Implementation of RTT in Europe

The new EU directive, the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC 2018/1972), will come into force on January 1, 2023. Among other things, this means that Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing people will be able to make emergency calls on the same terms as anyone else.

And there is no doubt that the new accompanying regulations (EECC 2018/1972) have only the best of intentions – the purpose is to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. This includes the Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing being able to make emergency calls in the same way as everybody else.

Real-Time Text – an essential function

Today, Real-Time Text (RTT) is used to make emergency calls possible for everyone, regardless of their abilities. So the technology exists. But it’s currently not integrated or functional for emergency calls in the majority of Europe and North America. As the new legal requirements approach, more and more people are discovering RTT and how this technology can be used, primarily in emergency situations.

It’s important to point out that according to the EU’s technical requirements, RTT is actually a standardized method for sending and receiving text according to the IETF standard (RFC 4103). This is mainly so that EU citizens will be able to make emergency calls in the future, no matter where they are in the EU.

RTT in Europe

There is currently no official plan as to how RTT will be implemented in Europe, but we have been able to ascertain the following:

  • Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing people in Northern Europe use Android and iOS apps (known as Over the Top/OTT apps), or the Internet, to call hearing persons and authorities via Telecom Relay Services. RTT is used for communication in these calls.
  • Today, RTT is used to make emergency calls in just two countries – France and the Netherlands.
  • But it is possible to make RTT calls to relay services in 10 EU countries.
  • Other European countries that have partially or fully implemented RTT are Norway, Switzerland and Great Britain.

Emergency calls with RTT – some examples

 In those countries where a specific RTT app is needed for emergency calls, and where all other calls are made via other RTT apps, the number of emergency calls from these 112 apps is relatively low. Meanwhile, figures from the Netherlands – a country where Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing people can make all call types from one single app – show that the number of emergency calls made is increasing. So the trends show that apps intended solely for 112 calls face a challenge. In an emergency situation, users tend to turn to their usual mode of communication, and this is often an RTT app lacking access to 112.

Now that this legislation (EECC 2018/1972) allows us to ensure accessibility, we want to emphasize the importance of developing a standardized RTT and of integrating it into the existing communication channels. Our common goal should be ensuring that everyone has the possibility of making an emergency call via RTT and that it works wherever you are in the world, in the same way that regular emergency calls work.

Read more about nWise RTT Bridge, a key element in Next Generation Core Services (NGCS) for effectively connecting RTT calls to a PSAP (Public Answering Answering Point) click on the button below.