Hong Kong mobile communications operator csl has formed a partnership with Italian social enterprise Pedius to locally launch a phone call app for the deaf.

The Pedius app enables people with hearing difficulties to make phone calls through speech recognition and voice synthesis tools, both Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies. Users of the app can call both fixed-line and mobile numbers to receive and make calls. Officially launching in September Hong Kong marks Pedius’ first stride into Asia, with an aim for further regional expansion.

The partnership will provide the app for free to csl customers until the end of the year, with any local mobile data charges incurred by the app being waived.

Bruce Lam, CMO of CSL Mobile commented, “We truly believe the partnership with Pedius will be of huge benefit to those of our customers with hearing difficulties and represents a healthy departure from conventional mobile communications.”

When users make a call through the Pedius app, they can type a text message that will then be translated to speech in real-time. This means that the recipient can ‘hear’ what the hearing-impaired user is expressing. Conversely, the recipients’ spoken responses will also be immediately translated into transmitted text so both users can converse and comprehend each other easily.

“By integrating this groundbreaking technology into the telephone service, the app will greatly enhance the barrier-free communication environment in daily life and encourage local inclusion,” said Lorenzo Di Ciaccio, founder of Pedius.