One of the many benefits of being in a technological era, is having to enjoy the benefits of each design released for use by the people. Although, this excitement can lead to depression when one is unable to fully utilize this technology as it is meant to be used in order to make their lives easier.

For most Deaf, Hearing and Speech impaired users of mobile devices in South Africa, the challenges with using the functions that are dependent on their disadvantaged sense has usually been an issue, until now.

Telecommunications service provider, Vodacom has just recently launched a short message service (SMS) emergency service that has been designed for people with these disadvantages. This service has been made available for subscribers to the service provider who are disadvantaged and on the prepaid, contract and top-up bundles. The SMS service is free for these users.

The customers can now request for emergency services from their mobile phones by sending an SMS to 082 112. They are provided with the option of requesting either the services of the police, fire station or ambulance in case of emergencies.

Vice Principal Specialist for Specific Needs, Vodacom, Karen Smith said “We are confident that this initiative will assist in promoting the ability to communicate for Deaf and hearing-impaired customers through digital inclusion as they can now request help should they experience an emergency situation”. Adding that the initiative was in line with Vodacom’s stand to provide a digital society that includes all those who are physically challenged.

Another innovation by the telecommunications company in partnership with the University of Pretoria is the HearZA app which is a smartphone-based app usable nationwide to test and record early detections in hearing problems.