Sportello Voce per Sordi
Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The National Institute for Social Security (INPS) is the Italian State Body that provides to citizens, besides the various types of pensions and disability allowances, also such income-supporting performances as, for instance, unemployment and maternity benefits, family allowances, etc. The Inps archives have not included the entire Italian population, but only those citizens who, in their lifetime, have had some contact with Inps, for instance by applying for a disability grant. Based on this, the idea of providing a service dedicated to the deaf stemmed from this important consideration: In Italy there are approximately 5,000.000 hearing-impaired persons who communicate with each other mainly by using the Italian Sign Language. Of these 70,000 deaf citizens, only around 43,000 are included in the INPS archives and accordingly receive the communication allowance, though entitled to it. For which reasons are approximately 27,000 deaf Italian citizens not receiving the communication allowance? Studies undertaken have revealed that the approximately 27,000 deaf persons scattered across national soil who are not included in the INPS archives do not benefit from the communication allowance not because they refuse to exercise their rights, but rather because, due to communication problems, they are unable to manage, autonomously or with the assistance of Advisory Social Assistance Institutes/National Tax Assistance Centres (CAF), the bureaucratic aspects with INPS (e.g. application for disability or unemployment benefits or for family allowances, etc.) for acknowledging their disability and receiving adequate assistance from the Italian State.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution that has been found was to set up a counter dedicated to deaf persons (The Voice Counter (VC) and Virtual Voice Counter (VVC) staffed with people who speak the Italian Sign Language in order to provide services and assistance in the Italian Sign Language to all the Italian hearing-impaired INPS citizens, whether or not included in the INPS archives. In order to involve the deaf citizens already included in the INPS archives, a letter informing of the service was sent to their homes. To involve the citizens not yet included in the INPS archives, instead, the “community of deaf persons” was involved through the support and help of deaf employees who have made use of their personal contacts and of “word of mouth”. Two social information mechanisms that work well with deaf persons.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The SV and SVV for deaf persons are very useful to solve the bureaucratic problems deaf citizens face when dealing with INPS. It has moreover contributed to improving the economic condition of many deaf persons who, prior to the establishment of VC and VVC, did not use to receive the various allowances they were entitled to, such as the communication allowance, unemployment benefits or family allowances. The initiative has likewise improved relationships with the population category of deaf persons, to whom very little attention had until now been paid and who had always been waiting for a State-run service speaking their own language (Italian Sign Language). The initiative has been extremely useful for raising the level of professionalism of deaf employees, their sense of belonging and willingness to take part in the community life of INPS employees, thereby leaving behind the isolation that most of the times has characterized their attitude towards hearing persons. The initiative was launched in Rome two years ago and is now spreading nationwide. At present, 37 Voice counters have been opened in 12 different regions. The procedure for activating a new counter is the following: - Deaf employees are placed in a training course on Italian Sign Language enabling them to learn and manage: - the computer procedure specifically implemented for managing the archive - the so-called “immediate counter services” for the most common administrative practices - - use of “Skype for business” with webcam to manage the video chats of the Virtual Voice Counter and facilitate communication between all the employees, deaf or otherwise, working at the VC. It is worth highlighting, that prior to the “Voice Counter for the Deaf”, no deaf employee had ever been called upon to tackle counter activities; generally speaking the deaf employees, due to their communication difficulties, used to undertake marginal activities alone. Person in charge of the public relations office (URP), too, are placed in a training course aimed at additionally and especially teaching, besides video chat connections, the following: - - characteristics identifying the “community of deaf persons” , - - the basic elements of Italian Sign Language - An informational letter notifying deaf people of the service is sent home to them. The informational letter has been written and validated with the collaboration of 60 deaf citizens by consulting the “community of the deaf”. The text is basic. The letter sent to the users indicates a mailbox to which a deaf person might send his request for an appointment - The deaf employee, jointly with the person in charge of the public relations office (URP) schedules and manages the appointment - At the end of the appointment, the user is made to fill out a customer card for assessing the level of satisfaction with the service through scores ranging from 0 to 10. - To date, the score provided by deaf employees hovers around 9.8, together with words of appreciation for the activity and the activity of colleagues working therein. VIRTUAL VOICE COUNTER. - If the office that receives the deaf user has no deaf employee capable of assisting the users, the person in charge of the public relations office (URP) uses the webcam and “Skype for business” to establish a distance (virtual) connection with an office on national soil where a deaf employee provides due assistance as translator into Italian Sign Language and acts as intermediary with the deaf user. It accordingly often happens, for instance, that the user is in Perugia while the Italian Sign Language is in Ferrara.