Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 277–290 | Cite as

SOSPhone: a mobile application for emergency calls

  • Hugo Paredes
  • Benjamim Fonseca
  • Miriam Cabo
  • Tania Pereira
  • Filipe Fernandes
Long paper


The general adoption of mobile devices and its wide network coverage made it possible to make emergency calls virtually everywhere, even in the absence of a valid contact. However, there is still generally the need for audio connection. This restriction is a problem for deaf people, but also for the elderly and people without disabilities who face sudden situations where speech is hard to articulate. In this context, this paper presents SOSPhone, a prototype of a mobile application that was developed to enable users to make emergency calls using an iconographic touch interface running in a touchscreen mobile device. The prototype implements the client-side of the application and was demonstrated and evaluated by a large number of users, including people without any disability, emergency services' professionals and deaf people. This paper describes the SOSPhone prototype and presents the results of the interface evaluation process, which is important to validate the main client-side interaction and architectural principles in order to proceed with the integration with each specific national emergency services' platform.


Mobile accessibility Emergency call Iconographic interface Short message service Deaf Elderly Panic situations 



The authors of this paper would like to thank David Fonseca, a deaf engineer who was an enthusiastic user and provided important help in defining some of the application requirements and validating the presented approach from a deaf perspective. Also crucial was the contribution of several entities, by facilitating visits to emergency control centers and interviews with several professionals: the South Emergency Control Center (“Centro Operacional Sul do serviço”), the Portuguese National Institute for Medical Emergency (INEM—“Instituto Nacional de Emergência Médica”), the Vila Real Commander of the Portuguese National Authority for Civil Protection (ANPC—“Autoridade Nacional de Proteção Civil”) and the Emergency Room professionals of the Vila Real Hospital (CHTMAD—“Centro Hospitalar de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro”).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugo Paredes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benjamim Fonseca
    • 1
    • 2
  • Miriam Cabo
    • 2
  • Tania Pereira
    • 2
  • Filipe Fernandes
    • 2
  1. 1.INESC Technology and Science (INESC TEC)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto DouroVila RealPortugal

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