PLDT, Smart, partners enable smartphone accessibility for persons with disabilities in QC

PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) together with the Quezon City Persons with Disability Affairs Office and NORFIL Foundation help persons with visual impairment in Quezon City learn digital life skills to help them accomplish daily tasks.

“PLDT and Smart believe that technology can transform lives. Together with our partners, we enable persons with disabilities to independently perform activities with the help of digital innovations,” said Stephanie V. Orlino, AVP and Head of Stakeholder Management at PLDT and Smart.

The PLDT group tapped ATRIEV, the prime ICT specialist non-profit organization that empowers visually impaired persons through technology-enabled assistive programs, to hold the  Android Accessibility Training in Barangay Marilag, Quezon City. Tucked under PLDT and Smart’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Advocacy through Technology (IDEATe) initiative, the free five-day seminar focused on how to use Android devices with the help of a TalkBack screen reader and other AI-driven apps. The TalkBack application provides text-to-speech feedback that allows visually impaired persons to use smartphones independently.

Joey Rioflorido, a 42-year-old massage therapist who lost his eyesight in 2000, said that the training has helped him accomplish on his own some tasks he previously required assistance with on his own, “Now I can pay using my digital wallet without asking for help from a sighted person. I want to expand my knowledge on assistive technology so I could apply for part-time jobs or venture into online selling.”

Maricel Baluan, also a 42-year-old massage therapist took the time off from her job to finish the module, “The TalkBack screen reader is a huge boost for us persons with visual impairment. In my line of work, I travel a lot. Now, I can use ride hailing apps to book rides.”

The IDEATe activities are aligned with PLDT and Smart’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. They also underscore the PLDT Group’s commitment to innovation and digital inclusion, and to assist in the government’s key digitalization efforts.

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