Nearly one billion people, that is, 15% of the population of the planet live with various types of disabilities and face severe challenges in their daily life. One of these challenges is undoubtedly isolation, not least digital isolation. And what is especially important during these challenging times of pandemic, as the United Nations leader Antonio Guterres put it, the 1 billion people of the world living with disabilities are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus. This means that they need extra support for prevention and treatment of COVID-19, which implies better access to communication. The situation may vary across the globe: while some countries are able to design and implement action plans to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and increase the level of accessibility of digital services, in most countries the problem of a physical disability of individuals is aggravated by the absence or insufficiency of infrastructure in the economies that hinders the state and the market players from providing an inclusive environment where all members of society could be involved in meaningful economic and social activity. This leads to a number of social issues such as disability-based inequality. Moreover, as stated by WHO, “the number of people with disabilities is increasing because of the aging of the population and the increase of chronic diseases”.
Thanks to the combined efforts of people with disabilities in the first place, caregivers, patient and support organizations, doctors, medical institutions and global organizations such as WHO etc., global awareness of the cause has risen significantly over the recent years. Increasing demand for better support has led to increasing supply: there are numerous mobile applications designed to facilitate communication of people with various disabilities, for instance, solutions for visually impaired travelers or tools for the hearing-impaired.
Perhaps, now the time has come to unite the efforts and put forward an idea of a global platform for people with all types of disabilities providing all the range of necessary services.
GLEOSS (Global Equal Opportunities Social Services) is an initiative launched in 2017 by Mr. Akif Gilalov, founder and chairman of World’s Global Telecom (WGT) and founder of the IGO United Religions established in 2017. Its mission is to create a global digital service ecosystem designed to serve the needs of people who are less able to actively engage in social and economic activities because of physical deficiencies caused by illness, age or other circumstances.
GLEOSS aims to provide one global platform for all people with disabilities, uniting advanced digital services and traditional telecommunications on national and global levels. Unlike the existing digital services and communications applications, GLEOSS is supported by mobile telecommunications technology and aims to unite people with all types of disabilities and to provide them with all the spectrum of services, from a messenger to a “SOS button“.
Thus, for the first time in the world, this project is specifically designed to provide the best access to digital services for more than 1 billion people with disabilities – also helping 2 billion people who take care of them, either personally or professionally. People with disabilities will have an opportunity to communicate easily and, in this way, to participate fully in the economic and social activities of the globalized world, regardless of their type of disability and geographical location.
Supported by AI and available on iOS, Android and Smart TV, GLEOSS also provides a cloud service platform comprising various applications operating under one ID for assisted communication and translation, socialization, collaborative travel, medical assistance, assisted shopping, education, and banking. Applications such as “Connect”, “Travel”, “Assistance”, and “Buy” are available for the user.
“Connect”, messenger with a unique set of functions for people with different types of disabilities, enables conference calls between, for example, a blind person and a deaf person and an assistant, and they may not even speak the same language – real-time text to speech conversion and simultaneous translation service are there to help. This allows to integrate a potential user into work, study and social networks despite limited abilities.
The “Travel” function is designed to facilitate the user’s journey from A to B demonstrating an optimized route. Cooperation with various travel platforms facilitates the process of booking taxis, hotels, flight tickets, as well as finding like-minded companions.
GLEOSS “Assistance” developed in cooperation with international partners represents a highly efficient caring system for people with disabilities consisting of optimal processes and care protocols, services to provide necessary equipment and resources, access to medicine and telemedicine with a SOS button, and a space to share experiences.
Finally, the application “Buy” allows people with disabilities to have a full-fledged shopping experience through its features of price comparison, sponsored purchases and AI recommendations.
The GLEOSS initiative also includes devices such as GLEOSS Smart Home Assistant with unique features designed to support people with disabilities.
And here comes a real breakthrough: an active member of the International Telecommunication Union and one of the main technological pillars supporting the GLEOSS project, WGT initiated creation of a new humanitarian global country code. On a trial country code, WGT successfully tested the GLEOSS platform concept within 3 mobile networks in 5 countries, proving the possibility to provide deaf or hearing-impaired persons or persons with impaired speech with a global cross-border communication access. A person with disability in any country can use any available relay service of any country – this is the fundamental innovation liberating persons with disabilities from being locked in on their national relay infrastructure, which in most countries does not even exist. GLEOSS trials demonstrated that WGT’s approach is valid and that the concept is ready to be implemented.
The GLEOSS initiative and the results of the trials were presented by the WGT at the International Telecommunication Union. Gradually the necessity to create a new humanitarian country code to meet the needs of people with disabilities has been recognized by UK, US, Canada and other ITU member states. As a result, ITU officially announced its work on the humanitarian country code with an objective to complete the numbering framework for the project by the end of 2021.
WGT is leading the effort to develop new standards for global access to assistive telecommunications through the integration of number-based relay services and IP-based multimedia assistive conferencing services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Meet and others. The persons with disabilities should be able, with the help of GLEOSS platform, to dial into a conference room via their humanitarian global numbers from any mobile phone, even in roaming or without internet access, and participate in conversation for several hours, if necessary, using assistance and without getting a ruining invoice. In the absence of such facilities, remote collaboration, which has become an integral part of almost any professional activity during the pandemic, remains non-inclusive for persons with disabilities. GLEOSS Initiative resolves this problem and enables any person with disability to communicate to anyone using assistance of any service provider of their choice.
The GLEOSS architecture gives space for technological cooperation with national mobile operators. National telecommunications providers can support GLEOSS global number on their national sim-cards, which would enable longer yet affordable mobile calls between GLEOSS subscribers with disabilities across the globe. A global 13-digit mobile number on a user’s national mobile operator’s SIM card will be an identifier for accessing the GLEOSS global service platform – for all people with disabilities.
In this way, GLEOSS makes unique real-time communication services affordable for all, and national telecommunications networks are welcome to join the initiative as supplementary value-added service partners – in strict compliance with national legislation in all countries of operation.
GLEOSS is open for collaboration and invites partners to join the project. One of the strong advantages of GLEOSS initiative is its transparent and efficient sustainable economic model which allows national mobile operators to participate in the project without any risk to their domestic and international revenues and margins.
GLEOSS project is managed by a private Luxembourg-based legal entity. It will operate as a social enterprise and form a foundation to serve the community of as many people with disabilities as possible. Joint efforts in cooperation with mobile networks, software and hardware companies, specialized care organizations and medical and other support organizations will help make optimal use of existing worldwide telecommunication infrastructures and create a common platform accessible to new partners.
GLEOSS is committed to humanitarian cooperation at national and global level instead of competition and guarantees the highest standards of management, focusing on the needs and safety of people with disabilities.
GLEOSS is preparing to kick-start the initiative in several countries within 1-2 years aiming to have 200 million people with disabilities using the platform worldwide in 2 years after launch. So, there is a strong hope to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities in the spirit of global cooperation, and the era of their digital isolation may finally come to an end.