More than 214,000 people with a hearing loss or difficulty with speech have signed up to the 999 text service over the past six years, it has been revealed.
Information obtained from BT and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by The Limping Chicken found that 180,060 people registered to Emergency SMS from 2011 to April 2016, with a further 35,000 joining the service up to December last year.
In response to the news, Paul Breckell, chief executive at Action on Hearing Loss said: “We are very pleased to see that this valuable service is being utilised by those with deafness and hearing loss.
“Ensuring that the emergency services are fully accessible to the 11 million people with hearing loss and 900,000 people with severe or profound deafness in the UK is incredibly important and we would urge anyone who isn’t signed up to the scheme to do so now.”
People interested in signing up to Emergency SMS can text ‘register’ to 999, where they will receive a text with further instructions on how to join. In an emergency, individuals can then send a text to the number containing information about what and where the problem is taking place and which service they require. The emergency services will then respond via. text within three minutes.
The service has been running since September 2009, before being made permanent following a successful trial two years later. Emergency SMS is funded by mobile networks and was developed by organisations such as Action on Hearing Loss, BT, Cable & Wireless, Ofcom, DCMS and the emergency services.
Alongside Emergency SMS, all UK mobile providers must offer voice and text relay services for 999 calls under Ofcom rules.
A spokesperson for the regulator said: “The emergency SMS scheme has proved very successful and is highly valued by hearing and speech-impaired people.
“Getting help right away can make a big difference in emergency situations. The service means that means that deaf and speech-impaired people can contact 999 quickly, easily and with confidence.”
By Liam O’Dell. Liam is partially deaf and uses hearing aids in both ears. Alongside studying for a degree in journalism, Liam enjoys presenting his own radio show, listening to music and reading one of the many books on his ’to-be-read’ list. You can find out more about Liam over at his blog: www.thelifeofathinker.
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Rayovac: Never run out of hearing aid batteries again by subscribing!
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Find out how to add Live Captions to Facebook Live!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- Signature: Leading awarding body for BSL qualifications
- Signworld: Learn BSL online!
- Cast Theatre, Doncaster: The UK's the UK’s first fully BSL integrated pantomime
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- Sign Solutions: communication support, training and translation
- InterpretersLive: On demand BSL video interpretation
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- deafPLUS: BSL advice helpline
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Captioned and BSL interpreted performances (see dates here)
- Royal School for the Deaf, Derby: Residential education for deaf children
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Performance Interpreting: BSL interpreting at concerts
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people