After many years of no access to the UK's 999 services for Deaf/Hard of Hearing people while 'on the move', good old RNID, BT, Ofcom, and the mobile phone companies has been planning this for many years and are happy to announce this - 999 by SMS!
In the old days, each area (i.e. Norfolk, Suffolk, etc) would have their own mobile number that are for "non-Emergency" use and would be much harder to know which one to use if you're not in the area that you usually are. With this single 999 SMS, it make things a lot easier for them to use as it's a national service.
One of the people I know, Charlie, has written this article which goes into depth about how it works:
You don't have to be deaf to appreciate text messages, but as of this month, if you are deaf, sending a text might do more than just help you socialise - it could save your life. A new system is being trialled that allows people who can't hear, or those who can't speak, to contact the emergency services by texting 999. A national service using those 3 famous digits.
Previous schemes were more local, and didn't have just one memorable number. It was unsatisfactory because you would need to know what the relevant nearby text number was or even if they had one in the area you were visiting.
More at the article link below.
Well done to RNID, BT, Ofcom, and the mobile phone companies for making this possible and making things a lot easier for us including myself. I'll be signing up to this as soon as T-Mobile is on board by 29th Sept.
Some of you may think "hey that's open for abuse" - while I agree with that, they do make you to register your number with them first before it can work, so hopefully this system will not be abused. I really hope it will be a successful trial and have it launched as live by 2010, making our lives much easier & accessible.
[Via: BBC Ouch]