terptree: 999 for deaf people...at last!

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Monday, 11 May 2009

999 for deaf people...at last!

It looks as if deaf people are to finally get a universal emergency phone number.

It's very difficult to contact police, fire or ambulance services if you're deaf which isn't acceptable; in an emergency it's the vital seconds that count and trying to dial on a textphone can take minutes longer.

Some councils have introduced numbers for deaf people to send a text but most numbers differ from region to region.

For example, if you need an ambulance in Hampshire you can text 80999 but, if you need one in Kent it's 60066. If this isn't confusing enough some councils use a standard 11 digit mobile number.

There are more than eight million deaf or partially hearing people in the UK and the current situation is ridiculous. If a deaf person is visiting another city or county there could be fatal consequences because of this confusing system.

However, trials are being launched in London which enable deaf people to simply text 999 in an emergency.

If it works the number will be rolled out across the country.

This excellent article on the BBC website outlines some of the current problems and explains the trial in more detail.

It's taken six years to introduce but through huge efforts by deaf campaigners, the RNID and the telephone companies we're finally at a stage where 999 will be accessible to deaf people in the UK.


MM said...

We've had text access to the police for years in Wales, we had special cards with numbers on them, we can also fax and minicom (I Launched the first such service in South Wales).

It was nothing at all to do with the RNID, deaf campaigners did it on their own here. Typetalk also fails if the deaf person hasn't a text phone on them too, as call boxes are useless, as reported in the BBC news today. Whilst the RNID has been around since 1910, it has only been in Wales 11 years too...

At last, seems to be well very LAST !

terptree said...

Yes this is a very exciting development! Hopefully more like it will come along