Minnesota starts regionally in pursuit of statewide text-to-911 implementation

By Dana Wahlberg

Calling 911—for oneself, for a friend or relative, or even a complete stranger—is a highly traumatic experience, because it means that someone is having the worst day of their lives. Now, imagine being in that circumstance, but without the ability to call 911—the trauma increases exponentially. Such is the experience for the deaf, deaf-blind, hearing-impaired and speech-impaired communities every time they need emergency assistance. It also is the experience of those for whom making a 911 voice call might place them into even greater danger, such as during a domestic-violence incident, a hostage event or a home invasion.

A few years ago, during an Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) national conference, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, spoke about such an occurrence. Matlin—a devoted advocate for text-to-911 service—said at the time, “Instead of being able to instantly text to 911, I had to trust and leave it to other bystanders. And I shudder to think, what if it had been me in the accident—how could I have called?”

This opinion article was written by Dana Wahlberg and appears in Urgent Communications Date May 11, 2018.

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