Friday, July 3, 2009


Friday, July 3, 2009 |


The Hon. Deputy Minister, YB Tn Hj Fadillah Bin Yusof had given his verbal support the development of a voice synthesizer. The proposal was made by MAB.

"Insyallah!" said the Hon. Deputy Minister, "with our short discussion, Binary University will be invited to collaborate with MDC [Multimedia Development Corp.] through the initiative with MOSTI later on.
MAB will be invited. We want MAB to be prime driver of this initiative."

Further clarification with En. Rahim revealed that the speech synthesizer engine will be in Malay. The engine can be used in existing screen readers such as Windoweyes, NVDA, HAL etc. They would apply for grants from MOSTI.


Information and communication technology has expanded the capabilities of the blind, allowing them to do things independently hitherto in the past, they had to rely on sighted assistance. En. Silatul Rahim Bin Dahman, is a firm believer in enabling the visually impaired through ICT.

On the importance of website accessibility, he gave confidentiality in banking transaction as an example. "If a blind person could not do online banking himself due to inaccessible features of the website," said En Rahim, "he would not be able to do any online transaction on his own and would have to rely on sighted assistance, thus putting confidentiality and security at risk." He pointed out that the alternative solution was to forgo the convenience of online banking- limiting his banking options vis-à-vis his sighted counterparts, all because a bank did not ensure accessibility of its website services.

The blind can now use text-to-speech software called a 'screen reader' to read everything on the screen of a computer. This software enabled the visually impaired to use the computer. En. Rahim gave further examples on how this development has impacted the lives of the visually impaired. They can search for and apply for jobs online, thereby enlarging job opportunities, used the internet for educational purposes, make reservations and buy online. ICT has enabled the blind to compete with the sighted on a more level playing field.

En. Rahim is visually impaired. Technology has enhanced his quality of life immensely. After high school En. Rahim furthered his studies in USA. The experience there made a profound impact on him. He took up courses in access technology from The Carroll Center for the Blind as well as further his studies in Overbrook school for the blind, Philadelphia. upon completion of his studies Em. Rahim returned home with a real appreciation of how new developments in information technologies for the blind could have a positive impact on the lives of the visually impaired.

Back in Malaysia, En. Rahim taught as a part-time instructor in Society of the Blind, Malaysia [SBM]. Later he moved to teach as a full time senior instructor in St. Nicholas Home in Penang. His skills and knowledge was noticed by The Malaysian Association for the Blind and was offered a position in their ICT Department. Currently En. Rahim is the IT Manager of the department. He also revealed he is a trained web accessibility specialist [one of three in Malaysia]. The other two are his full time staff, Fadzlin Hiezrie Bin Abd. Rahman and a part timer, Allan Wong. He admitted many more specialists have to be trained to cover the whole country.

MAB is the most well funded local organization serving the blind. It has been promoting access to information for the Blind through ICT and multimedia (websites). it also conducts workshops for employees of both private and public organizations and institutions as well as service providers and web developers

In 25th June, 2009 MAB launched a web accessibility campaign. At the launch, Dato' L Krishnan pointed out accessible websites benefits people with all forms of disability as well as for the sighted. The effect of accessible websites is to offer Unprecedented access to information for people with disability

He also revealed what MAB has been doing:
-ongoing promotion through awareness talks
- regional training workshops to blind trainers in ASEAN to enable them to promote web accessibility in their own country.
-conducted two workshops for the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. This has resulted in improvement in accessibility in agencies under the said ministry. MAB has also evaluated the website of BAKTI-MIND and made recommendations to improve accessibility.

Dato' L Krishnan said that MAB offer professionals consultation services. They planned to approach websites to allow MAB conduct web accessibility assessment and suggest proposals on making web content accessible

En. Rahim elaborated, They would like to promote web accessibility among the web developers and web owners but the main focus is on the government and service providers since their impact on the citizens is enormous.

The Hon. Deputy Minister, YB Tn Hj Fadillah Bin Yusof is supportive of the initiative and stated, "various ministry to submit to consultative support from MAB".

Enhanced website accessibility would be especially welcomed by the disabled community in the country.

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