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Jun 14, 2016 2:59 AM EDT

In Orange County, Fla. -- and in every 911 call center throughout Arizona -- people cannot send text messages to dispatchers. However, a lawsuit filed in Arizona federal court is demanding that the state adopt the new technology.

The lawsuit, filed by the National Association of the Deaf and the Arizona Center for Disability Law, claims the state’s current 911 system is discriminatory.

“What we're claiming is that people with disabilities are not provided equal access to 911, which is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehab Act,” said attorney Asim Dietrich.

Read more  . .  Watch Video . . . text-to-911




Channel 11, Atlanta,GA
By Jon Shirek, WXIA
January 7, 2016

ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- A text for help – from a deaf woman who spotted two small children in a car – highlights a local 911 center that is among the first utilizing a popular technology.

On Wednesday night, she shared her story – through the same technology – with 11Alive News.

Her name is Lisa Collis, and she texted that it was at about 4:30 pm on New Year’s Eve, in a parking lot in the North Point area of Alpharetta, when she saw two, small children alone in a parked car.

Luckily for all, since Collis is deaf and this is Alpharetta, she was able to report what she saw by texting 911.

Read more . . . See captioned video - 911 Story





By Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content
September 25, 2015

Sprint now owes the FCC a hefty chunk of change following the agency’s decision to hit it with a $1.2 million fine. The FCC announced today that it has fined Sprint because the big yellow carrier messed up 911 calls for hearing-impaired citizens for a six-month period.

From March 28 through September 18 of 2014, Sprint customers using the Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) were unable to make calls to 911. If they tried using the service, which provides a sort of closed captioning to . . .

Read More  . . . Sprint


September 22, 2015

Fairfax County’s Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC) now accepts text messages to 9-1-1 for reporting police/fire/medical emergencies.

See TEXT-TO-911_Post Card

Was publicly announced at the Board of Supervisors meeting. - September 22

(The following is the text from the DPSC Post Card)

Fairfax County Emergency 9-1-1


Text to 9-1-1 is intended primarily for use in 3 Emergency Scenarios:

  1. For individual who is deaf, hard-of-hearing or has a speech disability.
  2. For someone who is in a situation where it is not safe to place a voice call to 9-1-1.
  3. Medical emergency the renders the person incapable of speaking.
Only Text 9-1-1 In An Emergency (English Only)


How do I text to 9-1-1?

  • Enter the numbers “911” in the “TO” or “RECIPIENT” field.
  • The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include location of the emergency, ask for police, fire or ambulance.
  • Push the “SEND” button
  • Answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.
  • Text in simple words. NO abbreviations or Slang.
  • Keep text messages short.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Text to 9-1-1 is not available if you are in a roaming situation.
  • A text or data plan is required to place a text to 9-1-1. Standard text messaging rates apply.
  • Photos and Videos CANNOT be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.
  • Text to 9-1-1 CANNOT include more than one person. Do not copy your emergency text to anyone other than 9-1-1. Wait until you are safe to notify others of your situation.
  • Prank-texters can be identified and possibly prosecuted according to local laws/regulations.
  • Text to 9-1-1 is available in Fairfax County beginning Tuesday September 22, 2015

More information can be found at:

(END of the DPSC Post Card Text)

Guidelines for  TEXTING  to 9-1-1

  • Stay calm - dispatchers can't help you if they can't understand you. Take a deep breath and think before you text. TEXT slowly and clearly. The first text to 9-1-1 should be short, include location of the emergency, ask for police, fire or ambulance.
  • Know your location and text the dispatcher the exact address (apartment/suite number, intersection, interstate mile markers) where the help is needed.
  • Answer all questions. The call taker will have questions for you and may even ask you to do something to help. It is important that you answer the questions as best as you can. DO NOT STOP TEXTING  unless you are in danger or the dispatcher tells you to do so.
  • TEXT the nature of the emergency. Stay on the line to answer further questions the dispatcher may have.
  • Send someone to meet the emergency equipment if at all possible. It's hard to find an address on a dimly lit street in the middle of the night.
  • If you Text  9-1-1 even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.  If you call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that there is no emergency, so the call taker doesn't have to waste time sending police trying locate you.
  • Prevent prank Text to 9-1-1.  Prank-Texters  not only waste time; they are illegal in most states and endanger public safety.  If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need.  Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.


