Visually impaired persons struggle in this technology-driven society. One issue they face is lack of access to mobile services because of the format it is presented in. Mobile services are offered in ordinary text form which becomes a challenge for visually impaired persons to read. In many cases, they seek assistance from the public. They also have to trust that the stranger will not take advantage of their disability. This puts them at risk of having their private information in the wrong hands and also getting conned.
Many times, visually impaired persons are at the mercy of the public when it comes to accessing basic information and services. Additionally, visually impaired persons have minimum access to information on their phones. It is also harder for them to use mobile services.
Access to information is not only a fundamental human right but it is also specified for persons living with disabilities. The Constitution of Kenya provides that a person living with any disability is entitled to reasonable access to public places, transport and information. This, among other rights, ensures that visually impaired persons in Kenya should be provided with means to access such amenities.
Safaricom has always been at the forefront of easing the lives of people with disabilities. As such, they have launched a Dot Braille watch in partnership with DOT incorporation. This technology is meant to assist visually impaired persons’ access MPESA messages in braille form and conduct financial transactions.
Visually impaired persons no longer have to rely on the goodwill of others to access their MPESA accounts. The Braille Dot uses smartwatch technology to bring MPESA messages in braille which will enable the visually impaired to read. This will enable them to access MPESA services without external help, therefore, reserving their privacy.
Many people living with disabilities may not be able to afford expensive equipment. Safaricom promises that the devices will be affordable and accessible to the people who need it.
“We are committed to the empowerment of persons with disability by facilitating the availability and affordability of assistive devices and technologies in line with our mission to transform lives,” said Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Chief Officer, Financial Services at Safaricom.
Apart from providing the Dot Braille watch, Safaricom will offer a call optimization service to visually impaired persons. On this platform, blind people can issue their queries to specially trained call agents so as to assist them further. Through such queries, Safaricom will be able to improve its services to fit visually impaired persons.
Such innovations encourage inclusivity by offering similar services to both able and disabled people. Safaricom continues spearheading tremendous work in creating solutions to various problems facing the telecommunication industry. It was only last year that last year they introduced the Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This is an M-PESA solution that would enable the visually impaired customers to be in control of their M-PESA transactions.
In conclusion, MPESA serves a vast majority of Kenyans including visually impaired persons. This watch will enable such customers to have easy access to the service.