person in case of an emergency through the use of text messaging.

When the person requires emergency services, they simply needs to dial 9-1-1 using the cellphone. The call is received by the 9-1-1 call center, and the system will notify the call taker to communicate with text messages with the caller. From that moment on, the call taker can initiate text messaging with the caller and address the emergency.

In order to benefit from the new emergency service specially tailored for the needs of deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired persons, they will need to register their cell phone for the T9-1-1 service with their wireless operator. The only drawback at this stage is that the service will be available in areas that have received the required wireless and 911 network upgrades, information that will be made public at a later date.

For those who are unaware, text messages sent to 9-1-1 won’t reach their recipient, which makes voice call the most effective way to ask for emergency services. Yet the CWTA suggest a similar service is in the works for the public, but its development will gain momentum only after next-generation 9-1-1 systems have been implemented.

Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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