Hearing- and speech-impaired residents of the Alberni Valley will soon be able to text with 911 operators.
The decision follows a January 2013 announcement by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) about “enhancements to 911 services that will enable Canadians who have hearing or speech impairments to communicate with 911 call centres via text message.”
In the decision, the CRTC stated that carriers were supposed to have implemented the changes by Jan. 24, 2014. However, changes have rolled out region by region across the country and have just been implemented in the Alberni-Clayquot Regional District.
The CRTC decision does not mean that individuals can simply text 911—instead, individuals must first register for the service with their wireless carrier and then when the need arises, call 911. Call centre operators will automatically detect the text 911 enabled phone and begin a text conversation.
The voice call must be kept on in the background in order to not disconnect from the conversation and 911 operators will be able to pick up background noise from the phone’s location.