NEWS RELEASE: Specialized 9-1-1 text service for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech Impaired launched in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver, B.C.— E-Comm—the 9-1-1 answer point serving Metro Vancouver and other parts of southwest British Columbia—today 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 cellphone 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 cellphone is a major improvement over current technology we are using.”

In order to access the service, DHHSI callers must:

  • Pre-register their cellphones 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,” says 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.”

It is important to emphasize that this service is only available to the DHHSI community. Voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person who is not Deaf, Deafened, Hard- of-Hearing or Speech Impaired. Text messages sent directly to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services anywhere in Canada. Text with 9-1-1 for the public-at-large is anticipated in the future as the nationwide 9-1-1 infrastructure evolves.

“TELUS worked closely with E-Comm to help them implement this technically challenging and sophisticated solution, together creating an effective way for the DHHSI community to connect with emergency services when they need help,” said Chris Langdon, vice-president, TELUS Consumer Products and Services . “This new service has the potential to save lives and we commend E-Comm for their great work ensuring DHHSI residents of communities where E-Comm provides service are the first people in Canada to benefit from Text with 9-1-1.”

The T9-1-1 service is a joint effort of Canada’s telecommunications services providers, representatives of emergency services from across the country, and leaders in the DHHSI community, who worked together as part of a special CRTC committee.

T9-1-1 will be available at different times across the country as each public service answer point (PSAP) will implement the service separately.

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


Locations where T9-1-1 will be available to the Deaf, Deaf-Blind, Hard-of-Hearing and Speech Impaired:

Metro Vancouver – Anmore, Belcarra, Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Electoral Area A (University of BC, University Endowment Lands, Barnston Island), Howe Sound Communities (Ocean Point, Strachan Point, Montizambert Wynd, Bowyer Island and Passage Island), Indian Arm/Pitt Lake Communities (Boulder Island, Carraholly Point, Northern Portion of Indian Arm and West side of Pitt Lake), Langley (City and Township),  Lions Bay, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver (District and City), Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver and White Rock.

Squamish Lillooet Regional District South – Electoral Area C (Pemberton Meadows, Mt. Currie, D’Arcy Corridor, Whistler-Pemberton Corridor), Electoral Area D (Furry Creek, Brittania, Porteau, Upper Squamish, Upper Cheakamus, Ring Creek, Pinecrest/Black Tusk Village), Pemberton, Squamish and Whistler.

Sunshine Coast Regional District – Egmont, Elphinstone, Gibsons, Halfmoon Bay, Pender Harbour, Roberts Creek, Sechelt, West Howe Sound.

Media Contacts:

For 9-1-1 related questions contact:
Jody Robertson
E-Comm 9-1-1
[email protected]

For questions related to the technology contact:
Liz Sauvé
TELUS Media Relations
[email protected]

For questions related to the DHHSI community contact:
Janice Lyons
Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
604-614-7458 text or sms ONLY
[email protected]

For questions about registration and public education:
Ashlee Smith
Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association
613-233-4888 ext. 227
[email protected]