What is An RTT Call with NG911 Understanding How Real-Time-Text for 911 Works

Posted in All, NGA911 on Oct 30, 2022

When receiving or making a call, you may have seen “RTT” or “T” on your phone’s screen. RTT is an acronym that stands for “Real-Time Text,” and is an essential capability feature made possible with NG9-1-1. 

When paired with the NG911 infrastructure, RTT for 911 allows PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) to communicate more effectively with citizens in need. Real-Time text is often used by smartphone users who are hard of hearing, deaf, or have speech limitations and can be vital for these 911 callers in an emergency. 

In this blog from our leading NG911 providers and trusted experts at NGA, we’ll discuss: 

  • A brief history of RTT 911 calls
  • What an RTT call to 911 is
  • How RTT 911 calls work
  • Answers to RTT FAQs

Table of Contents:

  1. RTT Calls and 911: A Brief History 
  2. What is an RTT Call for 911?
  3. How Do RTT 911 Calls Work?  
  4. Answers to Common RTT for 911 FAQs
  5. Can I Call 911 with RTT? 
  6. How Do I RTT 911? 
  7. Does an RTT 911 Call Cost Anything?
  8. RTT FAQs for 911 Continued
  9. Conclusion 

People Also Ask:

What is the point of RTT calling?

RTT (Real-Time Text) allows you to communicate during a phone call. In emergency situations where it is unsafe to make a voice call to 911, citizens can use RTT to communicate with first responders non-verbally. 

What is the difference between RTT and TTY?

TTY (Teletypewriter) requires users to take turns sending text messages, RTT messages are transmitted in real time. This instantaneous texting allows for a seamless flow of communication with texting, voice, and voice-to-text messaging. RTT works on i0S and Android smartphones. 

How can RTT help someone with a hearing disability?

Real-Time Text (RTT) enables individuals with hearing impairments to communicate effortlessly with instant text messaging. RTT technology allows the caller and receiver to read and respond without having to wait for the other to finish composing their text message. 

RTT Calls and 911: A Brief History 

For years, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has worked alongside phone providers and manufacturers to ensure that phones support texting technology. 

As voice communications evolved toward wireless devices and networks, certain texting technologies couldn't keep up with smartphones. The FCC started working with emergency organizations, like NENA, to implement Real-Time Texting (RTT) technology for 911 systems. 

What is an RTT Call for 911?

When an emergency arises, communication technologies such as Real-Time Texting can make all the difference. RTT 911 calls allow civilians in need of emergency response to send texts to telecommunicators as the situation unfolds. 

The dispatcher receiving emergency information from a text message sent in real-time can read the message as it's being written and respond to it simultaneously. RTT calls remove the need to hit “Send,” unlike other types of text-based communications. 

The bottom line: RTT mimics voice exchanges and provides phone users with disabilities or those in certain situations where calling is not an option with more accessible and streamlined emergency response communication.

How Do RTT 911 Calls Work?  

With traditional texting technology, both the sender and recipient take turns communicating back and forth. Both users can see their text stream in conjunction with their speech during an RTT 911 call.  

RTT calling features allow citizens to communicate with other wireless smart device users, such as

  • Individuals
  • Businesses
  • Government agencies
  • 911

Being able to reach and converse with various types of recipients can mean more effective communication and efficient emergency response solutions.  

Like NG911 (Next Generation 911) systems, RTT features use IP (Internet Protocol) and cloud-based networks. These secure, interconnected networks mean fewer dropped calls when contacting 911 for assistance.  

Answers to Common RTT for 911 FAQs

At NGA, we strive to be a comprehensive resource regarding the NG911 system, Core Services, and solutions. That’s why we’ve taken the time to provide answers to common questions regarding the Next Generation 911 Real-Time text feature.

Can I Call 911 with RTT? 

Yes! Individuals in need of emergency response can reach 911 dispatchers using Real-Time-text technology. RTT works with smartphone texting and allows citizens to have a real-time conversation with an adequately equipped PSAP. 

How Do I RTT 911? 

Real-time text messaging 911 is just like sending a standard text. Enter “911” into the recipient field, write out the message, and press send when finished. NG911 RTT features also support real-time voice-to-text messaging. 

Does an RTT 911 Call Cost Anything?

There is no additional cost for using RTT to contact 911. Real-Time Text is an accessibility feature that is built into most smartphones used today. However, it is important to note that data use rates may apply depending on the wireless service provider.  RTT FAQs for 911 Continued Why Does it say RTT when I call 911? RTT, or Real-Time Text, allows you to use text messaging to communicate with an emergency dispatcher during a call. RTT works with TTY (Teletypewriter) and may not require additional accessories. 

Do I have to switch to RTT? Yes. But the good news is that nearly all smartphones and other communication devices support Real-Time Text and come with RTT software. 

Can I have the RTT option show up on all calls I make to 911? Yes. Most smartphones, smart devices, and communication devices allow you to turn on the RTT option, so it's visible on all calls you make to 911. 


In an emergency, easier access to 911 communication can mean the difference between tragedy and lives saved. For this reason and many others, public safety organizations like NENA have made Next Generation 911 RTT features for contacting emergency response the standard across the country. 

Would you like to know more about RTT calls for 911?

Connect with our experts at NGA today to get started!