First call centre for the hearing disabled

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In an aim to close the "digital gap" in Chile, the Chilenter Foundation has strived since 2002 to create access to information technology for under-resourced sectors, thus contributing to education and social enterprise. The organisation has combined forces with the National Disability Service to design a pioneer project called Volta, defined as an accessible communication service for the hearing disabled.

This accessible Call Centre will use the internet phone service, Skype, which allows for video calling. "How does a deaf person ring for a pizza? How can you ask for a doctor's appointment on the health service network at your local health centre? And what do you do in a medical emergency?" All these and more questions affecting what are normally phone-related procedures, said Mauricio Sandoval, head of Training and Projects for the Chilenter Foundation, will be dealt with at the call centre by a sign language expert who will receive the call and put into motion the mechanisms for dealing with the request.

The scheme seeks to boost the independence of the hearing disabled by providing an intermediary with the hearing world. A pilot scheme was run throughout August 2013 by deaf volunteers. "The idea is that, hopefully, this experience will lead to a state policy to maintain a permanent space through which people with different levels of disability can integrate into society and reduce their high levels of dependency," assured Sandoval.