Mobile application “Deaf Help” – Deaf assistance in emergency situations
In the event of a life or health emergency, the most important thing is to quickly call professional services: the police, fire brigade or emergency medical services. However, people with impaired hearing or who are deaf cannot make phone calls in the event of an emergency. The mobile application Deaf Help aids a deaf person to independently inform the services that he or she needs help.
Deaf have a lot of issues to deal with in life: visiting the hospital, registration for a family doctor, visiting the office. Slowly it changes. However, there are areas where "slowly" is unacceptable. One such area is the call for help.
The Warmia and Mazury Voivodeship Office in Olsztyn has dwell on this problem and in cooperation with representatives of the Deaf prepared a solution. In May 2015, a dedicated SMS gateway was launched. After registering in the Emergency Response Center database, the person receives a number on which a text message (SMS) can be sent in case of emergency.
The registration form includes, among others. home address, medical conditions, contact details of the caregiver. Just after launching the solution, the reality proved to be much more demanding. Most of deaf people, especially in emergency situations, are unable or not capable to write understandable messages for the 112 operator. Another "brain storm" brought an effective solution. And so DeafHelp was developed for mobile devices. The principle of operation is very simple and consists in encoding the alarm message with clear pictograms. Several categories of events were selected in cooperation with the services and assigned to them: fire, accident, thief, diabetes, etc. It was decided that the selected categories of events are due to the type and number of necessary on-site operations.
These categories make it easier for the 112 operator to decide which services should be informed about the accident. Reporting an emergency by DeafHelp application takes a few seconds and it comes down to: category -> subcategory -> address -> comment -> send a message (e.g. fire, house, address from form, 2nd floor). Technical solutions are just one element of the agreement. Also, Deaf visit the Emergency Centre, get acquainted with the functioning of the medical dispatchers and learn to give first aid. 112 Emergency Response Centre and representatives of the deaf community also work on a paper version of the "communicator", with which members of the rescue teams and other emergency services will be equipped. This solution is intended to facilitate communication between them at the scene of the accident.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
The Deaf Help project is innovative because:
1) It definitely improves the sense of security for the Deaf
2) Underlines the cooperation of government administration with social organizations
3) Solves one of the significant problems of deaf people - emergency calls
4) Activates the environment of deaf people who participate in the creation of the solution
5) It proves that for a small financial means (1500 Euro) you can create a solution
What is the current status of your innovation?
Since the launch of the project, the Emergency Notification Center has received dozens of emergency calls sent using the Deaf Help application. Thanks to the promotion of the solution and the media's interest, the region's society learned much better about the deaf environment. The greatest effect of the implementation are very positive feedback from the project participants.
The project also won a distinction in the competition organized by the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland and went to the finals of the competition on innovation organized by the European Institute of Public Administration.
We are proud that based on our project a national solution is being developed that will soon cover the entire country.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The organizers of the solution are officials of the Voivodeship Office of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn. From the very beginning, the project was implemented in close cooperation with the Olsztyn Association of the Deaf. Only this solution can bring excellent results, not only in the form of the final product, but also exemplary cooperation with the recipients. Every detail has been made with users. The other patrons are the police, fire brigade and emergency medical services.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The solution is dedicated to the deaf person. They are the recipient of the solution. At present, several hundred people use it throughout the province. The result - a significant increase in the sense of security and further ideas for future cooperation.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Reports provided by users concerned many issues ranging from minor ones such as the destruction of property through violence to medical cases ended with immediate surgery in the hospital. Without this solution, a deaf person would in many cases not be able to call for help.
Challenges and Failures
The solution is very simple and requires practically no infrastructure. Technical problems did not occur. The biggest challenge in a few cases was to convince the target users that the project would not disappear after a few months and ... and it succeeded. Deaf people in the region can feel safe!
Conditions for Success
The most important element in creating such solutions is cooperation. Cooperation with the target recipient, involvement in the process of creating applications. The end user must know that he is a co-author. This is very important and sometimes difficult to implement. The necessary condition is also to involve the right people in the project who believe that they are creating something new, something that will help others.
Based on the solution of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodship Office in Olsztyn, a national solution is currently being developed. In our opinion, this solution can be replicated to other countries. Another idea is to create a special printed translator, which will enable the "talk" of rescuers with the victim at the scene of the incident.
The implementation of the Deaf Help project confirmed that problems that have not been solved for years can be realized without major costs.