Telecoms: new device for calls of the deaf and hard of hearing

Télécoms: nouveau dispositif pour les appels des sourds et malentendants

Allow deaf and hard of hearing to call any questioner. The French operators of telecommunications launch on Monday a new phone service dedicated, in application of the law on the digital adopted in October 2016.

A decree devoted to people with disabilities requires operators to give access, free of charge, one hour of communication per month to persons who are deaf and hard of hearing, via a translation of the conversation in the language of their choice.

“Today we can be an essential step that was expected for many years,” said Jérémie Boroy, president of the national Union for the social integration of hearing impaired (UNISDA), during a presentation of this new service on Thursday.

The Federation FFTelecoms, which brings together fifteen telephone companies, whose Altice for SFR, Bouygues and Orange, has chosen the French start-up Roger Voice to develop its application, while the operator Free (Iliad group) has relied on the company DEAFI to develop the telephone relay Free.

A telephone platform, whose development was “a real challenge” and “must improve again”, admits Michel Combot, director-general of FFTélécoms, the law requiring that a response be made to both the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf, blind and aphasic people (affection, which is the difficulty of finding words to an inability to express themselves).

At the time of the call, the person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing sees on his screen a list of different options : a sign-language interpreter, a “coder-in spoken language completed”, or a video call with transcription and captioning correction “by a scribe”.

A time of connection then allows the deaf or hard of hearing to explain to the interpreter the nature of the communication. Contextualization is essential, according to Michel Combot, which reminds us that “the tone adopted by the interpreter will not be the same if you call a member of your family or a body.”

– The issue of vocational training –

“Hello, you are in a relationship with the telephony platform Roger Voice, a deaf person is calling you. I am interpreter and I will translate your conversation”, will hear the interlocutor for the deaf or hard of hearing.

For the deaf and the blind, the conversation will be transcribed on an interface for braille, the response of the deaf-blind are then vocalized to his interlocutor, said Olivier Jeannel, creator of Roger’s Voice.

The act provides for a progressive implementation of the device. From 8 October, the operators are required to offer one hour of free calling per month.

From 1 October 2021, the call time will be increased to 3 hours per month and 5 hours per month from October 1, 2026.

But at the present time, there are only 500 sign language interpreters, and a diploma of interpreter for the people with aphasia remains to create.

“Today, we don’t have enough (of interpreters), if we want tomorrow to open a service that works 24h/24. Hence, the choice of the legislator to rely on a rise in support for that at the same time the power of the public can trigger a dynamic that would develop the training of sign language interpreters, coders in CAP [French language spoken completed], specialized professionals, in the direction of the public aphasia,” explained Jérémie Boroy.

The act applies also to public services and businesses performing over 250 million turnover, which are supposed to make, as of Monday, their services accessible to deaf and hard of hearing 8: 30 to 19: 00 Monday to Friday.

If some have already taken steps in this direction for several years, others are lagging behind, according to the associations and telephone operators.

On the five million people who have, to widely varying degrees, a report to the deafness, 500,000 people who are deaf severe or deaf are deep “prevented the face of the phone.”


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