What You Need to Know about TEXT with 9-1-1

What is Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1)?

T9-1-1 is a service available to you if you are part of the deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) community in Canada.

During an emergency, T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse with you using text messaging.

Before utilizing this service you:

How It Works

T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse with a deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) person during an emergency, using text messaging.

When a DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. There is no need for them to speak, as the 9-1-1 call taker will receive an indicator that tells them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 call taker then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.

A DHHSI person must register for T9-1-1 with their wireless service provider and must have an eligible cell phone before being able to utilize this service. This includes the ability to send and receive text messages.

Information on cell phones that meet T9-1-1 requirements are available on your wireless service provider’s Web site. The sign-up process requires that the applicant has a qualified cell phone.

T9-1-1 is considered a “best efforts” service due to the technology constraints associated with text messaging. As with any text messaging services, there is no guarantee a text message will be sent, delivered or received in a timely manner. In the unlikely event that this happens, the user will need to re-send the message.

Providing location information and the nature of the emergency in the first message is imperative. The 9-1-1 call taker may receive an approximate location of your cell phone with your 9-1-1 call, however it is important for the caller to confirm the exact location of the emergency.

Important Information for T9-1-1 Users

  • Text messages should be brief and concise.
  • Text abbreviations and slang should never be used so that the intent of the dialog can be as clear as possible.
  • If the DHHSI callers are outside or near the edge of the 9-1-1 served territory, the 9-1-1 call may not reach the appropriate 9-1-1 call centre.
  • Cell phones that meet T9-1-1 requirements will be listed on your wireless service provider’s Web site.
  • T9-1-1 should only be used for emergency situations that require a response from police, fire or emergency medical services.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to test the T9-1-1 service. Your wireless service provider can confirm your T9-1-1 registration.

What is Video Relay Service, and how does it relate to T9-1-1?

  • Video Relay Service (VRS) and T9-1-1 are two distinct and unrelated services. T9-1-1 is the most direct method of the two for contacting 9-1-1, 24/7. Contacting 9-1-1 using VRS is only possible during VRS service hours.
  • VRS is a basic telecommunications service that enables deaf or speech impaired Canadians who use sign language to communicate with voice telephone users. The sign language user connects to a VRS operator using an Internet-based videoconferencing app. The operator then places a voice telephone call to the other party and relays the conversation from sign language to voice and vice-versa.
  • A VRS user will be able to enter the digits 9-1-1 in their VRS app to contact emergency services, but only during VRS service hours. T9-1-1 can be used as an alternative method to contact 9-1-1 at any time. Emergency calls using the VRS app will be placed first in line for a VRS operator. The VRS operator and emergency answering personnel will attempt to confirm that the customer is at their registered address, or if not there, where they are. Please be aware that there may be some delay involved in this process. Once the location and nature of the emergency are determined, the local emergency answering centre in your area dispatches the appropriate fire, police or medical responders. The VRS operator stays with the caller and assists the emergency services personnel as long as they are needed.
  • For more information about VRS, visit www.srvcanadavrs.ca.