Accessibility is a right.
How many times has my phone rang when I am unfamiliar with this gadget that everyone is now accustomed to ? I could not take the call because I did not understand what was displayed on the handset.
Sophie is deaf. For her, taking a call has always been a challenge.
Her condition raises a major question: is connectivity a right?
In the age of hyper-digitisation, this is a problem that arises everywhere in the world. Disabilities mean people can’t make full use of telecommunication and new technologies, yet they are very widespread. To be more precise, in Sophie's case, the question asked is more about the use of the telephone for the deaf and hard of hearing.
At the end of 2018, France expressed its willingness to move towards greater accessibility and a right to connectivity. At least two points were taken into consideration: the accessibility of customer services and the implementation of accessible communications solutions.
Firstly, from October 8, 2018, companies with more than 250 million in revenue must provide a telephone accessibility service as part of their customer service.
On the other hand, operators of electronic communication solutions have been urged to implement an accessible telephony solution. Thanks to the support of the French Telecommunications Federation, the main operators have converged to finance a great project: the "Roger Voice" startup.
It took a long time!
RogerVoice is an application that allows you to communicate with an interlocutor in two ways: either by text transcription of the voice or by using a sign language interpreter (via a video). A deaf or hard of hearing client can therefore contact a customer service representative and see the counsellor's words in writing (or ask help from an interpreter).
Olivier Jeannel decided to launch RogerVoice in 2011. Deaf since he was 2 years old, he was working for Orange at the time (the leading French operator) and paradoxically could not make calls himself. 2011 was the year Siri was released, a revolution that made Olivier realise that speech recognition could change the game.
Could speech recognition allow him call anywhere in the world?
Could it allow him make an appointment with his dentist without asking for help from his girlfriend?
The answer took seven years to come, but it was satisfactory. In 2018, everything is smooth. Together with the biggest French operators, Olivier and RogerVoice will now take up the challenge of making telephony accessible to 500,000 deaf people in France. Of course, Olivier has not overlooked the rest of the world. At the moment though, his attention is focused on Canada.
It is worth noting that the rest of the world will not be left out. Everywhere, solutions spring up and companies provide new accessible technologies such as Pedius in the United Kingdom or AvaScribe throughout Western Europe.
On the other hand, Sophie welcomes RogerVoice on her blog (where she writes about the challenges of a hard of hearing woman's life) and does not hesitate to say how the application has "changed her life".