One of the few things that has – up to now – annoyed me about my deafness is that I would probably be pretty useless in the event of an emergency. Not because I’m the kind of guy who would run around screaming, just begging to be slapped to my senses. But because there is no real way I could call 999 if I was out and about. I would either have to hope that someone else is around who could dial for me. Or just dial 999 and not say anything and hope that someone turns up (which I’ve never found very reassuring). For deaf children and young people, the absence of an accessible alternative is not something which helps them develop a sense of independence and self-reliance. In the absence of a Lassie-type creature to convey the need for assistance through a knowing look at strangers, deaf young people as as as disabled and helpless as they can be. Which I don’t like.
So I’m very happy about the news that a new 999 text system is being trialled. You have to register first but after that you can get help by texting 999 and a message will be passed to the emergency services. Their website has more information about how to register and what to say in a text in the event of an emergency. If the trial is a success, it will be properly launched in 2010. It’s a really important step forward. Here’s hoping it’s a success.