Mayor launches 911 text system for people unable to call

D.C. residents can now text 911 in case of an emergency.

Mayor Muriel Bowser launched a new service Wednesday allowing District residents to report emergencies through a text message to improve accessibility for those who cannot call to report an incident.

The new system is designed to allow people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability to more easily seek help from authorities. The system can also help residents who would be endangered by calling 911 especially if a perpetrator is nearby, according to the release.

To text 911, a person must use a smartphone that can send text messages and has location services enabled. The messages must be brief, in English and understandable without slang or abbreviations, according to the release.

“Text to 911 is the latest example of how we are using every resource possible to make Washington D.C. safer and stronger for all residents,” Bowser said in the release.

Officials said residents that have the ability to call 911 should continue to phone in emergencies, according to the release.

Operators at Office of Unified Communication have received 60,000 more 911 calls so far this year compared to this point last year and answer between 3,500 and 4,200 emergency calls per day. The OUC worked with Gallaudet University and the Federal Communications Commission to develop and test the program, the release states.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.