PLDT and Smart Drive Digital Inclusion for Seniors and Visually Impaired in Visayas

Empowering Vulnerable Communities: PLDT and Smart’s Digital Training Initiatives in Visayas

Marylou Gocotano, Visayas Relations Head at PLDT and Smart
Marylou Gocotano, Visayas Relations Head at PLDT and Smart

PLDT Inc. and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. have intensified their digital inclusion efforts in the Visayas region, focusing on upskilling senior citizens and visually impaired individuals under their Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Advocacy through Technology (IDEATe) program.

Key Takeaways

  • IDEATe Program: Aimed at enhancing digital skills among vulnerable groups in the Visayas.
  • Target Beneficiaries: Senior citizens and visually impaired persons.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Partnerships with non-profits and government bodies to extend training reach.
  • Assistive Technology Training: Programs include navigation of Android devices using TalkBack screen readers and use of digital tools for daily activities.
  • Senior Citizens’ Digital Literacy: Training on smartphone usage, internet safety, and mental health in the digital age.

Enhancing Digital Confidence

Marylou Gocotano, Visayas Relations Head at PLDT and Smart, emphasized the program’s impact:

We are grateful for the opportunity to empower senior citizens and visually impaired persons in Visayas by increasing their confidence in using mobile technology.

Accessibility Training for the Visually Impaired

In collaboration with Atriev and the Negros Oriental provincial government, PLDT and Smart facilitated Android accessibility training for 20 visually impaired persons, enhancing their independence in digital navigation.

Participant Experience

32-year-old Kris John Santillan, a visually impaired participant, shared his experience:

“It’s my first time using my device’s screen reader feature, and it has been very helpful. This training has given me a lot more confidence, especially in my job search.”

Digital Literacy for Seniors

In Cebu, the #BetterToday platform provided digital training to 200 senior citizens, in partnership with Passerelles Numériques Philippines and local government units.

Topics covered included basic smartphone usage and internet safety.

Feedback from a Senior Participant

Luis Funtanar, who leads the Lapu-Lapu City Office of Senior Citizen Affairs, found the training extremely beneficial:

It is interesting to learn about other smartphone features and how we can protect ourselves from internet scammers.

Commitment to Inclusivity and Digitalization

These initiatives align with PLDT and Smart’s commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 10 on reducing inequality, promoting the inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities, and contributing to the country’s digitalization efforts.

PLDT and Smart’s IDEATe program represents a significant stride in fostering digital inclusivity among senior citizens and visually impaired persons in the Visayas.

By equipping these vulnerable groups with essential digital skills, the companies are not only enhancing individual empowerment but also contributing to broader societal and economic development.

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