Telefónica Innovation and Design has piloted a solution that allows deaf people across Granada and Andalusia to communicate with friends, family and public services using a video phone.

The innovation arm of Spanish telecoms firm Telefónica has developed the new technology, which provides people who are deaf of suffer speech problems with a sign-language video conferencing system.

The system works by using a video phone to connect the user to a remote interpretation call centre, where workers can translate the users’ signed request before phoning the person that they need to contact and relaying the information to them.

Luis Carlos Fernández González, director of Telefónica research and design at the Granada facility, told E-Health Europe: “Over this national network we can connect specific video call centres to locate sign language interpreters.

“When someone needs to make contact with a public service the deaf people dial a call centre and ask them to make the connection. It’s as simple as that”

The pilot phase is currently being trialled with around 100 users in Spain as part of a collaborative agreement between the Regional Government of Andalusia and the Andulsian Foundation for Accessibility and for the Deaf.

González added: “At the moment we are working with the city halls, the banks and Le Renfe [train services] to have them put in specific telephones so that people can make contact with the call centre and the interpreter, if they need to book a taxi or a train ticket, for example. We are working to bridge the gap for people in all kinds of situation.”

The standard video conference handset costs €200 and can receive and make both voice calls and video telephone. The service can also be accessed using a mobile phone that has 3G and video conferencing technology.

González added that the project is ready to be rolled out on a much wider scale.

“Really it’s no longer a pilot, it is deployed over a network so if we want to deploy it in 100,000 homes we can, we don’t have to put a router in, the technology is already there.”