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Vodacom debuts SMS service for hearing impaired

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Vodacom has launched South Africa’s first SMS Emergency Service for deaf, hearing and speech impaired customers.

The Vodacom 082 112 SMS Emergency Service is free and provided for Vodacom Prepaid, Contract and Top Up customers who are Deaf, hearing and speech impaired.

The service addresses a serious need that currently exists in the market. Previously deaf and hearing impaired persons were unable to contact an emergency service centre, as it could only be accessed via voice calls.

The new Vodacom 082 112 SMS Emergency Service now provides these customers with the option to request emergency services such as police, fire and ambulance services by sending an SMS to 082 112.  In order to use this new service, customers need only register their details by sending an SMS to 082 112.

Karen Smit, Vodacom Principal Specialist for Specific Needs, says that this is a first for South Africa and the continent and continues on Vodacom’s promise to provide peace of mind for deaf and hearing impaired persons.

“We are confident that this initiative will assist in promoting the ability to communicate for deaf and hearing impaired customers through digital inclusion as they can now request help should they experience an emergency situation. Vodacom is committed to adding value and we are excited to be able to offer this service to some of our more vulnerable customers.”

Vodacom has been providing accessible products and services to customers with disabilities since 2004. The Specific Needs division has received a number of accolades including the Change Agents and Disability Champion amongst South Africans Award at the Human Rights Summit from the Disability Alliance (SADA). This award recognises Vodacom for being fully engaged and innovative in the process of accessible and affordable ICT in South Africa.

As part of the group’s CARE initiative and inclusion strategy, Vodacom has over the years developed a number of products and revamped its service models to cater for the disability and elderly segment of the market. Some of the targeted products and specialists services offered on the network include; a device repair priority process, easy to use devices with a big keypad and inclusive design smartphones. The device repair priority process enables disabled customers to have their devices repaired in a shorter period of time. The phones with a big keypad cater for the elderly and allows them to easily see the keypad and words when typing. A large range of inclusive design electronic devices have built-in text-to-speech software that makes them accessible to visually impaired persons.

Another innovation is the HearZA app which was developed in partnership with the University of Pretoria. HearZA is a smartphone-based national hearing test app. The app helps with early detection of hearing problems which is essential in mitigating possible hearing losses. Vodacom further meets the needs of deaf and hearing impaired customers by providing them with special contract phone deals that consist of data and SMS, without minutes.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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