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Text to 9-1-1 for People with Hearing Loss

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Hearing Centers of AZ - Text to 9-1-1 for People with Hearing LossDo you struggle with hearing loss? We know it’s a challenge to follow face-to-face conversations with hearing loss, and phone conversations are even worse. When you’re stressed or facing an emergency situation, communicating clearly on the phone is nearly impossible. If you’ve ever had to deal with an emergency and you have hearing loss, you know how difficult it can be to get help. You’ve called 9-1-1, but it’s difficult to talk to law enforcement and understand their questions or instructions. In Maricopa County, Arizona, it will soon be possible to text 9-1-1, ensuring that everyone has equal access to services, and everyone can communicate effectively in emergencies.

What is Text to 9-1-1?

Text to 9-1-1 is important new software that connects 9-1-1 dispatchers with anyone who needs them. Rather than having to dial 9-1-1 and talk on the phone, you can connect with emergency responders by text from your mobile phone, making emergency services accessible to everyone, whether they’re hearing impaired or are in a situation where silence is keeping them safe. This new technology isn’t available in every state, and it’s up to each call center to decide how and when to implement text to 9-1-1 technology. If you do text 9-1-1 and the text service isn’t available yet, you will receive a bounce-back message telling you the text wasn’t delivered. This will alert you to the fact that you’ll have to contact emergency services by other means.

Why We Need Text to 9-1-1 Services

Texting technology is great news for those in the community who are hard of hearing, deaf, or have a speech disability. Phil Pangrazio, CEO of Ability 360, a nonprofit organization helping those with disabilities, says this is an important move for those living with disabilities. “We are removing a very real barrier to people getting emergency services. We are giving people peace of mind and help when they need it the most,” says Pangrazio.

Text to 9-1-1 is also important for the hearing community. Just because you can normally have a conversation on the phone doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to have that conversation in an emergency. For any emergencies that might make it hard to speak, such as a choking or airway emergency, you can still get help even if you’re unable to speak.

According to Allie Bones, CEO of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, it’s often not possible to call 9-1-1 in a tense situation or when someone is the victim of abuse. Bones is glad that this program will “create greater opportunity to summon the help they need discreetly,” allowing more victims to reach out for help. For those who’ve ever been victims of a home robbery or break-in, the ability to text 9-1-1 could have the potential to catch the thief before it’s too late. Whenever it’s not safe to call law enforcement, such as if there’s an intruder in the home and you don’t want to alert them to your presence in the house, you can safely contact the police without blowing your cover.

Changes in Maricopa County

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council has recently voted to fund the text to 9-1-1 program that will ensure that all residents have access to law enforcement and emergency responders. “Moving forward with text to 9-1-1 is the right thing to do,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments. “Being able to text to 9-1-1 provides a critical lifeline to many during moments of crisis.” Other regions, such as Lake Havasu City and the Mesa region, will be following suit in the coming months as the State moves towards enhanced emergency response services, finding ways to serve the community more efficiently to deliver help wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Are You Struggling with Hearing Loss?

Are you worried for your safety? If you have hearing loss, you could be at risk. How many times this week have you missed the ringing of the phone, or haven’t heard the stove alarm? Did you hear the horn from the car in your blind spot? To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, visit us today at one of our Hearing Centers of Arizona locations for a hearing assessment, and to find the hearing device that will change your life.

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