Deaf community gets 111 text service

Deaf people can now send a text message to alert emergency 111 services.

Police have installed new technology that enables texts to be received and responded to by communications centres. If the texters need ambulance, their details will be sent to those services the same way they would for a normal 111 call.

Police Minister Judith Collins launched the scheme which went live in Auckland today. Deaf or hearing impaired people who have registered for the service with Deaf Aotearoa and Police will be able to use the system. Already around 500 people have expressed an interest in accessing the service.

“Our deaf and hearing impaired community has, until now, had a more challenging time summoning help, particularly if they are not at home,'' Ms Collins said.

“Traditionally, they have used deaf faxes and tele-typewriter phones to contact emergency services.

“These are still used but are not ideal in today's mobile environment, as they rely on the person being at home if they have an emergency.''

Associate Minister for Disability Issues Pansy Wong said: “I congratulate the New Zealand Police for making things easier for the deaf community during an emergency by working with Deaf Aotearoa to improve accessibility.

“This is a good example of embracing new technology to enhance accessibility for people with impairment.”