Emergency Services for the Deaf during COVID-19

Emergency Services for the Deaf during

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that access to information and emergency services is guaranteed for everyone.
Television conferences, informational videos on social media channels dedicated to information and prevention of the virus, information hotlines, and emergency telephone services are all viable solutions for quick and easy access for all citizens.

For All?
Recorded videos do not have subtitles; live conferences cannot rely on the support of an interpreter or a real-time transcription system; and toll-free numbers are, by nature, inaccessible to an often forgotten category of people: the Deaf.

Then how is it possible for deaf people (70 million worldwide) to have complete and factual information to face emergencies?

Access to Information: SignHealth Charity

SignHealth is a charity, founded in 1986, dedicated to making sure Deaf people get the same access to healthcare and health information. At the moment Deaf people in the UK generally have poorer health, simply because access to medical services and health information isn’t routinely provided in sign language.
Specifically for the COVID-19 pandemic, SignHealth, has created a dedicated webpage that is updated and with the most current and emerging information. Information provided ranges from how to contact emergency services to general healthcare information and the dedicated NHS111 toll-free number. The videos are provided in British Sign Language with subtitles.

Pedius and the Accessible Emergency Services in Italy

Since its beginning, Pedius has always fought to break down communication barriers, focusing on the accessibility of emergency services available to deaf people. Starting from various country municipalities such as Trieste, Prato, and Andria, Pedius has enabled local police operations to receive calls from deaf people and has now come to collaborate with the Civil Protection of Rome.

As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic a number of dedicated emergency services have been enabled, yet still provide no access to deaf people. Found within the Pedius application, deaf users can finally call- free of charge and 24 hours a day- the all regional toll-free numbers set up by the Ministry of Health and the Italian Red Cross, to request information, indicate changes in their state of health, and report emergencies in real-time, speaking directly to an operator.
Pedius emergency services
Pedius will continue to make itself available to all other essential services that decide to break down barriers and ensure that the deaf community is fully involved in the communication of information about prevention standards and emergency services. If you know a service or you yourself work for a company that would like to activate their services for the Deaf community in your area, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@pedius.org so we can work together and activate your services during this time.
Picture of Samantha Leone

Samantha Leone

Linguist and LIS interpreter - Italian Sign Language - loves writing and Star Wars. Since 2015 she has been working at Pedius where she deals with communication.