Loud and clear: Rethinking service design in Georgia

112 is one of the most dialled phone numbers in Georgia. In 2013 alone, over 8 million of emergency calls were made to this national response hotline. Their website lists emergency services available for children, with a video tour, and frequently asked questions for those who may need immediate help.

They provide everything -except for one glaring exception: those who cannot hear or speak.  This is because 112 is only reachable through a voice call. Those living with speech or hearing impairments simply don’t have the option.

While Georgia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities this year , a great deal remains to ensure the respect to their rights, and access to basic social services, such as education, healthcare, emergency assistance.

Maya Metonidze, from the Union of Deaf, says that the access to emergency services is just one of many problems faced by people with speech and hearing impairments in Georgia.  

“Their guardians fear leaving them alone: what if fire starts? They can’t even call for help.”

To change this, 112 is teaming up with UNDP in Georgia and the Swedish Government to prepare a new service design – one that is truly universal for the different segments of Georgian society.

Earlier this year, the 112 team travelled to Ireland to examine how new technology can make emergency services more accessible for the hearing and speech impaired.

This will be now followed by a three-day design thinking workshop on 26-28 September that will gather the stakeholders: people with disabilities, tech specialists and civil society organizations.

Participants will step-by-step follow the simulation exercise of an emergency situation: starting from the initial call to the service delivery, in order to re-think how we may improve their experience.

“We thrive to make 112 accessible for everyone in Georgia. And who can give better insights other than people for whom this service is designed for?” says Tea Gzirishvili, Deputy Head of 112.

“I look forward to this meeting. It’s exciting to know that our concerns will be heard and that our opinion matters,” says workshop participant, Amiran Batatunashvili, the President of the Union of Deaf .

And it’s opinions like Amiran’s that matter the most. It’s our jobs to make sure that their voices are heard.

September 2014

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