TEXT to 911 - Coverage Map as of September 22,2015 



Direct Video Communication: Access for People who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech Disabled in an IP World

by: Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman
April 14, 2015 - 02:27 PM

A few months ago, I received a note from a woman in New Mexico, recounting her recent experience in making a 911 call. She had fallen in her home, alone, badly hurt and bleeding.  She dialed 911, reached an emergency center, an ambulance was dispatched and she was taken to a medical facility.

You might be wondering why someone would write to the Chairman of the FCC about a 911 call. The reason is that this was an emergency for someone who is deaf and the call was made through Video Relay Service (VRS), a program administered by the FCC. The woman had never before had a reason to make an emergency call and, when she made the call, she wondered whether the technology would work.

Most of us take for granted that when we make a phone call, the call goes through. You call from any type of device to any phone number. You don’t think about how the call travels – via circuit or packet, time division or code division, copper or fiber, 1.9 GHz or 700 MHz Networks are interconnected. Telecommunications software is increasingly interoperable.

Now, imagine that you hear with your eyes. You contact friends and family by video calling and your native language is American Sign Language (ASL).  And when you call a hearing person who does not speak your language, the call is automatically routed over the Internet through a VRS sign language interpreter who conveys what you want to communicate to the hearing person.  The VRS interpreter voices everything you sign to the hearing person and signs back everything that the hearing person says.

Read more  . . .Direct Video Communication



The Tribune
The Associated Press
February 22, 2015

 — All but four of Indiana's 92 counties have signed on a system that allows phone users to send a text to 911 when they need emergency help, putting the state at the forefront of a technology that's slowly making its way across the country.

Only Vermont and Maine have all counties accepting text messages to 911, the Palladium-Item reported ( ). Fifteen other states have a few counties each that participate in the "Text to 911" system.

"It will eventually make it across the nation," said Matthew Cain, deputy director of Wayne County Emergency Communications, which volunteered to be one of five pilot counties to explore the texting option. "It's mainly geared toward the deaf community and the hard-of-hearing community, but it also benefits others when it's unsafe to call."

A federal order required all wireless carriers and text-messaging providers to allow users to send texts to local 911 dispatchers by the end of 2014.

In Indiana, only Lake, Jasper, Marion and Ripley counties have not accepted the system.

Cain said calling is still the best option for contacting 911 because communication is quicker between the dispatcher and the caller. But text messages are useful when a person has a hearing or speech impairment or when it's unsafe for a person to speak, such as in cases of an abduction or domestic situation.
By Melonie Flomer

January 05. 2015

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County 911 now has the ability to receive text-to-911 messages through the four major wireless carriers — AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

Donna Wright, director of Richmond County Emergency Services, said the elements have been in place for text-to-911 enhancement since May 20, when her department had all its requests for public safety answering points ready for when the carriers begin testing in July.

At that time, the service was active only in Durham County and its sole provider was Verizon. The Federal Communications Commission required that all wireless carriers provide the capability by Dec. 31.

“The text works just like a wireless call and will provide us with the latitude and longitude of the origin of the text,” Wright told the Daily Journal last summer. “From there, we can use the device’s GPS to triangulate that location. Even if the person is moving or being moved, we can see it. And it works regardless of how a person has their device’s GPS settings configured. We can still see it.”

Read More . . .




Global News
By David Shum
Web Producer

TORONTO – Toronto police, along with emergency services partners, have announced the “T9-1-1″ texting service is now available in the City of Toronto.

T9-1-1 is a service that allows members of the public with hearing and speech impairments to call 9-1-1 during an emergency and interact with a 9-1-1 call-taker by text message.

Police say members of the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired (DHHSI) community must register with their wireless service provider to be eligible to use this service.

