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Empowering the Visually Impaired, Flex Upgrades St. Nicholas’ Home’s IT Lab

Empowering the Visually Impaired, Flex Upgrades St. Nicholas’ Home’s IT Lab

This initiative seeks to empower communities while providing employment opportunities for PWDs.

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On Tuesday (19 September), Flex, a worldwide technology business, and St. Nicholas’ Home (SNH), a reputable non-profit organisation, celebrated the inauguration of an improved IT lab in a significant occasion emphasising the potential of collaboration and technology.

This development has the potential to profoundly alter the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired (BVI).

Flex Vice President of Information Technology, Dato’ SN Lee, and St. Nicholas’ Home General Manager, Carmen Chew, with the plaque commemorating the official opening of the new IT lab to help equip blind and visually impaired individuals with critical IT skills in Malaysia. 

Flex, named as the “PWD Largest Caring Employer 2022” continually fosters improvement in the communities it serves. Their ethos is firmly rooted in their dedication to inclusiveness and diversity. Since 2018, they have actively hired people with disabilities (PwDs), and their initiatives have received widespread praise.

Flex’s commitment was further exemplified through the Flex Foundation’s generous RM300,000 grant to St. Nicholas’ Home. The IT lab was renovated with the help of this grant, and cutting-edge computers specifically designed to give BVI individuals more power were added.

A RM300,000 grant made by the Flex Foundation enabled St. Nicholas’ Home to fully refurbish the IT lab and equip it with computers that will benefit over 50 students who are blind or visually impaired annually. 

Carmen Chew, the general manager of St. Nicholas’ Home, expressed their commitment to opening doors and empowering BVI individuals with digital tools. Beyond technology, Flex’s involvement in this effort emphasises a strong commitment to education and represents an investment in the future of the BVI community.

Empowering BVIs Through Education

During a Q&A session with representatives from St. Nicholas’ Home and Flex, their shared mission became evident – to assist and support the home, emphasising the capabilities and unique gifts possessed by BVIs and PwDs.

Datuk SN Lee explained how computers would benefit the visually impaired, citing numerous software solutions to assist both the visually and hearing impaired. The setup, complete with teachers and a practical focus, enables training classes at the home, offering BVIs limitless opportunities.

The IT lab in St. Nicholas’ Home underwent a 360-degree transformation and includes new flooring, ceiling, air conditioners, table, chairs, and computers equipped with software designed for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. 

Lee emphasised, “BVIs should not give up; there are ample capabilities to help them seek employment even after training.”

Responding to queries about Flex’s involvement with PwD homes in Malaysia, it was revealed that they had also supported the Deaf Association in Penang and Johor. 

Delving into how the visually impaired use standard keyboards, it was explained that the computer “speaks” as the user types, pronouncing each letter or sentence as it’s keyed in. BVIs rely on listening and use keyboard shortcuts, eliminating the need for a traditional mouse.

Fatimah Sun, who became blind due to cancer of the retina, is currently working as an IT instructor in St. Nicholas’ Home; she shared her experience during the ceremony. 

Bridging the Digital Divide for BVIs

Courses at St. Nicholas’ Home are not only free but also include accommodation, education, and meals, ensuring accessibility to all. BVIs from Penang can attend daily classes, while others can reside in dormitories. Carmen disclosed that they currently have three trainers and five trainees.

The IT course spans six months, with plans to introduce BVIs to basic web development. An advanced web development course, commencing in January next year, aims to equip BVIs with technical skills and employment opportunities, further emphasising the commitment to empowerment through technology.

Through unwavering dedication, compassion, and innovative spirit, the BVI community in Malaysia is on a path towards a brighter, more inclusive future, rich with opportunities and hope.

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