Deaf Community Learns Text to 9-1-1 Feature - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Deaf Community Learns Text to 9-1-1 Feature

Posted: May 08, 2018 9:02 PM Updated:

GEORGETOWN, Del.- Although the text to 9-1-1 feature has been available in Sussex County since March, the deaf community was able to get a private tutorial with an interpreter on Tuesday afternoon. 

The new feature allows the deaf to communicate with a dispatcher more easily than the previous method of video chat.

"We do have the capability to use text/chat, that's great. Because if the internet were to fail, then we can go over to the texting communication," Dennise Scott said. 

Scott, from Bethany Beach, says deaf survive through text. 

"My mom is 92-years-old and because of her age, her health has been declining. So we need to have 9-1-1 access and to be able to have that work successfully in order to call for help," Scott said. 

Director of Sussex County Emergency Operations Joe Thomas led the training session alongside an interpreter.  He says people have already started utilizing the feature over the last couple of months, but was very eager to get the deaf community on board.

"It is beneficial at certain times, like when you're in a position when you can't talk to someone...we still want you to call 9-1-1, but if you can't, than you have the capability to text," Thomas said. 

Thomas says the text feature does take longer and would not recommend using it in a life-threatening situation.  On average it can take 30 seconds to a minute between texts with a dispatcher. 

Officials will be hosting another training session on Thursday, May 10 at 2 p.m. in Georgetown for the deaf. 

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