Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) Community
E-Comm currently accepts 9-1-1 calls from deaf or hearing/speech impaired callers through TTY (telephone typewriter) units. On January 24, 2014 Canadian wireless carriers and incumbent telephone service providers responsible for the 9-1-1 network implemented the necessary technology infrastructure allowing for the future rollout of Text with 9-1-1 services for members of the DHHSI community. As the 9-1-1 answer point for Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and Squamish Lillooet Regional Districts, E-Comm is anxious to continue to take a leadership role in enhancing emergency communication services for our region and anticipates launching this special messaging service in late spring of 2014.
The TTY System
If a caller uses a TTY, the caller should:
- Stay calm and dial 9-1-1 from their TTY device
- Give the 9-1-1 call-taker a moment to respond (this is important). The 9-1-1 call-taker should answer you by typing "911, Police, Ambulance or Fire GA" (for "Go Ahead".)
- Tell the 9-1-1 call-taker what you need by typing: "police, fire department, or ambulance." Type your name, address and phone number and confirm where help is needed.
- Stay on the telephone/TTY if it is safe to do so. Answer the 9-1-1 call-taker's questions.
If a deaf or hearing/speech impaired caller doesn't have a TTY unit, the caller should dial 9-1-1 from a landline telephone and not hang up. The line will remain open. If you are calling from your home phone or a business telephone (a phone that plugs directly into a telephone outlet in the wall) the caller's address is displayed on the 9-1-1 call-taker's screen. This will allow the 9-1-1 call-taker to send police. Please note that your name and address do not display from cellular phones or a phone that is connected to your computer (known as Internet or VoIP phones).
For more information on TTY visit: deafwellbeing.vch.ca/about.htm
Text with 9-1-1
Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) is a special messaging system that allows members of the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) community to communicate with 9-1-1 services using a wireless-based texting program. Unlike texting directly to 9-1-1, this is a special process that allows texting with 9-1-1 through the initiation of a call over the voice network. Once the voice call to 9-1-1 has been made, the texting process can be initiated.
At this time, the T9-1-1 service is not available in any region of the country. The service will be implemented by 9-1-1 call centres in different municipalities or regions at different time periods over the next several years. Now that the technical infrastructure is in place, E-Comm is working toward implementing the required operational equipment, training and procedures to support the system and anticipates launching the system in late spring 2014.
Q: How will Text with 9-1-1 work?
- Members of the DHHSI community will pre-register cellphones with their wireless provider and dial 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency, just like a regular voice call. Because they are registered, their cellphone will trigger an alert at the 9-1-1 centre and indicate to call-takers that there is a DHHSI caller on the line. 9-1-1 call-takers will then launch the special messaging system that will allow them to communicate with the caller by text.
Q: Does this mean everyone will be able to text with 9-1-1?
- No – this service will only be available to members of the DHHSI community. The 9-1-1 system in Canada is not currently set-up to provide this type of access to emergency services for the public-at large. Voice calling remains the best and most effective way to access 9-1-1 services by a person that is not deaf, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. 9-1-1 call-takers often use tone of voice and background sounds to help provide assistance to a caller, and while texting 9-1-1 for the general public may appear to be the natural next step, it is a massive technical and operational undertaking and one that will not only take time to implement, but also significant coordination.
Visit www.TextWith911.ca for more information about Text with 9-1-1 and to find out when the service becomes available in specific municipalities or regions.