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911 Text Technology Coming By Year’s End Under Federal Statute

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New technology will soon allow some in the New York and New Jersey area to text their emergencies to 911.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, calling 911 can be a life-or-death struggle for those who are deaf, non-verbal or in an emergency where they cannot speak.

The text 911 technology rolled out Thursday in several upstate New York counties and will soon arrive closer to home.

At Mill Neck Manor School for the Deaf on Long Island, the hearing impaired called the new Federal Communications Commission regulations supporting texting to 911 a game-changer.

“Right now, we don’t have equal access. With this, we have the ability to call or text 911,” deaf resident Loretta Murray said.

“It’s kind of like going from the old dial phones to a smart phone, it’s really a great improvement,” Fran Bogdanoff added.

The effort currently launching in some parts of the country will be mandated by law nationwide in December.

Leading mobile providers AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile are required under the law to roll out new technology, allowing texting to 911 for emergencies.

Officials said the goal is to have texting as powerful as the human cry for help.

“Situations involving domestic violence and also at-risk, disconnected youth,” Philip Mickulas with the Family & Children’s Association said.

Others worry about misspellings or auto-corrections to the wrong address, bad or incomplete information getting through, or fake texts sent out to police dispatchers.

In an effort to foolproof the system, wireless companies say emergency responders will use GPS to track the cell phone that sent out the distress text.

The FCC urges people to contact 911 by making a voice call if possible until the texting emergency system goes nationwide.

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