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The initiative is unique, original and entirely cost-free. Prior to the VC and the VVC, never were deaf users provided with the INPS and Italian Sign Language services in an organized and well-prepared fashion: deaf users were supplied with information and services through use of the lip movement language which, when unaccompanied by sound, would easily give rise to misunderstandings and resultant errors. The new manner of tackling the problem of understanding deaf people’s needs was to involve in the initiative equally deaf employees. This has made it possible: - To create acceptance by deaf citizens by overcoming their frequent mistrust - To create a process of professional development and more direct participation in the office activities by deaf employees who, prior the VC and VVC, carried out marginal and isolated activities. Other innovative elements have consisted in the following: - Consulting the “community of deaf citizens” to involve them in the divulgation of the initiative and in the trial phase as regards elaboration of the letter to send to users’ home addresses -. Using IT resources already available in INPS for purposes of distant virtual connections aimed at solving problems unable to be solved merely with office resources.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative has been implemented by Direzione Centrale Organizzazione Inps – Area Customer Care - Team “internal and external organizational problems associated with a disability condition and dissemination of a social security culture”. The population concerned consists of approximately 43,000 citizens who are INPS users and approximately 27,000 Italian citizens who are potential INPS users and are currently not receiving the benefits granted by the Italian State through INPS due to communication-related problems. At present, there are approximately 22,000 deaf Italian users making use of the service. The users increase the more other regions and other INPS offices are involved. Currently, 12 regions out of 20 are involved and 37 voice or virtual voice counters are active. The aim of Voice Counter, however, is not only to provide INPS services to deaf users, but also to make sure that, by overcoming communication barriers, all deaf Italian users may become INPS users and receive the communication allowance or other allowances envisaged by Italian laws. The activity program for VC and VVC is directly managed by the offices jointly with Central Management located in Rome. Central Management: - Coordinates the whole activity nationwide, - Conducts a constant monitoring, - Organizes the quarterly calendar of Italian Sign Language interpreters available nationwide for the Virtual Voice Counter connections in such a manner that each office is aware on a day to day basis of which deaf employees are available to serve as translators for the various virtually connected offices. - Central Management additionally checks the various customer cards to assess users’ judgments and suggestions (included in the notes) for the sake of a constant improvement of the service. For instance, Central Management, on a recommendation by the users themselves, has included in the customer card another initiative associated with VC: the request to register for a course in Italian Sign Language to learn how to use the INPS PIN number. Through the INPS PIN number, in fact, it is possible to attend to several administrative practices without the need to access a counter. To learn how to use it, training courses in Italian Sign Language have been scheduled for deaf citizens: all the requesting deaf users will be contacted back by the competent office and registered free of charge for a training course on “how to use the INPS PIN number” to carry out administrative practices by accessing one’s own customer area from the institutional website. To date, there are approximately 300 registered users in Rome alone: The courses on using the INPS PIN number, run in Italian Sign Language, will be managed by the deaf staff members following a specific professional training and apprenticeship.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The initiative was launched in 2 Rome offices (Roma Eur and Roma Tuscolana) in November 2014; a 4 months’ trial period was envisaged. The strategy used was to involve the deaf staff after having learnt, from the hearing staff involved in the trial, the characteristics of the “culture of deaf persons” and their manner of acting and understanding through recourse to the specific sign language. To that end, in collaboration with the National Body for the Deaf that provided the intervention of experts in Italian Sign Language and expert psychologists, a training course seeing the participation of hearing employees involved in the trial was held. After studying the characteristics the service to the specific type of users was supposed to have, the second phase was to run a training course with an interpreter in Italian Sign Language (consisting of internal hearing staff knowing the Italian Sign Language) to teach non-hearing colleagues how to carry out the most requested administrative practices at the counter. The first working team that launched the trial consisted of 5 hearing and 7 non-hearing persons; currently (after slightly more than 2 years), the employees working on the initiative have become 369 between hearing and non-hearing people. After the training course, the first letters were sent and the first appointments were managed, including through the integration of a satisfaction card (Customer card) given to the user to fill in. The appointments have been managed at the office, in collaboration also with experts in the field mainly consulted for solving complex. Given the extensive success recorded, even prior to the conclusion of the trial, inasmuch as the deaf persons have engaged in “word of mouth” a lot, requests for the opening of more Voice Counters started coming in from all over Italy. Thereupon, the central working team began the organization of the various training courses (for deaf employees and for people in charge of the URP) that are still going on. As the various courses are held, additional counters, real or virtually managed, are opened. To divulge the initiative nationwide, in April 2016 a message signed by the General Manager (Message number: 001506 of 06.04.2016) laid down the characteristics and social value of the service. Monitoring the whole activity is entrusted to Central Management, which assesses the entire process even in respect of the new needs and demands of both deaf employees and users. The resources used are purely internal (technical and human), and the only costs incurred were thus for the dispatch of letters. No funds were solicited. Given however the high degree of professionalism (constantly expanding) deaf employees are exhibiting, a process of enhancement of the work undertaken by the employees operating at the Voice Counter has been initiated in order to lend high value to the activity and accordingly distinguish it positively from all the other office activities. The said exceptional appraisal of the activity will probably come into force already prior to the next semester.