Emergency T911 for Deaf to Roll Out Unevenly in Canada

by Istvan Fekete on December 30, 2013

Deaf Canadians will be able to use text for 911 emergency services as soon as next year, but the rollout will happen unevenly: in some areas, they will have to wait until late 2015. This is “unacceptable” and a matter or life and death, advocates say.

In fact, there are a couple of roadblocks the text to 911 service rollout faces: first of all, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission has set a January 24 deadline for all telephone and wireless companies across the country to support the T911 service. The reports are in, and it seems like everything is on track for the deadline.

The major issue seems to be that call centres across Canada also need to upgrade their systems for compatibility with the networks: this seems to be holding back the national rollout, as municipalities and provinces have contacted the federal regulator informing the CRTC the call centres need more time to complete upgrades and training.

And the CRTC is powerless in this case: while it can regulate telephone and wireless carriers, it cannot do so with 911 call centres. As a result, we will witness an uneven rollout of the T911 service: times could differ from province to province and even within provinces.

According to the latest information sent in to the CRTC, the service will be active in all call centres in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island by early to mid-2014, and by the end of next year in Saskatchewan.

British Columbia, Alberta, and New Brunswick, however, will have to wait until early 2015; the service will be ready in the second half of 2015 in Ontario.
When the system is ready, it will allow a deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-challenged individual to dial 911 on their cellphone, and the call centre will automatically get a notification telling staff to communicate with the caller through text messaging.

When and where service will be available in Canada Estimates for when text-911 service will be available at all call centres in each province: British Columbia: early 2015 Alberta: early 2015 Saskatchewan: late 2014 Manitoba: March 2014 Ontario: September 2015 Quebec: Late 2014 New Brunswick: early 2015 Nova Scotia: mid 2014 P.E.I.: early 2014 Note: some call centres may be ready ahead of the estimates shown.

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

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