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OTO-Emergency Reporting System for Deaf

UI/UX and Assistive Technology


Oto is a product enabling those who cannot effectively communicate to report and reach out for help during an emergency while considering factors such as cognitive capability during stressful situations. OTO is a conceptual assistive technology device aimed to equitize.

12 weeks

Arnav Gupta
Raghav Byala
Akshita Mishra

Team OTO

Formed in the midst of the pandemic, the name for the team, OTO, was inspired by the Japanese word for "sound". My role in the team comprised secondary research, problem identification, contextual inquiry, user flow, and the user experience.


How India defines deafness

Deafness refers to the complete loss of hearing ability in one or two ears. The cases in this category will be those having a hearing loss of 60 dB or more in the better ear for a conversational range of frequencies.`

How do they communicate

Indian Sign Language

In the 2000s, the Indian Hard of Hearing community advocated for an institute focused on ISL teaching since then more and more population has started using ISL to communicate, but ISL comes with its fair share of problems.


Indian Emergency Response System

India reports millions of emergencies each year, here’s a breakdown of what they are-

A pan India solution?

In May of 2015, India took a bold step towards addressing the glaring issues in its emergency response system by adopting a single pan India emergency calling number- 112.

However, five years post its introduction, the helpline remains inactive in many states. Smartphone manufacturers mindlessly integrate 112 as their panic helpline feature in phones for these states, further giving rise to misuse and abuse.


Comparative Analysis

We created an online questionnaire to understand how able-bodied individuals respond to an emergency in contrast to the differently-abled population of India. Our sample size included both able-bodied participants and hard-of-hearing participants living in urban India.

Market Analysis

Upon delving deeper into the current emergency systems, we compared the traditional auditory-based system with the SOS features in smartphone devices. We arrived at the following observations.

Problem Statement

How can we help make emergency services in India more accessible for the deaf?


Solution Attributes


On analyzing the entire situation we came up with a large list of attributes, that felt relevant to the problem. On analyzing these further we narrowed down 5 extremely important attributes that would act as a base for our ideations and final solution. Following this, we assigned the attributes priority using the AHP Prioritization method.


Design Exploration

The approach that we adopted involved different tiers of control/functionality to the solution system proposed. This was done with the intention that it would avoid information overload and prevent users from getting help effectively and without panic.


A compact Pod that can be attached to anything as a keychain to go along with your everyday items. It categorizes emergencies into three types- Fire, Ambulance and Police while also providing means for the user to keep track of the response time of the dispatched emergencies.


Digital Approach

On receiving feedback from the first iteration and realizing the lacuna’s ourselves we decided to reword the Pod concept and create something less complicated for the pod, and enable a User to communicate necessities to the Emergency Responder from a digital outlet.



Building on what we already had, we came up with an application to help a deaf person report an emergency through a voice assistant to relay messages to a dispatcher.

User Scenario

System Flows

Reflecting Back

Looking back, here are some questions we felt we needed to answer to be able to make the project more concrete:

  • How will the dispatchers be informed about the context and intensity of the situation?


  • Will we reach enough of the deaf population if being literate is a prerequisite?


  • Does the OTO pod make things easier or more complex for the user?


  • Does a 2 tier control system work against or favor the user

Project Status

During the course of this project, many discoveries/insights have stopped us from putting our fingers down on one solution. Each time we’ve been close to agreeing on a great approach for the solution a small observation from a User Interview changes our opinion and we start back from scratch to understand/accommodate these new discoveries. Be it the literacy rates of the Indian Population, the cultural perception of Indians towards deaf/HH, or the urban-rural split of Indians, each insight has always compelled us to stop...take a step back and re-evaluate what it is that we’re doing.

We are currently in the process of interviewing deaf experts and gaining better knowledge of who it is that we’re designing for. Once we complete this third round of User Research we’ll be working towards a fresh perspective on the solution and testing it in the Indian deaf/HH community!

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