PLDT Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), together with non-profit organization ATRIEV, held a ten-day Android accessibility training in Dumaguete City to upskill twenty visually impaired persons from eleven municipalities in Negros Oriental.
This training seeks to help participants navigate their Android devices independently with the help of a TalkBack screen reader.
“We want to share with them the power of technology and how it can make a difference in their daily lives. Through this initiative, we also intend to provide them with the knowledge they need to establish their own businesses,” said Jaelene Cristel Mina, Master Trainer II at ATRIEV.
ATRIEV is a non-profit organization that capacitates visually impaired persons using technology-enabled assistive programs. This digital training was also conducted by visually challenged members of ATRIEV.
Participants, composed of students, working adults, and small-time business owners, were also equipped with the basics on financial management and technology for business. ATRIEV trained them on how to use digital tools and applications that they can maximize for their daily activities and businesses, such as social media, email services, editing apps, and online word processors, among others.
Kris John Santillan, 32, from Valencia City, has been visually impaired since he was in high school. He can only see with his left eye now, and it is likewise foggy. “It’s my first time using my device’s screen reader feature, and it has been very helpful. This training has given me a lot more confidence, especially in my job search,” he said.
To provide additional livelihood opportunities, PLDT and Smart briefed participants about online payments and how they can start their own e-loading business. They also learned about the different types of phishing and how they can protect themselves from online scammers.
“This experience has given me a deeper appreciation for technology. It dawned on me that technology should be most accessible to those who have unique circumstances, like the visually impaired, because they deserve to experience the best things life has to offer,” said Armel Malijan, head of Consumer Business Fulfilment for PLDT Negros-Siquijor Division.
The success of Dumaguete City’s training program relies heavily on the crucial support from the local government unit, private institutions such as PLDT and Smart, and NGOs such as NORFIL Foundation/Liliane Fonds and Voice Philippines. These collaborative efforts are vital in ensuring the program’s effectiveness and its ability to positively impact the community.
The initiative forms part of PLDT and Smart’s Infoteach program, which is aligned with the group’s commitment to help the country achieve UNSDG #10 on reducing inequality by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. It also helps underscore the PLDT Group’s commitment to innovation and digital inclusion, and to assist in the government’s key digitalization efforts. The PLDT Group is a founding member of the Digital Infrastructure pillar of the presidential Private Sector Advisory Council or PSAC.