Regarding the lack of accessibility of information and communication in International Sign of the EU’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
20 March 2020
On the 7th of February, EUD participated in a workshop organised by the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) on the European emergency number 112 and the electronic communications code directive.
This European directive, a law which is being revised at the moment, aims, among other things, at making 112 accessible for persons with disabilities, which is especially relevant for deaf and hard of hearing persons.
The workshop was organised close to the European 112 Day, which takes place on the 11th of February every year, to raise awareness of the European emergency number and the ongoing negotiations regarding the directive.
EUD’s project officer, Frankie Picron, was one of the speakers during the event, presenting how to make emergency services accessible for deaf and hard of hearing persons. EUD aims at advocating for a binding reference to total conversation in the directive, which means the possibility for users to choose from a variety of technological options, such as real-time-text or the use of video communication methods to contact emergency services in sign language From our point of view, fully accessible multi-channel emergency services are not only crucial for persons with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing persons, but for everybody who could find himself/herself without the capacity to hear or speak after an accident or a trauma for example, meaning that they have the potential to save numerous lives. He also introduced the public to the NEXES project in which EUD participates. NEXES aims at researching, testing and validating the promising integration of IP-based communication technologies and interoperability within the next generation emergency services, to make them more effective, performant and accessible.
Various other topics were discussed by a variety of speakers, including new technological advances, such as advanced mobile location (AML). AML is a technology that already exists in android smartphones. It allows the phone, after an emergency call to 112 has been placed from this phone, to automatically send a text message with the coordinates of the caller to the emergency service. This would allow emergency services to locate a person in need a lot quicker, as the margin of error is significantly reduced compared to current technology. However, only a few countries in Europe have created the possibility for their emergency services to receive, analyse and use these text messages. EUD believes that it is crucial to include a reference to this type of technology into the legislation, making it compulsory for Member States to equip their emergency services to use such technology, as a shortened response time by emergency services could save many lives. We also will aim to ensure that it is a free and accessible mainstream service for persons with disabilities as well.
EUD is currently working on draft amendments to the directive, which will aim at including the above-mentioned as well as other elements in the directive. They will be published soon according to the time-table of the negotiations in the European Parliament and the Council.
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