4 Mind-Blowing Ways a Deaf Person Calls the Police

how does a deaf person call the police

It’s a common thing to dial 911 or call the police whenever there is an emergency.

A 911 call to the police is the fastest and easiest way to get help in case of a robbery attack, burglary, murder, or any other type of criminal activity.

It also covers fire and medical emergencies.

Therefore, making a 911 call is the surest way people can save lives and properties if done on time.

But how does a deaf or hard of hearing person make a call to the police if they can’t hear who they are calling? Is it even possible for a deaf person to call the police?

These are the questions I’ll be providing answers to in this article. You’ll unveil them as you read on.

Table of Contents

Can a Deaf Person Conveniently Call the Police?

Before the invention of mobile phones and other communication gadgets we have in today’s world, there have been various inventions, especially in the 1960s.

Some of these inventions were designed to assist deaf, hard of hearing people, deafblind, and people suffering from speech disorder to call the police during an emergency.

Some of such inventions include an emergency call box and teletypewriter (TTY).

The advancement in modern technology has, however, led to the invention of other devices that can enable deaf people to comfortably call the police whenever they need to do so.

I’ll reveal them all as you read on.

Related: 5 Ways a Deaf Person without Hands Communicates

How Does a Deaf Person Call the Police?

how would a deaf person call 911

There are various media or channels a deaf person can employ to call the police. It all depends on the channel available for the 911 call in their locality.

Below are the various ways to make the call during an emergency.

1. Through an Emergency Call Box

This is one of the oldest methods.

The Emergency Call Box is a communication device that has two covers on its surface.

The first cover is red and has a picture of fire with “fire” boldly written on it, while the second cover is blue with a picture of a badge and has a “police” inscription clearly written on it.

A button is located on each cover. Any of these buttons can be pressed by a deaf person during an emergency.

The button in the red cover is used by the deaf person to summon the fire and medical department during emergencies, while the one in the blue cover is used to summon the police department for help.

How to Use an Emergency Call Box

  • Press any of the two buttons according to the help needed
  • Place your hands on the speaker of the call box and wait for a response. You’ll feel a vibrating sensation when your call has been answered
  • If you can speak, talk through the speaker by letting the receiver know that you’re deaf. Then, report your emergency accordingly and wait at the call box for the department to arrive
  • If you’re unable to speak, use the tap pattern to make the call. A continuous tapping of the speaker will summon the police department, while a two-tap or double-tap pattern will summon the fire and medical department
  • Continue with the tapping pattern you choose until help arrives

Note: A deaf person can also use the above tapping patterns at a telephone booth to call for help after dialing 911.

Related: 7 Amazing Ways to Get the Attention of a Deaf Person

2. Through Teletypewriter (TTY)

Just like the emergency call box, the teletypewriter (which is commonly referred to as TTY) is another old communication device that deaf or speech-impaired people can use to call the police.

How to Use a TTY machine

  • Dial 911 on the machine
  • Type your message and send
  • Wait for the receiver to respond to your emergency via a text message, which will display on the screen of the machine

Note: This method is only feasible if the 911 or police department also has a TTY machine. In the absence of a TTY machine, a TRS mode of communication is ideal for calling the police.

3. Through Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS)

This is a web-based relaying service that allows deaf people, deafblind, or people who suffer from the speaking disorder to make normal calls with the use of an assistive device or keyboard.

Sometimes, TRS works hand-in-hand with a TTY. They can both be used to make calls to 911.

The advancement in technology has made the use of TRS faster and more convenient as you can use your mobile device like your Android phone, iPhone, and laptop to make a TRS emergency call.

How to Use a TRS

  • Message the TRS department and tell them your emergency
  • The TRS operator will immediately relay your message to the 911 department via a phone call
  • Wait for a response from the operator to indicate that your message has been delivered and help is on the way

Related: 10 Ways to communicate with a Deaf Person without Sign Language

4. Through Text message

how does a deaf person call the police

In modern times, deaf people, deafblind, hard of hearing people, and people with speech impairment can now call the police via text message.

This is equally applicable to hearing people. However, the text message to 911 is more useful for those who are unable to make a phone call.

Even though calling 911 directly is faster and enables you to give more details about the emergency, a text message can also be handy.

Various apps and assistive technology devices have been developed by professionals to aid better communication between deaf or speech-impaired person and their recipients during an emergency.

Such app includes Deaf911 Emergency Mobile App and InnoCaption.

How to Call the Police via Text

  • Go to the message app on your phone and text a message to 911
  • Depending on the situation of things, your message should probably start like this: “I’m deaf, (and/or I can’t talk on the phone). I need the police immediately. There is an emergency…”
  • Send your message and wait for a response
  • Provide every other information the recipient might need and wait till the police arrive
4 Mind-Blowing Ways a Deaf Person Calls the Police


My love for the disabled community started when I helped a blind man cross the road at around age 6. Fast forward to decades later, I became the caregiver of my grandma, who lost her ability to speak in her 90s. This blog helps me to produce helpful content that aligns with my passion.

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