Building a tech infrastructure, training, and IT job creation for persons with visual impairments
- Promoting technology and capacity-building towards employment
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“The lives of visually impaired persons are elevated and motivated for a brighter future through this programme. ” Kwai Nan Dashi, Team Leader, Living Dignity for the Blind working team
Living Dignity for the Blind, a DPO based in Myanmar, provides decentralized courses and informal training to visually impaired individuals in remote areas of the country. Users with disabilities receive online and in-person training on how to use a multitude of devices and assistive technologies. Moreover, the project enables persons with disabilities to develop mobile apps that address the unmet demand among the disabled population in Myanmar. Persons who are trained find jobs in tech-related professions, and the programme has spread out to several other regions of the country.
Persons in Myanmar who are blind are mostly excluded from the community and from employment prospects.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Living Dignity for the Blind, established as a DPO in 2019 in Myanmar, has developed a model of empowering persons who are visually impaired and blind, building on text-to-speech technology. The organization, which by 2023 consisted only of six persons (four of whom having a visual disability themselves), has provided extensive training in computer usage and smartphone operations for visually impaired individuals across Myanmar. It offers specialized job-skill training programmes encompassing music, audio engineering, and YouTuber training, but also online safety, cybersecurity, and digital finance management. To broaden access, the organization has facilitated computer room installations in rural schools for the blind, and also established the first resource room for students with visual impairments in the government university in Yangon. Living Dignity for the Blind members built a Myanmar language text-to-speech system, working both Windows and Android systems. A fully accessible Myanmar keyboard is also being developing for the Android operating system. Persons trained found a variety of jobs, for instance, as travel ticket sellers, audio engineers, music trainers, computer trainers, apps developers, music players in bars, and successful YouTubers. The DPO also developed and launched a ‘money reader’ app, since in Myanmar all banknotes are the same size, and the app has recorded over 10,000 downloads since 2018.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
Living Dignity for the Blind was funded by several international development funding entities, including the Abilis Foundation from Finland (2019, €10,000); Overbrook School’s international programme in Philadelphia (2019 and 2020, a total of appx $32,000); and the International Council for Education of Persons with Visual Impairment’s higher education project ($16,400). By 2023 the project had been replicated in Yangon City and nine other regions of Myanmar. (Awardee 2024)