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T9-1-1 Frequently Asked Questions

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

  • T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 Call Centres with the ability to communicate with a deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired person 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 cellular 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.
  • A deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired (DHHSI) person wanting the ability to use the service must register for it with their wireless service provider.
  • When the DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. There is no need for them to speak as the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Officer will receive an indicator that tells them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Officer then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.

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 in which they operate, will attempt to honour your language choice (English or Français) on a best effort basis, but they may not always have the ability to provide bilingual service.

Why is a call to 9-1-1 (without speaking) 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 Emergency Communications Officer with the caller’s telephone number which will be used to initiate text messaging with the caller.
  • It provides the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Officer with the approximate location of the cell phone.
  • It establishes a voice channel that enables the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Officer to hear any background noises that can be very helpful to assess the emergency and to provide enhanced 9-1-1 functions.

Is T9-1-1 intended for everyone?

  • No. The T9-1-1 service is only intended for deaf, hard of hearing, and speech impaired persons.
  • At this time, voice calling remains the only way to access 9-1-1 services by a person that is not deaf, 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 best and most effective way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not deaf, 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.

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 to the digits “9-1-1” do not reach emergency services.

Is the T9-1-1 service available in Calgary?

  • Calgary 9-1-1 launched the T9-1-1 service in 2014. The service is currently available to citizens in the Calgary and surrounding area who are registered to use the T9-1-1 service.
  • Please note for other 9-1-1 call centres in Alberta and across Canada, if you are a registered user of this service, check for more information on where the service is available.

When will the T9-1-1 Service be made available elsewhere?

  • Deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or speech impaired persons should visit for more information about the initiative and to find out when the T9-1-1 service becomes available in their municipality or region.

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

  • Yes, but T9-1-1 will only work within Canada and in areas that have the required wireless network and 9-1-1 call centre upgrades.
  • T9-1-1 will not work outside of Canada.

How much does it cost?

  • The T9-1-1 service is free. However, an active wireless subscription is required.

What cell phones work with T9-1-1?

  • Generally, 3G and 4G 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 wireless subscription and supported cell phone are required to use T9-1-1.

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.

Who developed T9-1-1?

  • T9-1-1 was developed by the CRTC Interconnection Steering Committee (CISC) Emergency Services Working Group (ESWG). The CISC ESWG participants include 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.