FAQs

What is Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1)?

What is Text Messaging?

How does T9-1-1 work?

Can anyone initiate text messaging with a 9-1-1 call centre by sending a text message directly to the digits “9-1-1?”

Can I expect to be served in my preferred language when using T9-1-1?

Why is a call to 9-1-1 (voice call) required to initiate the T9-1-1 session?

Do I need to have a voice plan to place a voice call to 9-1-1?

Is T9-1-1 intended for everyone?

Why is T9-1-1 not available for everyone?

When will the T9-1-1 service be made available?

Where will T9-1-1 be available?

How can I find out where T9-1-1 is offered?

Can I use T9-1-1 when I travel?

How much will it cost?

What cell phones work with T9-1-1?

How do I register for the service?

What should I do if I have registered for the T9-1-1 service but do not receive an initial text message from the 9-1-1 call centre after calling 9-1-1?

Do I have to unlock my cell phone keypad to use Text with 9-1-1?

Can I register for the T9-1-1 service, even if I am not Deaf, do not have hearing loss or I am not speech impaired, but I do have a close friend or relative who is DHHSI and has access to my phone?

If I get a new cell phone or change my SIM card, do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

If I change my telephone number do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

If I change my wireless service provider do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

How was T9-1-1 developed?

What is Video Relay Service, and how does it relate to T9-1-1?

Can I use Text with 9-1-1 using Wi-Fi Calling?

What is Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1)?

  • T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres and/or emergency services in Canada with the ability to communicate with a DHHSI person’s registered cell phone during an emergency, using wireless text messaging (SMS).

What is Text Messaging?

  • Text messaging, or texting, refers to the exchange of brief text messages between cell phones over a wireless service provider’s network.

How does T9-1-1 work?

  • The T9-1-1 service must be activated in an area before it can be accessed.
  • Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) services must be deployed in the area.
  • A Deaf, Deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) person wanting the ability to use the service must register for it with their wireless service provider.
  • A compatible handset is required for this service. This can be verified with the DHHSI person’s wireless service provider.
  • When the DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. Even if the caller can’t speak, the 9-1-1 call taker should receive an indicator that advises them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 call taker then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.

Can anyone initiate text messaging with a 9-1-1 call centre by sending a text message directly to the digits “9-1-1?”

  • No. Text messages sent directly to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services anywhere in Canada. Messages texted to 9-1-1 will receive an automatic reply advising the user to call 9-1-1 for emergency services. “Text to 9-1-1” for the public-at-large may be available in the future as the nationwide 9-1-1 infrastructure evolves.

Can I expect to be served in my preferred language when using T9-1-1?

  • Local 9-1-1 centres, being the responsibility of the municipalities or provinces in which they operate, will attempt to honour your language choice (English or French) on a best effort basis, but there are areas where they may not always have the ability to provide bilingual service.

Why is a call to 9-1-1 (voice call) required to initiate the T9-1-1 session?

  • It establishes direct contact with the 9-1-1 call centre.
  • It provides the 9-1-1 call taker with the caller’s telephone number which will be used to initiate text messaging with the caller.
  • It provides the 9-1-1 call taker with the approximate location of the cell phone.
  • It establishes a voice channel that enables the 9-1-1 call taker to hear any background noises that can be very helpful to assess the emergency and to provide enhanced 9-1-1 functions.

Do I need to have a voice plan to place a voice call to 9-1-1?

  • Generally, a voice plan is not required to call 9-1-1. However, you will need to have a valid text messaging plan in order to use the T91-1 service. Please consult your service provider’s Web site for information about their wireless service plans.

Is T9-1-1 intended for everyone?

  • No. In Canada, the T9-1-1 service is only intended for Deaf, Deafened, hard of hearing, or speech impaired persons.
  • Voice calling remains the only way to access 9-1-1 services by a person that is not Deaf, Deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairment.
  • T9-1-1 calls require more time than a voice call to communicate with emergency services.

Why is T9-1-1 not available for everyone?

  • Voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not Deaf, Deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairment.
  • During an emergency, time is of the essence and talking enables faster communication than texting, and there is a small chance that text messaging could be delayed or lost.

When will the T9-1-1 service be made available?

  • The service is now available to the majority of Canadians in many areas of the country, including many parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and province-wide in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Some 9-1-1 call centres are still making the necessary upgrades to their systems and will launch the T9-1-1 service in the coming months, but once you have registered the cell phone, you will have access to T9-1-1 in any area of the county where the service is available. Visit www.TextWith911.ca for an up-to-date listing of all communities where T9-1-1 service is available.

Where will T9-1-1 be available?

  • The service will only be available in areas that have received wireless and 9-1-1 network upgrades and that has been implemented by the municipality or the province and their emergency centres.

How can I find out where T9-1-1 is offered?

