Empowering people with disabilities through digital upskilling initiatives
THAILAND. Bangkok Post (16 March 2022) - Total Access Communication (DTAC), Thailand's third largest mobile operator by subscriber base, has launched three initiatives aimed at empowering people with disabilities to take advantage of the digital world.
The initiatives involve data packages, training and support services to help the disabled have more equal access to digital connectivity, through collaboration with the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEP) and the National Association of the Deaf in Thailand (NADT).
According to the UN report "Leveraging Digital Technologies for Social Inclusion" from last year, one in five people across the world has a disability. In Thailand, there are 2.1 million people with disabilities or 3.18% of the country's population, half of them over age 60. Some 81.5% of people with disabilities in the country only have a primary education.
Sharad Mehrotra, chief executive of DTAC, said the company can play a role in providing digital access to those living with disabilities to improve their livelihood and promote freedom of expression.
He said DTAC believes it can create business growth along with fostering a sustainable, inclusive society through its connectivity services.
The first initiative involves designed mobile packages for people with disabilities and their caregivers offering affordable prices. Hearing-impaired users rely heavily on internet and data plans to connect with others through video calls, messaging apps or social media platforms.
As part of the initiative, customers who purchase a 99-baht package can receive 4 gigabytes of data, while a 249-baht package provides unlimited data at a speed of 4 megabits per second.
DTAC also extends a 15% discount for its "dSurance" insurance service feature through its mobile app.
For the second measure, DTAC's "Net-for-living" digital skill development programme has partnered with the DEP to conduct digital upskilling training for 21 occupational groups and some vocational rehabilitation centres for people with disabilities. With digital upskilling, participants are projected to earn 15% more income and enhance their opportunities and quality of life, DTAC indicated.
The third initiative involves the launch of a sign-language video call centre where customers can make Line video calls to the firm's agents who can fluently use sign language to address their queries and provide assistance. Subscribers from other mobile operators can also use this service, which runs from 9am to 5pm every day.
The call centre is a collaboration with the NADT, which recruits capable people from the deaf community, while DTAC provides call centre agent training and sets up a fully functioning call centre system.
Saranpat Anumatrajkj, director-general of the DEP, said more than 2 million people in Thailand have physical challenges and one-fifth of them live with some form of hearing loss.
"Digital inclusion presents an important opportunity for people with disabilities," she said. "Digital services can improve access to education, financial services, skills development and employment"
Withayoot Bunnag, president of the NADT, said digital upskilling empowers participants to have a better quality of life and be more self-reliant.
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