By MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – VODACOM has announced the launch of arguably Africa’s first short message service (SMS) Emergency Service for Deaf,hearing and speech impaired customers.
The SMS service is free and exclusively provided for Vodacom Prepaid,Contract and Top Up customers who are disadvantaged.
It now provides deaf and hearing impaired customers with the option to request emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance services by sending an SMS to 082 112.
Karen Smit, VodacomVPrincipal Specialist for Specific Needs, said the
development, a first for South Africa and the continent, was a continuation of Vodacom’s promise to provide peace of mind for deaf and hearing impaired people.
“We are confident that this initiative will assist in promoting thetability to communicate for Deaf and hearing impaired customers throughtdigital inclusion as they can now request help should they experience an emergency situation.”
Vodacom has been providing accessible products and services to customers with disabilities since 2004.
The Specific Needs division has received a number of accolades including the Change Agents and Disability Champion amongst South Africans Award at the Human Rights Summit from the Disability Alliance (SADA).
The award recognises Vodacom for being fully engaged and innovative in the process of accessible and affordable ICT in South Africa.
Another innovation is the HearZA app, which was developed in partnership with the University of Pretoria. HearZA is a smartphone-based national hearing test app enabling early detection of hearing problems.