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The initiative Designing Has Been done hearing the opinion Ente Nazionale Sordi (ENS) of the Rome Section Which Have Very appreciated the interest INPS to the problems of the deaf and have a Put Our Arrangement The Stalls of Their registered to be able obtain a validation of the language used in the letter to send to users. Validation It occurred proposing a text and making him see One to One to a HIGHER number of Deaf (60) in Figure out if there was Stata Understanding. The Data sono stati then statistically Treaties. Although the text of the letter is and have to change many times and for the validation we Took Over 3 months of work, and is reached, however, an excellent level of understanding Who never dates of Ambiguity Problems using the stessa.A Letter story Purpose and What to say the language Dai Deaf and Essential language and basic earnings not give a place a frantendimenti and misunderstood why and State Very Important able to comply PROPERLY ad esso.L'ENS and greater non-governmental organization What protection RIGHTS of the Deaf and EXTENDED and throughout the country. The ENS has contributed Also During Initial Project and State WHEN Without a Training Course for deaf staff for good to Understand the FEATURES of the Deaf Community, the psychology of the Deaf and The basic elements that characterize the communication mode used Take That Deaf Sign language and use of labiale.L'avvio Sector Project in the experimental phase and THER State supported by '' Department of Social Policies "of Rome Tuscolano What One of the areas of Rome and with greater number of the Deaf of the national territory. As part of the Start ceremony Councillor himself has Given About a supporting narrative discourse and sponsorship initiative

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
- The initiative was well received immediately with great success by the Deaf community. Many deaf ask appointment or present themselves at the counter even without having yet received the letter. Indeed even the deaf residents abroad by mail asking the intervention of SV to solve practices to meet all the demand it was necessary to double the number of days and hours of receipt at the headquarters of Rome Tuscolano and Rome Eur. - The result judgment that deaf people have given to the customer card used for the evaluation of the initiative came in at 9.8 (scale values 1/10) almost full evaluation. In the notes there are always words of appreciation, support and thanksgiving - In many Italian cities the deaf have requested the opening of door entry. To date they have been set up in 12 different regions Item 37 doors. In some major cities we were made of inaugurations ceremonies involving the media and leading authorities from the area. - The INPS management has assessed since the first months of its success, and it instructed the IT structures to develop an appropriate procedure inserted in Intranet useful not only in order to enable the archive management but also to create a network between employees who work in SV (369 to date). It 'important to say that the procedure has been developed in collaboration with deaf colleagues to both the choice of graphics for choosing the language used in the various Menu Item'. Deaf employees are also asked to insert the photo in procedure also every colleague who works in the initiative throughout the country, what to emphasize the importance of the image for those affected by the communication difficulties associated with hearing loss . The Italian Ministry of Health as part of a conference on disability has appreciated very publicly SV Item INPS. Even The Councillor for Social Policies within the Lazio Region Council took as a positive example SV to sponsor the LIS that Italy still has no official recognition; this means that the Italian PA to allow individual small local initiatives, there is still no national support in LIS for deaf citizens. The INPS with the One Stop Voice is a pioneer and has shown sensitivity and attention to the problems of the deaf, we hope will take the lead in order to extend SV in other sectors of the Italian Public Administration

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle was to win senior management to the mistrust that had to give to the deaf employee assignments of ATM activities. E 'it was won by doing the deaf employees a training course in LIS on site Popular activities and by showing executives the results of their activities. Currently the deaf colleagues independently manage the branches voice and turn to responsible dealings with the Utility only if they fail to conclude autonomously administrative practice. Another obstacle has been the difficulty of communication with deaf employees. It is passed by making the team that launched the One Stop Voice a basic course on the LIS and the mentality and culture of the deaf. E 'was also very useful to support deaf employees who speak the LIS because they have deaf relatives. Currently the deaf employees normally communicate with colleagues deaf is using the basic signs in LIS or using the lip with a different communication approach. Currently the deaf employees are also used to hold training courses for employees, of course with the support of the team of employees of deaf SV e SVV. Another obstacle was to convince managers of locations with lack of space to offer appartanti spaces suitable also from the psychological point of view to accommodate a particular type of user such as that of the deaf characterized by spontaneous mistrust and need for privacy. It is overcome by using secluded rooms shared with other services in different times and days for which the ATM Voice is active only in specific days of the month. In those days the user is received not in the public hall but in a private room, with the door closed, the presence of tellers deaf and possibly responsible for relations with users and expert in the field

