Tech boost for the blind

2018-11-20 06:02
From left are: Nicky Jacobs, Kirsten Burgess, Morne OÇonnor, Karen Smit, Lynn Benjamin, Lizelle van Wyk and Farhana Cassim at the sponsorship launch in Salt River on Tuesday 13 November. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

From left are: Nicky Jacobs, Kirsten Burgess, Morne OÇonnor, Karen Smit, Lynn Benjamin, Lizelle van Wyk and Farhana Cassim at the sponsorship launch in Salt River on Tuesday 13 November. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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Blind and visually impaired students in Salt River are set for a smart digital
experience.

This follows a partnership between the Cape Town Society for the Blind (CTSB) and cellphone company Vodacom.

The two have developed the Smart Digi Training Programme aimed at equipping visually impaired people with digital skills to help connect them with society. The initiative looks to enhance their digital literacy.

CTSB recently introduced the course which it says provides beneficiaries with insight into numerous assistive devices and technology. Vodacom has since partnered with the society and is sponsoring the assistive devices and course material. Students who complete the six-month course will each receive a certificate.

Karen Smit, Vodacom’s principal specialist of specific needs, says visually impaired people, like any other consumer, have special needs and the cellphone company is looking to meet those needs.“For visually impaired people to become connected, it is imperative that devices are designed with accessible features. This enables visually impaired people to use their mobile device independently when accessing information on the internet, making calls or using social media and other educational platforms over the internet,” says Smit.

To this end, Vodacom will soon be introducing a “full-on” entry-level smart phone, at an affordable price.

Smit says the company considers affordability in light of the high unemployment rate in the country. “It is critical, for digital inclusion, that the device is accessible,” Smit told the gathering at the CTSB offices in Salt River on Tuesday 13 November.

She hailed the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, adding that it will increasingly usher in an era of intersection between people and machines but that its unintended consequences could see some left behind. “At Vodacom, we hold a strong view that strong partnerships are key to the success of this revolution – we need to go back to basics and focus on access barriers to financial services and communication services that have the potential to impede South Africans. ”

Nicky Jacobs, fundraising manager and public relations officer at the society, says: “We are happy to partner Vodacom for this initiative. Approximately 90% of those who lose their sight in youth won’t work for more than six months in their lives and most will never have someone to share their life with. This training will assist with placement opportunities of our students in the open labour market. We also believe that these devices will assist them in enhancing their work performance.”

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