Viable Will Soon Connect You To 9-1-1 Emergency Services

June 2, 2008

Most deaf folks I know haven’t used a TTY in years — rather, they just use videophones as well as text-based relay services through the Internet or via their pagers. But they still kept a “landline” phone line with a TTY next to it. For for? Ah, for emergencies! They needed a way to call 9-1-1, and having the TTY and phone ready was a way to make sure they’d get an ambulance or police over whenever they needed it. (Now, if only these 9-1-1 emergency providers will always respond to TTY calls …)

Viable VRS will soon be able to connect you to your local 9-1-1 emergency service provider. All you would need to do is dial “911” on ViableVision or your VPAD and click on “VRS.” If you’re using a different videophone, you would be able to dial the full address as following — please be sure to save this at the top of your contacts list!

  • Dialing 911 or via Viable Vision and the VPAD
  • Dialing via D-Link DVC-1000, Sorenson VP-100, or the Ojo
  • Dialing via Sorenson VP-200

NOTE: This 9-1-1 emergency service is not yet “live” — I’ll let you know when Viable begins providing this service.

I previously blogged about Sorenson providing 9-1-1 services a year ago. Good to see another VRS provider getting into the game, even if it’s being mandated by FCC. I’ll also let you know when other VRS providers begin providing 9-1-1 services as well.

Now, my question is: if you’ve got high-speed Internet and a videophone (or several videophones!) at home, do you even need a landline phone line installed in your home nowadays?

EDIT (6/3/2008): Viable just released a video explaining this new service.  Carla Mathers is featured in this video — good job, dear Carla!


9 Responses to “Viable Will Soon Connect You To 9-1-1 Emergency Services”

  1. tayler Says:

    911 is different from e911. Currently, the only way for deaf callers to use e911 is to by calling 911 on their TTY devices.

  2. J.J. Says:

    Not good enough.

    From your link:


    “However, all 9-1-1 calls made through ViableVRS will receive priority treatment and receive the next available video interpreter (VI). As soon as the VI appears on screen, the ViableVRS caller will be asked for name, street address, and a brief description of the emergency. Afterwards, the VI will contact our special emergency center, get the local phone number for emergency response, connect to that number, and relay the conversation.”


    With a TDD, you can dial 911 and pass out and someone will come and knock down the door. With Viable you need to call and give all info before they even know where you are. Not good enough in real emergencies (i.e. you are having a heart attack and cannot talk on the phone or someone broke into your house and you need to dial 911 then hide or get a baseball bat).

  3. proudgeek Says:

    Very good point, J.J.! I hadn’t thought of that.

  4. Joan Says:

    That’s what they already said on their website:

  5. adam Says:

    This issue is JOKE!

  6. proudgeek Says:

    J.J. — Viable just issued a video and press release explaining that calling 911 via TTY is still the recommended course of action.

    I wonder if Viable has the ability, like Sorenson (via a third party), to track IP numbers to your address. Come to think of it, I wonder if Sorenson’s contractor (presumably with its more detailed database / abilities) can actually match IP addresses to addresses or only to the general area. Hmm.

  7. Rox Says:

    I’m confused… I’m keeping my TTY phone in the event of a power outage… doesn’t the internet and the VP require power?

  8. proudgeek Says:

    Rox – yep, Internet and VP require power. Just make sure your TTY has rechargeable batteries properly installed! :-)

  9. J.J. Says:

    Yep, this is why we need the FCC to take charge. There needs to be a system implemented by all VRS providers, but VRS providers aren’t exactly working together. The FCC needs to issue some kind of a mandate to require e911 to be offered. This is why Tayler Mayer is trying to get Sorenson to open its directory…you would need to go to his site for more information..but this is the gist of what I know.


    Personally, I do not have a TDD, but I am not too concerned because I live in a tightly knit apartment community and know that my neighbors would call 911 if I ran around screaming (I am a big fella…they would call the cops out of fear anyway :-)). If I lived in a place where I did not have neighbors 2-3 feet away…I would simply call up the local telephone company and activate my phone line, but not subscribe to their service. Local companies are supposed to keep all lines “live” for just 911 calls…and if an emergency occured I would just dial 911 and leave the phone off the hook…response would come in about 10 minutes..I know this because I had a good friend with a phone number ending in 9110….you can guess what happened when I mis-dialed one time…

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