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The remarkable results obtained from SV are given by : is the first time you look in the context of the Italian PA to treat in detail the "minimum quality" of the service reserved for deaf respecting their personal characteristics: need for confidentiality, the simplicity and spontaneous distrust of hearing people. Deaf users now finally in full autonomy can treat their INPS administrative practices without having to ask for help from deaf or family without having to pay from his own pocket translators LIS (about 70 euro per hour). Whereas before the entry door the user was received in the public hall in the midst of confusion and without due privacy and autonomy now the deaf user feels well received in a suitable secluded and private environment, I adopted systems that make the difference are : - In the waiting room display is entered "sportello voce" when it comes their turn the user is greeted by the head of Public Relations Office with some LIS expressed in speech and is accompanied in the private room. - On the door of the deaf person room is the ATM logo Voice and the room is an employee (usually dull) who speaks the same language. - If the appointment takes place with the virtual link the user is informed and is sought permission to use the web cam (even if there is no recording). - If there are volunteers in the appointment (former INPS employees who speak the LIS now retired), the user is asked before your appointment if you agree to the voluntary presence. - The language used in the letter and in the customer card is an essential and absolutely understandable language (validated by the deaf) very different from other letters sent to general users. To date they have been carried out by more than 37 thousand some administrative practices of these highly complex branches. The measurement is done using the "Customer Card" which includes a part of the user filled in and part by the employee. The user checks the data and provides a score from 0 to 10 on service and inserts (to taste) of the notes. The average user rating is 9.8 and the notes there are always words of appreciation and encouragement and gratitude The parameters of the board are: - User data updated with emails and phone - Receipt letter - User's preferred communication mode (labial or LIS) - Of course required in LIS use the PIN INPS and the level of computer knowledge base - If the event in question carried out with ATM or real Voice Alerts - Which employees (subject matter experts or responsible URP) were present appointment - Access reason - Appointment duration in hours and minutes - User rating (0 to 10) and notes (if you compile) - Documentation attached to the practice All data are then inserted in the due procedure for statistical processing and for periodical monitoring of the activity

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Door Item definitely improved the provision of the public service in terms of quality and quantity. The measurement was made by monitoring the statistical data on the quantities and types of practice that are made periodically using the online procedure: 1 100% of invalidity practices not concluded with the payment of the benefit was due to the fact that users had not presented a model called "AP 70" which ends the process of the recognition of disability and you need to have the banking and home data to provide the disability pension or the allowance of accompagnamento.I deaf because of communication difficulties they had not understood that it was necessary to fill the AP70 which is also complex enough that they did not receive the benefit. 2 It is placed attention to the high number of deaf people who had not applied for unemployment benefit or family allowances and therefore did not receive the benefit. For an objective assessment it has been asked users why. 100% of the responses was: "I did not know you could apply and did not know how to apply". In Italy the CAF (Tax and social security service center) have an interpreter LIS who can act as support to the deaf also the Ente Nazionale Sordi as "non-state" not 3 The door impact item was also measured by what they wrote the users in the "notes" field of the Customer tab: are all phrases of thanks because finally the government is providing a service tailored to their specific needs 4 Users say that SV has improved, beyond the range even the integrity and privacy protection as in the letter sent home comes with a security code which helps to personalize the service and to identify the persona.In case practice carried out by mail without going to the door the security code is essential for privacy. One of the SV objectives is to reach the deaf who have not even applied for disability (about 27,000) Because there are not for the INPS archives plans to achieve them through word of mouth, or through the relevant page of the corporate website http: / / or through the media and the resonance that SV will every time you talk about it (ie you can open a new window or to receive an award)

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
SV for deaf ensures equal rights: - sending to all the deaf persons included in the INPS archive an informational letter about the service - having made use, in drafting the letter, of very simple words easily understandable by deaf person. The text has been validated on a sample of deaf persons - having granted the National Body for the Deaf the opportunity of arranging an appointment with SV in the name of deaf users unable to use a PC - continuing to involve in the initiative the deaf persons not included in the INPS archives through word of mouth, INPS internet website and exposure in the media at the time of such events as the opening of a new voice counter or receipt of a prize or an official recognition - ensuring the best conditions for the realization of an appointment : besides an interpreter in the Italian Sign Language, with a suitable environment to fulfil requests as well. - meeting the requests sent by mail by the deaf persons residing abroad, by identifying the user through the security code found on the letter to protect the privacy and attending to the practice even in the user’s physical absence.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Mena Paola Ciarmela
Title:   dott.ssa  
Telephone/ Fax:   +390659055417
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   via Ciro il Grande 21
Postal Code:   00144
City:   Roma
State/Province:   Roma

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