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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




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 




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





Your Pasadena News
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Article Source

San Jacinto College is now implementing a texting service for hearing impaired students and other emergency situations.

“A few years ago, the only way we could communicate to hearing impaired students who needed assistance was by literally writing back and forth on a pad of paper,” said Annette Stewart, San Jacinto College campus police telecommunications coordinator. “Sometimes they’d type out text messages on their phones and pass those back and forth. That gave us an idea to have an emergency texting service available. Now we have a dedicated phone line used for these texts requesting campus police assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Hearing impaired students can text 713-469-1071 to receive emergency assistance.

In addition to the new texting service, all three San Jacinto College campuses have Code Blue emergency phones installed in campus parking lots. These have been available since 1999. In 2012, video surveillance cameras were installed in campus parking lots as well as the district parking lot in order to enhance safety and provide documentation of activity occurring in the public spaces of the College. All San Jacinto College students, faculty, and staff have also been encouraged to save the College’s campus police direct emergency phone number, 281-476-9128, into their personal cell phones for any campus emergency.

This newest addition of an emergency texting line gives hearing impaired students a faster option to communicate with campus police directly from their location rather than having to go directly to their campus station. Once campus police receive the information, they can also notify a campus sign language interpreter to accompany them to the student’s location.

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 . . .

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

Hot News About Text to 911

From FCC Access Services

On January 30, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a policy statement setting forth goals for achieving text-to-911 and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM).   The policy statement highlighted the nation’s four largest wireless telephone providers’ commitment to make text-to-911 available to all their customers nationwide by May 15, 2014.  The FCC encourages other text providers to offer text-to-911 as well and asks for comment on proposals to meet the goals of (1) making sure that people with disabilities have direct access to 911 services and (2) enabling people in situations from which it might be impossible or dangerous to make a voice call (i.e., hostage situation, domestic violence) to make text-to-911 calls.  In his statement at the FCC’s Open Commission Meeting, Chairman Tom Wheeler said it is now up to the 911 call centers, known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), to make themselves ready to accept these texts. 

Jun. 17, 2013

By Toni Dunne, Intrado

We joke about “the old days," when people used tin cans and smoke signals to communicate. We tout how far we have come with technology. We’ve advanced through great technological challenges, such as the move from rotary phones to digital, and from hard-wired handsets to wireless. With each challenge met, we pat ourselves on the back for keeping up with the times.  But have we?

The reality is that there’s a group of people—the deaf and hearing-impaired—who haven’t been able to move forward with the rest of us when it comes to calling 911 during an emergency. Many have rid themselves of old TTYs (also known as TDDs - Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf) in favor of new wireless devices for their personal use. But during an emergency, they are being held hostage to communicate in text via this old technology, which first debuted in 1874 and equipment modified from a teletype machine in 1964.

From 1968, when the first 911 call was made, and for more than 30 years, most agencies did not even have a TTY to provide access for these citizens. It was not until the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and the U.S. Department of Justice mandated all that “telephone emergency communications, including 911, shall provide direct access to people who use TDDs” that we saw equal access with equipment added in the communications centers. Ironically, it seems we have taken one step forward and two steps back.

Deaf friends have told me stories. Richard thought he was having a heart attack and couldn’t text to 911 for help. Instead, he had to get his friend to drive him to the hospital. My girlfriend’s son injured his head, and there was no way to summon help. As a mother, I can only imagine the fear and frustration that she went through during those moments. I’ve heard of other situations, such as when actress Marlee Matlin had to rely on her 4-year-old daughter to interpret, because she could not use her cell phone to text to 911.

With more than 38 million individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing, and with more than 7.5 million individuals with speech disabilities that rely on text for communications, one can only imagine how many more stories are out there. How many have not ended well because of current barriers?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have the technology and capability to do something now—the technology and solutions exist today. We can move forward in a safe, reliable, and expeditious manner.

Implementing text to 911 should not be an option. Let’s not allow our friends and family who happen to be deaf to be left in the lurch again. We can’t afford to wait—this literally is a matter of life and death.

Toni D. Dunne is the external affairs manager at Intrado and has more than 20 years experience working within the public-safety industry. Her prior experience includes work as a PSAP relations specialist and a trainer. Throughout her career, Dunne has been a staunch advocate for equal access to emergency services for individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and/or speech impaired. She has been honored with several national awards, including the NENA President’s Award and the Robert H. Weitbrecht Telecommunications Access Award.


Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC.  This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

Maryland County to Offer 911 Texting for Speaking, Hearing Impaired

From CBS Baltimore 3/22/2013, and Fire Engineering 3/24/2013

Frederick County (MD) is one of the first jurisdictions in the country to offer the option to text 911, reports CBS Baltimore. It’s a standard greeting: “Baltimore City 911. Operator 1232. Where is your emergency?” But what if you can’t hear the question, or say where that fire is burning or where that ambulance is needed?

At Frederick County’s 911 center, they have expanded beyond voice communication. Verizon customers will have the option to text 911.

"It will be just like a chat session people may be familiar with, where both messages will pop up--the message from the caller and then the text we're typing to reply," said Jack Markey, Dir. Frederick County Emergency Management. "And we'll lead them through a series of questions to dispatch the appropriate resources."

Frederick County is an early adopter of this technology for a good reason. It is the home of the main campus of Maryland's School for the Deaf, where many on staff see a real need for texting 911. "And something happens and we can't help. We have to call someone, you know what I mean, we can't call," said Rex Moers, Dean of Students.

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