Bill Ensures Statewide Implementation of Text to 9-1-1 By 2021
Sacramento –AB 1168, by Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin has been signed by Governor Newsom. The bill requires emergency dispatch/call centers statewide to implement text to 9-1-1 and real-time text services by 2021.
“As someone who is hard of hearing, I am very aware of the positive impact this legislation will have on the members of the deaf and hard of hearing community," Mullin stated. “This technology will also benefit those who find themselves in a situation where it may be too dangerous to dial 9-1-1 and speak to a dispatcher.”
Currently San Mateo, Sacramento, and Los Angeles are some of the counties that have already implemented this technology and AB 1168 requires the service to be implemented consistently throughout California by 2021. Currently, services such as Text Telephones (TTYs) and Video Relay Services, make it possible for the deaf and hard of hearing community to communicate with emergency dispatchers, but access is sometimes delayed due to translation and as new technology continues to advance, these services are not the most accessible form of communication.
Numerous organizations and coalitions within the deaf and hard of hearing community advocated tirelessly for this legislation. “We are thrilled to see the Governor sign this critical and historical legislation that will finally ensure access to 9-1-1 directly via text from any mobile device,” said Sheri Farinha, Chair of the California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “Not only will over 4 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing Californians be able to text when a crisis or emergency arises, but this new law can help any resident in California when calling via voice isn’t an option. We deeply appreciate Assemblymember Mullin’s leadership to advocate on our behalf.”
“More and more, the average person is moving away from having a landline and instead is using a cell phone almost exclusively,” Mullin pointed out. “Since people are already utilizing instant messaging, text messaging, e-mail or video communication through smartphones or computers, this is the next logical step toward expanding access to 9-1-1 for the deaf and hard of hearing and for all Californians.”