Just imagine that you can’t hear and you can’t speak. What happens when there is an emergency? An earthquake, a fire, or any other natural or man made disaster?
The more than 21,000 people with hearing and speaking disabilities (deaf-mute) in Kazakhstan have to rely on other people’s help during an emergency situation – relatives or strangers using notes, which sometimes can cause a critical delay.
That’s why UNDP in Kazakhstan is designing a new mobile application for people with hearing disabilities that will connect them with emergency services.
Currently, emergency services in Kazakhstan are not equipped to respond to the special needs of people with hearing disabilities.
The UNDP team decided to come up with a technological solution – develop a mobile application so that people with hearing disabilities can send requests directly to emergency services.
Each phone corresponds with a specific person, and this database will be registered with the local emergency services. When a person with a disability has an emergency, he or she can press an “SOS” button on their mobile app, and a signal will go to the emergency services.
They will be able to see who is sending the signal (full name, age, blood type, diagnosis) and where the person is located.
The app also will provide information on legal aid, as this is also an important issue towards building inclusive society.
The mobile app is a bit of an experiment and we’re going to test it out in Astana City. Our main partners are The Astana Society of Deaf People (who are also the main users of the app) together with the city’s emergency services.
“It is very relevant for us to have this application. We’ve been experiencing a lot of discomfort associated with emergencies. Each of us has our own assistants, so we had always to depend on them. Even if my kid had a night fever, I had to contact my assistant, and wait for his help. We believe this application will ease that stress.”
Dzhangeldy Bekbotyrov, Chairman of Astana Society of Deaf people
Where we are now
The Android application is being developed by local developers, and so far the database includes the contacts of more than 40 people with disabilities, and the design is almost finished.
The main challenge is to engage more people with this experiment. Not every person with a disability has a smartphone or a clear understanding how this will work. So we’re going to have to invest some time and resources in reaching out to people to explain the basics of the app.
The ideal situation is that the app is a success and we’ll be able to present it to the Government of Kazakhstan as a ready-to-use solution – so that people with disabilities across the country will be able to use it in emergency situations.
That’s what we’re working towards, so we’re eager to learn from the experiences of others when it comes to testing, development, design or outreach for apps – especially those development for people with disabilities.
What can you share with us to help make our app a success?