A special application allows the 9-1-1 call-taker to recognize the call as coming from a registered cell phone associated with a DHHSI member.

Police also want to remind people that they can only access 9-1-1 services from their registered cell phone and only in parts of Canada where the service has been deployed.

Watch Video





Lincoln Journal Star
November 08, 2014

LINCOLN, Nebraska — He always thought they were saying "lots of love." It turns out, all those people who text messaged "LOL" to Mark Conroy were just laughing at him.

Conroy's confusion about the acronym for "laugh out loud" is among a whole list of concerns he'll need to address come December, when people in the Omaha and Kearney areas will be able to start texting 911 to report emergencies, the Lincoln Journal Star ( ) reported.

Text-to-911 service should go live around Omaha on Dec. 15, says Conroy, director of Douglas County's 911 center. In Buffalo County, Sheriff Neil Miller expects the Kearney area's system to be ready soon after.

Lincoln will have to wait.

"We don't want your text message," said Tom Casady, the city's public safety director. "We can't handle it."

Lincoln and more than a dozen counties in Southeast Nebraska are in the process of replacing their individual 911 systems with a single hub that would route callers to their local 911 centers. The switch will take time and could initially cost upward of $1 million to $2 million, although it is intended to save money in the long run.

And while the new equipment should make enabling text-to-911 easier for Lincoln and its neighbors, Casady says he's in no rush to adopt technology that is "not quite ready for primetime yet."

Read More  . . .



By Mary Pickels 

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 12:06 a.m.

Two hearing-impaired kayakers on the Conemaugh River were too exhausted to make the return trip to their vehicle Monday evening, and turned to social media for assistance with contacting 911.

Terry Shepherd, first assistant chief with Blairsville Volunteer Fire Department, said the two men set out from the Market Street boat launch in the Indiana County borough in separate kayaks.

Read more:
05/19/2014 05:01 PM
Original Article

FREDERICK, Md. - Frederick County, Maryland is the sixth county in the country to implement 911 texting through Verizon, according to local emergency officials. They say they pushed to become one of the first last year and now the four major wireless carriers in the Country made the feature available.

“The Maryland School for the Deaf is located in Fredrick. We have a large population of deaf and hearing impaired so we've felt everyone needs access to 911, so we've been very proactive and been pushing to be a leader in texting 911 to allow everyone that direct access to 911,” said Chip Jewell, director of Frederick County emergency communications.

The Federal Communications Commission said they hope to expand the program once it’s been tested in places like Frederick County. Chip Jewell said he believes the texting systems should be available on all four major wireless carriers by the end of next year.

Read more . . .



Starting on Thursday, people in select locations across the country can text 9-1-1 with emergencies if they are unable to call them in.

The Federal Communications Commission is rolling out the service to make it easier to contact 9-1-1 for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, have a speech disability or are in a situation in which making a call could be dangerous. The FCC's website states that making a phone call is still the best option when possible, because it allows the person calling in to relay information more quickly. First responders can also triangulate the caller's location with a phone call, something that can't be done via text.

To that point, the FCC asks that anyone texting 9-1-1 provide information about the situation and his or her exact location. The providers supporting the service include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

The initial rollout [PDF] includes areas of Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Though only people living in certain parts of those states can text 9-1-1 starting on Thursday, the FCC says anyone with a cellphone and enough service will be able to do so by the end of 2014.

Anyone who texts 9-1-1 in an area where emergency call centers do not yet support texts will receive a bounce-back message, informing them the text has not been sent and they should try to call instead.

Call centers are still updating their systems to be compatible with texts. According to the FCC's site, anyone who wants to know whether their area has adopted the new technology can call their cellphone providers.

Text-to-9111: What is Your Emergency?

April WOW Policy Point

CTIA (The Wireless Association) is an international nonprofit association that has represented the wireless communications industry since 1984.

Over the past decade, texting has become an integral part of how we communicate with friends and family, but it also plays a vital role in emergencies, especially for those with disabilities. Learn about the development and adoption of text-to-911 service, and what it means for consumers by watching captioned video