Callers have been warned against using a text service designed for deaf people to contact the emergency services.
According to BT, 250,000 people are registered with a text service which allows users to contact emergency services without speaking on the phone. The service, which was set up to help deaf people and those with a speech impediment, could allow those in a hostage situation in which it would be too dangerous to speak to call for help silently.
But both BT and Ofcom have warned that the system should only be used when necessary as an increase in demand could cause capacity issues for disabled users. It also has a slower response time than a 999 call.
A spokesman for the communications regulator, which requires mobile phone companies to provide the service, said that it "has been designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech". Users register for the system in advance by sending the word "register" in a text to 999 and replying "yes" to the response, which will include information about the service.
BT does not record whether those who register are hearing-impaired or not. Currently the service receives only 14 requests a week.
(1) 'Only 14 callers use the system a week..' So what ? It is an emergency access for deaf people, should they not have the same right of access as anyone else for help ?
(2) Why aren't registered callers verified first to ensure they are deaf or have a serious hearing loss ?
(3) In the USA they have a system verifying if you are deaf or not, (Legally deaf etc), time we had that in the UK... BT doesn't even ask if you are deaf.
(4) Fines should be issued to hearing abusing dedicated helplines we use.