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Canada Gets Text to 9-1-1 Service

Specialized 9-1-1 text service now available



MARCH 23, 2014

E-Comm, the 9-1-1 answer point serving Metro Vancouver, Sunshine Coast and other parts of southwest B.C. has launched Canada’s first Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) service for members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech impaired (DHHSI) community, in conjunction with its emergency-service partners.

The specialized text messaging system means any DHHSI person in E-Comm’s service area who has pre-registered their cell phone for the service will be able to communicate with police, fire and ambulance call-takers in case of emergency.

“This is an important day for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and those with speech impairments,” said Janice Lyons, head of interpreting services for the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. “To be able to reach this lifeline through a cell phone is a major improvement over current technology we are using.”

In order to access the service, DHHSI callers must:

• Pre-register their cell phones with their wireless carrier

• Dial 9-1-1 like any other caller in order to establish a voice network connection

• Call from a community within E-Comm’s service area.

When E-Comm receives a 9-1-1 call from a DHHSI person who has pre-registered with their wireless carrier and is located in E-Comm’s service area, an alert will trigger at the 9-1-1 centre to indicate there is a DHHSI caller on the line. The 9-1-1 call-taker will then launch the special messaging system, allowing them to communicate with the caller through a special text session. This will ensure they get the emergency service they need.

“E-Comm is proud to have played a part in the development of T9-1-1 and congratulates everyone involved in creating a uniquely Canadian solution,” added Doug Watson, E-Comm’s vice-president of operations. “As the primary 9-1-1 answer point we have been working diligently to test the technology developed by our partners at TELUS, and to train our staff in using it. We are very pleased that it’s now in service and know that other 9-1-1 centres across the country are following suit.”

Members of the DHHSI community should visit to register their cell phones with their wireless service provider and to learn more about how the system works. For more information on E-Comm