Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Free technology helpline for blind or visually impaired

Migdal Or, based in Israel, offers support services for the blind and visually impaired. Operational for more than 60 years, Migdal Or has branches in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva. Since 2014 the centre has offered a technology helpline that supports and gives guidance regarding assistive technology for users of all ages. More than 1,000 persons have used this service in 2016.

“This call centre is an achievement unlike any other for the visually impaired public. The fact that we have someone to trust in times of need warms our hearts and souls!”

Andrey LeiberUser
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Free technology helpline for blind or visually impaired
Organisation:Migdal Or
Country
of Implementation
Israel

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Beneficiaries in 2014: 432
  • In 2015: 899
  • In 2016: 1,200

PROBLEMS TARGETED

In Israel the accessibility of technical support centres for people who are blind or visually impaired is very low, primarily due to a lack of knowledge and skills among customer service providers.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

Clients at home, school, or work can contact the helpline via their smartphone, computer, or tablet. In this way they receive real-time instructions, primarily via phone, five days a week, addressing questions in four languages. The tech-support staff includes a manager and five specialists who are themselves blind or visually-impaired. The helpline operates nationwide out of a call centre, and the support is provided free of charge.
Two men with visual impairments using the computer with a dog in the room.The Helpline promotes workplace inclusion by removing many technological barriers; and by getting the support they need; visually impaired employees demonstrate to their employers and colleagues that with the right support persons with a visual impairment can successfully integrate into the workplace. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Migdal Or promotes the awareness of school principals, teachers, parents, and peers that children with a visual impairment can learn and succeed in mainstream schools, given the right conditions.
Besides the helpline, Migdal Or supports other organizations in adapting online services and organizational web-based systems, offers system assessments, and provides consultation and training on how to make websites accessible. Moreover, the organization performs accessibility checks of workplace information systems for companies that seek to employ the visually impaired.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

Migdal Or is working to increase awareness among public services and private companies, and it includes among its new clients the government´s Information and Communications Technology Authority, the Israeli National Labour A man with visual impairments using the computer.Federation, and the National Water Authority. The company believes that its helpline model can be replicated in other countries, and can be expanded to other groups of people with disabilities.
The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Affairs has funded the helpline, and various companies and organizations (e.g., the Central Library for the Blind, Orcam Technologies, and NVDA – a screen reading producer) fund the helpline service for users of their own specific website or product. The helpline is self-sustaining; it receives public funds and generates income from the project itself (earnings from sales, licensing, membership fees, and subscriptions).
FACTSHEET

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