New emergency app launched for the hearing impaired

INNOVATION: The Conexu Foundation's Rachel McKay showcases the app.

INNOVATION: The Conexu Foundation's Rachel McKay showcases the app.

A NEW app that provides hearing impaired people with emergency updates - including bushfire updates - was launched at Big Hill on Monday.

Emergency Management Victoria and the Conexu Foundation - a not-for-profit organisation that provides services for deaf people - launched the app to coincide with Fire Action Week 2014.

The app shares text-based public information, such as traffic updates, to keep deaf or hearing impaired people informed.

The app was first developed in 2011 under a different name - OpenMi Silent Tweets - but was relaunched under the name OpenAccess Alerts to include emergency updates.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the app was a fantastic initiative.

"We are pleased to be able to support Conexu by linking our emergency services channels to the OpenAccess Alerts app so that emergency information and warnings can be made more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing," he said.

"It's important for everyone in our communities to have equal access to information - in times of emergency these updates can be lifesaving."

Conexu Foundation chief strategy officer Rachel McKay said the app tracked users through a GPS and provided them with public information announcements within their vicinity.

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