Can I use T9-1-1 when I travel?

  • Yes, but T9-1-1 will only work within Canada and in areas that have implemented the required upgrades.
  • T9-1-1 will not work outside of Canada.

How much will it cost?

  • The T9-1-1 service is free. However, an active text messaging plan is required.

What cell phones work with T9-1-1?

  • Generally, 3G, 4G and GSM cell phones support T9-1-1.
  • Contact your wireless service provider to confirm if your cell phone model will work with T9-1-1.

How do I register for the service?

  • Contact your wireless service provider or review the instructions on your wireless service provider’s Web site.
  • An active text messaging plan and supported cell phone are required to use T9-1-1.

What should I do if I have registered for the T9-1-1 service but do not receive an initial text message from the 9-1-1 call centre after calling 9-1-1?

  • Ensure that you are using the cell phone with the telephone number that you have registered with the T9-1-1 service.
  • Confirm that you are still in the coverage area.
  • Check to make sure that you have adequate wireless network coverage by looking at your handset.
  • Keep monitoring the cell phone display to ensure that the call is still connected.
  • Please be patient, as emergency text communication takes longer to initiate, especially during peak emergency situations. The 9-1-1 call takers will be making their best efforts to quickly send the initial text message.
  • If no response is received within a few minutes, then you may seek an alternate way to get assistance, such as asking someone else to dial 9-1-1 on your behalf.
  • In instances where you do not receive replies to your text message, re-send the message.

Do I have to unlock my cell phone keypad to use Text with 9-1-1?

  • Yes. Some cell phones do not allow receiving and/or sending text messages, if the keypad is locked even though they allow a user to dial 9-1-1.
  • “Unlock” means to unlock your cell phone keypad to send or receive text messages as you normally would. This may mean entering your personal ID password or simply pressing an unlock button on your device.

Can I register for the T9-1-1 service, even if I am not Deaf, do not have hearing loss or I am not speech impaired, but I do have a close friend or relative who is DHHSI and has access to my phone?

  • Yes. Registration is available to family members and close friends of DHHSI users in the event that the DHHSI user may require access to their phone in an emergency situation.
  • If a hearing/speaking person uses a T9-1-1 registered device to make a 9-1-1 call, then that person should proceed to answer the 9-1-1 operator verbally.

If I get a new cell phone or change my SIM card, do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

  • No, if you do not change your telephone number. However, please note that you do need to validate with your wireless service provider’s website that the new device is compatible with the T9-1-1 service.

If I change my telephone number do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

  • Yes. You will need to deregister the old number and register the new one.

If I change my wireless service provider do I need to re-register for the T9-1-1 service?

  • Yes. You will need to deregister with your old provider and register with the new one.

How was T9-1-1 developed?

  • T9-1-1 was developed by the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG). The CISC ESWG participants included wireless carriers, 9-1-1 service providers, Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) organizations, representatives of hearing- and speech-impaired persons, and other interested parties. The T9-1-1 service was trialed with volunteers from the Deaf, Deafened, hard of hearing, and speech impaired community in the spring and summer of 2012 in Vancouver, Toronto, Peel Region, and in Montreal. Their observations were positive and their comments helped to develop and improve the service.

What is Video Relay Service, and how does it relate to T9-1-1?

  • Video Relay Service (VRS) and T9-1-1 are two distinct and unrelated services. T9-1-1 is the most direct method of the two for contacting 9-1-1, 24/7. Contacting 9-1-1 using VRS is only possible during VRS service hours.
  • VRS is a basic telecommunications service that enables deaf or speech impaired Canadians who use sign language to communicate with voice telephone users. The sign language user connects to a VRS operator using an Internet-based videoconferencing app. The operator then places a voice telephone call to the other party and relays the conversation from sign language to voice and vice-versa.
  • A VRS user will be able to enter the digits 9-1-1 in their VRS app to contact emergency services, but only during VRS service hours. T9-1-1 can be used as an alternative method to contact 9-1-1 at any time. Emergency calls using the VRS app will be placed first in line for a VRS operator. The VRS operator and emergency answering personnel will attempt to confirm that the customer is at their registered address, or if not there, where they are. Please be aware that there may be some delay involved in this process. Once the location and nature of the emergency are determined, the local emergency answering centre in your area dispatches the appropriate fire, police or medical responders. The VRS operator stays with the caller and assists the emergency services personnel as long as they are needed.
  • For more information about VRS, visit www.srvcanadavrs.ca.

Can I use Text with 9-1-1 using Wi-Fi Calling?

  • No. Wi-Fi Calling does not support T9-1-1. T9-1-1 is only available when using your mobile phone when it is connected to a cellular network. And remember, you must first register your mobile phone number with your wireless service provider before you can use T9-1-1.