“I realised how isolated he was at work, so I started learning sign language to be able to talk to him properly,” she says. It made her understand the daily frustrations facing people who cannot hear and she wanted to do something about it. An MA focused on accessible product design at Ulster university gave her the idea for TapSOS, an app that sends users’ location and medical history to the fire, police, ambulance services and coastguard at the tap of a few buttons.
“I came up with this idea with the deaf community in mind, but actually it is potentially life-saving for lots of other people who cannot speak to 999 operators,” says Hume. “Anyone with breathing difficulties, allergies, in situations of domestic abuse or being held against their will can now call for help without having to talk.”
The app is due to be approved for integration into BT’s emergency service network this month and by September all 999 UK operators will be able to receive emergency alerts from TapSOS, with users able to download and use the app from September. The simplicity, likely reach and potential to save lives made it the digital health winner at this year’s Tech4Good awards announced on Tuesday.