Kitsap County embraces technology to increase access to emergency services for people with disabilities

person texting on hand-held phone

The implications of Kitsap County’s new way to contact 911 in case of emergency are innovative and far-reaching. As of 2015 residents of Kitsap County, Washington have the additional option of sending a text message to 911. The significance of this change resonates with deaf people or people who have speech impairments or disabilities resulting in speech impairments. Furthermore, having the option of discreetly texting 911 benefits people who may be in abusive relationships or dangerous situations. As of now, Kitsap County is the only county in Washington State to have the option of texting, though 16 other states offer the option, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Currently, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon support texting to 911. With Kitsap County as the groundbreaker in Washington, this opens the possibility of similar opportunities in other counties. As the prevalence of text capable phones rises, it is essential that alternative emergency contact options become available on a national level.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.