Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia implements 911 texting service

Nova Scotia has become the first province in Canada to implement a province-wide 911 texting service for people who are deaf or speech impaired.

Service is only available to those with hearing or speech impairments

Richard Martell says the announcement makes him feel equal. (CBC)

Nova Scotia has become the first province in Canada to implement a province-wide 911 texting service for people who are deaf or speech impaired.

Until now, deaf people had to rely on others to call 911 in an emergency or go through the lengthy process of logging onto a computer and using a relay service to contact 911.

Now, if they have texting on their cell phone and have registered their number with their service provider, they can call 911 and the call will go to text messaging so they can communicate directly with 911 operators.

M.J. Crawford, a member of the Deafness Advocacy Association of Nova Scotia, says she's happy about the service, which means she will no longer have to rely on others to call if one of her children needs emergency help.

"There was one situation where my son had fallen from a ladder and he almost passed out, but fortunately my husband was with me and was able to make that call. So again, if I was alone, then I would not have been able to access 911, so it is a concern for me or has been a concern for me," she said.

The service is only available to those with hearing or speech impairments, which amounts to an estimated 55,000 Nova Scotians.

Jim McDermott, who is deaf and teaches Deaf Studies at NSCC, is a fan of the new measure.

"There will no longer be a barrier holding back deaf and hard of hearing Nova Scotians from being self-reliant," he said.

Richard Martell, who was born deaf, welcomed the new service.

"Now with the launch of 911, I feel equal. I feel positive. Now, I feel good because I have access. We're partners. We're a team,” he said.

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