College adds texting line for hearing impaired students: Students needing assistance can text 713-469-1071
08.25.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez
San Jacinto College is now implementing a texting service for hearing impaired students and other emergency situations.
“A few years ago, the only way we could communicate to hearing impaired students who needed assistance was by literally writing back and forth on a pad of paper,” said Annette Stewart, San Jacinto College campus police telecommunications coordinator. “Sometimes they’d type out text messages on their phones and pass those back and forth. That gave us an idea to have an emergency texting service available. Now we have a dedicated phone line used for these texts requesting campus police assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Hearing impaired students can text 713-469-1071 to receive emergency assistance.
In addition to the new texting service, all three San Jacinto College campuses have Code Blue emergency phones installed in campus parking lots. These have been available since 1999. In 2012, video surveillance cameras were installed in campus parking lots as well as the district parking lot in order to enhance safety and provide documentation of activity occurring in the public spaces of the College. All San Jacinto College students, faculty, and staff have also been encouraged to save the College’s campus police direct emergency phone number, 281-476-9128, into their personal cell phones for any campus emergency.
This newest addition of an emergency texting line gives hearing impaired students a faster option to communicate with campus police directly from their location rather than having to go directly to their campus station. Once campus police receive the information, they can also notify a campus sign language interpreter to accompany them to the student’s location.
Along with being an immediate emergency resource for hearing impaired students, the emergency texting line is available to all students for any emergency on campus, especially situations where students are unable to talk. Within the last few years, tragic active shooter incidents have occurred across the U.S. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that the average active shooter incident lasts 12 minutes with the incident still underway 57 percent of the time when law enforcement arrives. In those crucial minutes, students and staff that take shelter need a safe way to communicate details of the incident with campus police. The emergency texting service is an example of a security measure that San Jacinto College is taking in advancing student safety.
“It’s becoming more common for colleges and universities nationwide to have a campus police emergency texting line,” said San Jacinto College Chief of Police, William Taylor. “We have to stay innovative. We want to provide our students with as many ways as possible to contact us if they need our assistance.”
San Jacinto College also encourages students, faculty, staff, and the College community to register for SJC AlertMe, which contacts registrants through email, voice, and text messages in the event of an emergency situation. SJC AlertMe is activated when the College determines a serious threat exists and the College community must take immediate action to remain safe and secure. The system is also used to announce an unscheduled College and / or campus closing, or cancellation of classes due to situations such as severe weather. San Jacinto College employees and students must register through the Secure Online System (S.O.S.). Members of the College community can sign-up by visiting www.sanjac.edu/alert-me.
The San Jacinto College Police Department operates seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The department has primary responsibility for crime prevention, law enforcement, parking and traffic control, emergency response, and policing of special events.
Standard text messaging and data rates apply for the emergency texting line and the SJC AlertMe system. For more information on San Jacinto College’s emergency texting line and other campus police services, visit www.sanjac.edu/student-services/helpful-resources/campus-police.
Pictured above: San Jacinto College police telecommunicators Rachel Lofton (left) and Manuela Beckler (right) are two of the College’s police dispatchers that monitor San Jacinto College emergency communications, including the new emergency texting line. Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region, and a support system that maps out a pathway for success. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.