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Police Unveil Text-to-911 Service for Hearing Impaired

Anna Desmarais
Published on: February 17, 2016 | Last Updated: February 17, 2016 1:53 PM EST

Ottawa police announced Wednesday the creation of a text-to-911 service, facilitating 911 contact via cellphone for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Prior to the texting service, conversations would be typed out and sent to emergency responders through landline phones.

Now, when the hearing impaired call 911, responders will begin a texting session with them while being able to hear any noise at the scene.

Police advised in a news release that texting language be “brief and concise.” However, emojis and abbreviations should be avoided.

Myrtle Barrett, president of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, commended the service, saying it took “things one step further to create resources for the hard-hearing community.”

Neil Fine, owner of Hear Fine Audiology, says that the service will be good for the deaf community so long as there aren’t unnecessary lags due to typing messages instead of speaking them.

“The hearing impaired will have better access as long as there is someone responding to the texts quickly,” he said in an interview.

“There’s nothing but good that can come from this.”

The police say that they have been developing this technology over the past year to make emergency responses more accessible to the hearing impaired.

“This is a perfect example of how technology can be used to improve access to emergency services,” Ottawa police Insp. Paul Gallant said in the release.

Reproduced from http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/police-reveal-new-text-to-911-service-for-hearing-impaired