The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced a three-month trial that will allow 911 call centres to communicate with pre-registered participants with hearing and speech impairments by text message.
“This text messaging trial is one of several initiatives that the CRTC is exploring to improve the accessibility of communications services for the hearing and speech impaired,” said Leonard Katz, the CRTC’s Acting Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Telecommunications. “This trial will give us the technical and operational information we need before making a final decision on whether to expand the program nationwide.”
The trial will involve participants in Vancouver, Toronto, Peel Region and Montreal, and is expected to begin shortly. During the trial, pre-registered participants will make test 911 calls. The 911 call centres, participating in the trial, will be notified at the start of the test calls that the caller has registered for the trial and will thus respond by text message. Information from this trial will be used to prepare a report regarding the feasibility of rolling out such a program on a national basis.
In 2009, following its accessibility decision, the CRTC asked a group of public safety representatives, telecommunications companies and the hearing and speech impaired community to develop solutions to improve 911 access for persons with hearing or speech impairments. The trial is a result of their collaboration.