Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
20 May 2020
MCIT Launches AI-Powered COVID-19 Automated Testing Service for PwDs

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has met with Avaya Egypt and Libya Country Manager Ahmed Fayed and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Egypt Randa Aboul-Hosn.

They witnessed the launching of an automated testing service of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) symptoms through an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbot that enables sign-language based interaction, for deaf and hard of hearing people, available through Wasel mobile application and Tamkeen website.

This comes as part of the efforts of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to support the State’s plan for mitigating COVID-19 challenges, and in light of its strategy of using ICT to build a more inclusive society. The meeting was attended by the Director of Social Responsibility and Community Services at MCIT Noha Rabie.

Talaat stated that launching the service comes within the framework of the cooperation between MCIT, UNDP and Avaya, for raising community health awareness of COVID-19 symptoms among deaf and hard of hearing people, utilizing smart technologies. He added that this first of its kind service in the Arab World and Africa comes in addition to the service of answering hard of hearing people’s inquiries on COVID-19, one of MCIT activities for reaching all segments of society, provide technical support to face the current crisis and keep citizens safe.

For her part, Aboul-Hosn stressed the importance of using ICT solutions  and smart technologies to reach the Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. The partnership with MCIT and Avaya has successfully materialized into an easy-to-use solution, carefully designed to help deaf and hard of hearing people cope with the challenges imposed by the ongoing pandemic, added Aboul-Hosn.

Fayed said that the new service reflects the great and remarkable attention that Egypt gives to all segments of society, especially during this critical time. He added that Avaya is proud that MCIT and UNDP trust in its potential to provide the service that utilizes technology to protect the society.

This step reflects how keen both Egypt and UNDP are to embrace all segments of society, provide effective digital tools to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect the community at large.

It is worth mentioning that MCIT launched the National Relay Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, in implementation of the presidential initiative for including and empowering PwDs using ICT. The Center is one of a kind in the Arab World, the Middle East and Africa. It provides integrated technological solutions and serves as a call center connecting the persons with hearing and speech impairments with emergency services, like the ambulance, police emergency and firefighting.

The Center launched a service for answering deaf and hard of hearing people’s inquiries on COVID-19, through Wasel application. The service is available 24/7, including providing support to those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, through connecting them to the responsible government agency to receive the necessary care.

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