Globally there are about 466 million people who have a ‘disabling’ hearing loss, that is over 5% of the entire population. 

Unfortunately, even with statistics such as these, there is no consistency in services offered to those living with Deafness. This significantly limits important aspects of everyday life such as privacy, independence, and even education. This not only affects the Deaf individuals but also the companies because they may not be fully utilizing the talents and the possible contribution due to communication barriers.

This is something that Lorenzo Di Ciaccio became aware of in 2013. He was watching a news feature about a deaf man that had been into a car accident and wasn’t able to call an ambulance. Lorenzo thought for himself “What kind of world do we live in, that we can send a rocket to the moon and yet there is no way to let a Deaf person place a phone call if they need? Shortly thereafter, he started Pedius.

Pedius is an app that lets deaf people have phone calls by transforming written text to spoken language for the person in the other end. The objective is not only to supply, but also support the freedom and reliance a smartphone offers to any other person.

On a technical level, the application is highly sophisticated, using advanced speech recognition and voice synthesis technologies. The user has the option to text their message independently or choose from a list of pre-written messages which results in a synthetic voice during the call to the receiving end. It is equally available for both Android or iOS users and does not require both parties to use the service during a call.

One of the first steps after Pedius was founded was participating in the Vertical program in 2015. Samsung, in collaboration with Vertical, provided mentoring and coaching for the Pedius team’s business model, initiatives, and support for regions outside of Italy.

Since 2013, Pedius has enabled more than 20.000 users in 7 different languages to make their first phone call. Do you want to know more about Pedius or try out their solution? Go to their webpage to get all the juicy stuff.

We’ve asked one of the users to share his story:

“My name is Gabriele and I am Deaf. One night, I was driving home by myself and was involved in a car accident. Normally when one has an accident, they exchange information with the other driver. This was not my case. Once the other driver discovered I was Deaf, he left me stranded on the side of the road without any means of communication. My only option was to wait patiently until somebody passed by. Scenarios such as these were my biggest fear. Now with Pedius, I do not have to rely on anything or anyone other than the comfort of my mobile smartphone. I have the privacy and freedom of a normal phone call. Pedius’ use of advanced speech recognition technologies has made an incredible impact for those it has reached in the Deaf community, especially myself. In today’s world, every person relies on their mobile phone and for the first time I am able to do the same. I am able to have independence with just an application. My only wish for Pedius’ growth is the ability to keep improving technologies, expand as far and wide as possible, and keep adding services to help people like me.”

“We cannot forget the existence of a population that cannot make phone calls. Thanks to Pedius HPE can create new possibilities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals… Pedius is a necessity, not an option.”

“Until a short time ago, the deaf were considered “undervalued” and discriminated within the market. Now, thanks to Pedius, the companies can understand the real potential these people have and they are opening up to a new market perspective that includes everybody, due to the fact that they can now work as efficiently as a hearing person.”

From Pedius: We see accessibility as an opportunity. Most of our work today is to prove that an accessible workplace is not only empowering people with disability but is unleashing new potential and a new source of inspiration for all. This should be the rule of the technology, serving the diversity to the people and let them get inspired. The majority of  Pedius’ goals are very much aligned to that of the United Nations: Pedius works to reduce inequalities, support work inclusion, and provide a tool that can improve the quality of life of an aging population all through innovative technology.

A lot of services are only accessible by phone, and communication barriers are often limiting the freedom for the person that can’t hear. Using Pedius technology we are able to give back independence and freedom to communicate. Imaging the possibility of integrating Samsung technology we could impact even more who are not yet able to live with the benefits technology provides.

We are seeking startups solving global societal challenges through technology. Here at Vertical, we are all about supporting brilliant ideas and brilliant people to change the world. Our core focus is in areas where technology can improve the quality of people’s lives in the most significant ways, such as wellbeing, health, closing the gap when it comes to accessibility and diversity. We are offering startups a tailor-made part-time program for validating their product/solution, making their service offering more compelling, strengthening go-to-market strategy with a help of Samsung technology, as well as developing a demo with Samsung. The application form is always open. Learn more about how to apply and how to get support here.