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Parliament: Nationwide SMS number for 999

Simon Burns (Whip, Whips; West Chelmsford, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will introduce a nationwide scheme to enable deaf people to send text messages to the emergency telephone number 999.

Tony McNulty (Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office; Harrow East, Labour)

holding answer 18 December 2007

The telecommunications service providers, in discussion with the emergency services, have identified technical solutions for providing an emergency SMS for the deaf, and those with hearing or speech impairment. The mobile service providers are currently scoping a trial which will assess the technical feasibility of providing a service to mobile handsets which have been registered for the service.

The service will provide an alternative option for those who routinely use SMS and either do not use a text relay service or may be in circumstances where it is not available. It is anticipated that the trial will be conducted in the second half of 2008.

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