News9th July 2015

Access Bedford - Inviting Pedius and Others to Share Knowledge & Information

Sharing information to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Bedford extends to visits from the Italians behind the Pedius app

by SL First Team

We’ve previously told you about the Pedius phone app that allows Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to make phone calls without any third party service (like TypeTalk, SignVideo, etc). Recently, the Pedius team travelled from their home in Italy over to the UK to give a presentation about their communication app.

 Invited by Access Bedford, an information day had been arranged on 13th June 2015 that focussed on the emergency services and access to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. The event was used to ensure Deaf and HoH people were aware about the different ways of contacting the emergency services and also gave them the chance to check that they are registered with the service to be able to contact them via text message. Access Bedford told us the event was setup, "because it was clear that many of our local Deaf community did not understand how to register their phone or how to send emergency texts. The emergency services also did not seem to understand the extent of the communication barriers in those cases." They also had the fantastic idea to agree with the Police control room that the deaf attendees could send 'fake' emergency texts that day so they could see the replies that came through and the kind of information the 999 centre would need. From this, they were able to identify some problematic uses of English and feed that back to the control room.

It was at this event that Pedius were invited to attend to talk to the attendees about their app and explain how it allows users to make phone calls directly to any hearing person. The hearing person doesn’t need to use any app or special software either, which makes it simple and easy to use for anyone. The deaf user just needs to dial the number via the Pedius app and type into the text box on the screen of their phone/tablet. The Pedius system then uses an automatic voice that speaks these words to the hearing caller and when they respond the system automatically converts their spoken words into on-screen text to allow both people to communicate more easily.

We got in touch with Access Bedford to ask them about what they thought of the event and the presentation by Pedius. In response we were told, "Although it's an app for Deaf people, the creators didn't sign but were very prepared to demonstrate everything visually. We had interpreters there anyway to be grabbed when needed! It is so simple compared to NGT to download and use but there are some issues with speech recognition and getting the hang of identifying a message to introduce the Pedius call before the Deaf person start texting."

After the event, one of the attendees, Ms Welland said she had, “used Pedius for the first time, it worked! Booked myself and kids a dentist appointment.  Go on, try it. Be brave. It's much better than type talk service. A very happy mummy!” Access Bedford also added, "Everyone was very impressed with the app and the people and seemed to like it but I think it takes a while for new things to become everyday things so we will keep mentioning it and encouraging people to try it out."

Access Bedford was set up in 2013 by four ladies (two Deaf, two hearing) with an aim to make Bedford more accessible to the D/deaf and HoH communities in their area. Over recent months they’ve organised a range of other events including a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event where D/deaf people got to meet their candidates in the national election and also a ‘Booktastic’ event at the University of Bedfordshire. They also create monthly newsletters with information for local people to share information and tell people what’s coming up in the area.

We asked them about any other events that are coming up over the next few months and here's what they've currently got planned, although some are still in the early planning stages:

  • Education Conference on 26th September with presentations from NDCS and DCAL.
  • Deaf Information Day 14th November - details not confirmed but we are planning to focus on new technology.
  • Deaf Ball 28th November
  • Second Emergency Text day February 27th (tbc)
  • Bedford Disabled Access Day 12th March (very exciting but not confirmed yet - meetings taking place over the next month)
  • Health Conference 2016 (tbc)

If you'd like to try out the Pedius app for yourself, you can check out our getting started guide, or if you'd like more information about Access Bedford then you can have a look at their website.

Article by SL First Team

posted in Community / News

9th July 2015