Text-to-911 now live statewide, helping the deaf and hard of hea - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Text-to-911 now live statewide, helping the deaf and hard of hearing community

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Starting Tuesday, Minnesotans now have a new way to access emergency services.  A new text to 911 program was launched in all counties statewide. 

The program is especially helpful to the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Joanne Coffin-Langdon is among the 20 percent of Minnesotans who have experienced hearing loss. 

"I was not born that way. That's one of the reasons I can talk fairly well, is I was born with hearing, and then became deaf when I was ten," said Coffin-Langdon. 

Since then, she's been a strong advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community. She has taught ASL and the Deaf Studies program at UMD for 16 years.  That same community received some big news this week. 

Coffin-Langdon said, "It is life changing to be able to be an independent person, and not dependent on another person, or a system." 

The new text to 911 program allows anyone who is in a situation where they can't call for help to send a text for emergency services. 

"Things like that are just breaking down the barriers, making things more accessible, bringing it up to the 21st century," said Coffin Langdon.  

The process is simple: Simply send a message to 911 stating your emergency and your location, and a dispatcher will walk you through the rest. 

It's a great advancement in technology. Our ability to get them the service they need in an emergency is effected by this technological advancement," said Jason Lukovsky, 911 dispatch supervising deputy.  

The program can also be used by anyone who's in a situation where talking on the phone isn't safe. 

"I also think about the many, many, many people where talking in that moment is not safe. Maybe they're a victim of domestic violence or something like that," said Coffin-Langdon. 

Lukovsky said, "I think this has been a long time coming. They've been very patient, they've cooperated with officials state wide, and provided them feed back and input for what their needs are.

Officials say the new program, now live statewide, should be used as a last resort. Those dealing with an emergency should do their best to place a call first, as that delivers a more accurate location, and a quicker response.   

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