Model & Strategy

The Problem
50% of approximately 6,000 emergency call centers across the U.S. cannot receive anything other than a voice call, despite mobile devices accounting for more than 80% of the inbound 911 requests annually. These traditional emergency systems are not only outdated, but they also create a life-threatening barrier to emergency services for the 65M people who cannot easily communicate by phone — including those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or do not communicate in English. Almost 50% of deaf individuals have reported difficulty accessing emergency services, according to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). Video relay services — connecting a caller via a third-party interpreter — can take between four to 11 minutes to get through to 911 and cannot provide geo-location information to the dispatcher. These extra minutes can be the difference between life and death in emergencies.

The Solution
accesSOS offers immediate access to emergency services in a crisis, providing a solution that is inclusive and accessible to all. Through a free web and mobile app, accesSOS translates text-to-voice via an icon-based, user-friendly interface. Once the user submits a request for help, the details of their emergency are translated into a call to the nearest 911 or 988 center. Emergency responders are notified if an individual is deaf, non-verbal, or doesn’t communicate in English to best prepare them to respond. Additionally, accesSOS can redirect calls better served by other support services, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
By providing a text-to-911 app, people who are deaf, hard of hearing, have speech disabilities, or speak limited English can access emergency services in times of need. To bring awareness to the need for accessible emergency services, accesSOS partnered with @deafdiaries to create an advocacy project on Facebook, creating a space for individuals to share stories about their experiences accessing emergency services.

At a Glance
Founded: 2019
Founder & CEO: Gabriella Wong
Location of work: Domestic, Northeast, West Coast, Midwest, Southwest, Southeast, South Central
San Francisco, CA
Making emergency help accessible for everyone
Gabriella Wong headshot
Meet Gabriella Wong

Gabriella Wong is the founder of accesSOS, a nonprofit tech organization dedicated to providing emergency services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, those with speech disabilities, and those who speak limited English. As a child of deaf adults, Gabriella has lived through the helplessness of seeing her loved ones in trouble but unable to access emergency help due to their disability. Her personal experiences, including her father’s inability to call emergency services when he had a medical emergency, have driven her to use the power of technology and advocacy to expand accessibility. Gabriella is a UC Berkeley CTSP Fellow, a Camelback Fellow, and a Roddenberry Fellow. She serves as the co-chair of NENA: the 911 Association’s Communication Modalities Group. Gabriella earned her master’s in public health from Columbia University.


accesSOS’s technology has directly impacted the lives of 5,187 individuals, providing them vital access to emergency communications. Since 2019, they have helped elevate the availability of text-to-911 services from 30% to 50% among 911 call centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

accesSOS launched the “” app in Santa Fe, NM, covering a population of 89K people who were previously without text-to-911 capabilities before their intervention.

In July 2023, accesSOS launched pilots of the “” app in Albuquerque, NM, covering a previously unserved population of 550K, and Berkeley, CA, covering a previously unserved population of 120K.

accesSOS created language-inclusive options within the app, offering Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Vietnamese.

Their platform “” was used in 2,000 searches and featured as a resource on the National Association of the Deaf’s text-to-911 page.