Access to Emergency Servicesis crucial. But in today’s world of technology, people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech impairments (DHHSI), these services are often inaccessible.

In November 2008, Arthur Rendall, a CHHA member from Burlington, made a presentation to the CRTC regarding the need to make 911 service accessible by wireless handheld devices, using SMS text rather than voice. In 2009 CRTC requested that an investigation be conducted into identifying a system that would DHHSI community members to have access to emergency service from anywhere in Canada by such devices.

In January 2010, the CRTC issued a directive to the Interconnection Steering Committee Emergency Services to progress with the investigations findings, which mandated the introduction of a 911 service via “Text Messaging”.

Mr. Rendall now sits on the Emergency Service Working Group of the CRTC and is requesting assistance from interested CHHA members living in Vancouver, Toronto, PEEL Region (Mississauga/Brampton) and Montreal to take part in trial testing of the system that has been developed.

The system will be tested using the test candidates’ personal wireless devices, which will be registered with their Wireless Service Provider as a DHHSI. The system operates when the DHHSI caller contacts the local 911 operator by text. Therefore the wireless number of the DHHSI registrant must be known so to allow the gateway for 9-1-1 and the Emergency Service Operator to set up their equipment to accept text messaging rather than voice.

These trial tests will be conducted over approximately 3 months. It is hoped that if the tests go well, the system will go live before the end of 2011 and Canada DHHSI community will have the only such direct 9-1-1 system in the world.

Please send your name, where you reside (city) and WSP carrier used for your handheld device to CHHA National Office attention of Karla Wilson. The snail address is: 2415 Holly Lane, Suite 205, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 7P2 or by email at

Thank you in advance for your help in bringing peace of mind to the community of Canadians who are not able to relay on voice/speech emergency systems.