Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Mobile application allowing deaf people to make phone calls without an interpreter

Pedius is an Italian social enterprise founded in 2013 as a 24/7 communication service that allows the deaf and hard of hearing to make phone calls. With the help of voice recognition software and other technologies, customers can have real-time conversations when they need to call service companies, book a table at their favorite restaurant, or talk to their doctor. From its initial launch in Italy, Pedius has expanded to many countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“You have changed the life of my deaf son, who is 17. It was one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received!”

Mother of a beneficiary
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Mobile application allowing deaf people to make phone calls without an interpreter
Organisation:Pedius
Country
of Implementation
Italy, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Pedius had 15,000 users by mid-2017.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Many existing services are generally only reachable by phone, hence they are not available to the deaf and hard of hearing. Current, phone relay services for the deaf require an intermediary or interpreter, which can become very costly for the agencies that support these relay services and often is not available 24/7.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Pedius is the first relay service for deaf people that does not require an interpreter. Users type or speak their message into their iPhone or Android device and Pedius sends it to the contact they choose, using either the user’s own voice or an automated voice through speech synthesis. In real-time, users read the written translation of the recipient’s answer through Pedius’s voice recognition software on the display of their device.
A person working in the road assistance services communicating with a deaf person using the Pedius application.The ease of adoption of the service for partner companies is one of the most important innovative aspects. Companies do not need to install any new hardware/software within existing switchboards, or modify current processes in any way. The operator can answer a Pedius call as any other and talk normally.

Starting with TIM Ventures (Telecom Italia Mobile, a mobile telephone service provider, one of the companies that funded the project), other companies such as BNL (Banco Nazionale di Lavoro of the international banking group BNP Paribas) and AXA Assistance Italia Group (a provider of personal, vehicle, property, and legal assistance) have decided to make their services accessible through the implementation of Pedius in their infrastructure. These cooperations have helped the service to grow and enable new features.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

Beyond everyday use, Pedius has created synergies with municipalities such as Rome and with local police in Andria, Prato, Trieste, and elsewhere. Since the system can be embedded into any infrastructure, it has a high potential for contined growth. A person with hearing impairments using the Pedius application to ask for help from the road assistance.In 2014, Pedius contributed to writing the Law on Innovative Startups at Social Vocation, thus paving the way for other social innovators. The company is also working with major telecommunication companies to create a standard in the industry that can be easily implemented in other countries.
Pedius is funded by businesses such as TIM Ventures, the Italian holding company Sistema Investimenti, Embed Capital (an enterprise specialized in funding start-ups) as well as the Italian venture capital firms Principia SGR and Invitalia Ventures. In 2014, Pedius received initial funding of 410,000 Euro and an additional 1.4 million Euro during a second funding round in 2016.
CONTACT

Mr. Lorenzo DI CIACCIO
lorenzo@pedius.org
www.pedius.org

FACTSHEET

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