PLDT and Smart Communications have partnered with ATRIEV, a non-profit organization that specializes in assistive technology for visually impaired persons, to provide free online training on how to use smartphones with a screen reader.
The 10-day training, which was co-sponsored by PLDT, taught participants how to operate Android devices with TalkBack, an application that gives text-to-speech feedback. The training also covered basic smartphone navigation, angle gestures, onscreen keyboard, and downloading and installing applications.
The trainers, who were also visually impaired themselves, shared their tips and recommendations on other accessible applications that can enhance smartphone use.
The training was part of PLDT and Smart’s Infoteach program, which aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that no one is left behind. The program also supports the UN Sustainability Development Goal 10 on reducing inequality by empowering and promoting the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities.
“Through our Infoteach program, PLDT and Smart aim to bridge the digital divide and ensure that no one is left behind. We collaborate with like-minded organizations to bring technology to vulnerable populations who are bound to benefit from it the most,” said Stephanie Orlino, AVP and Head of Stakeholder Management at PLDT and Smart.
Some of the participants shared how the training helped them gain more independence and confidence in using smartphones.
Mike Ryan Mangompit, a 22-year-old Grade 11 student from Zamboanga who has been totally blind since he was five years old, said he learned more gestures with TalkBack during the training. “Previously, my sibling helped in sending emails. Now, I can do it on my own,” he said.
Isaac Isidro Hipolito, a 19-year-old from Bulacan, said that learning basic smartphone operations has allowed him to perform daily tasks independently. “The technology helps me fill out online forms and learn about my messages without having someone read them to me. With additional applications like cash readers, I can confidently pay for transactions,” he said.
PLDT and Smart’s partnership with ATRIEV is an opportunity to assist the visually impaired sector with #InclusiveTechnology.