Monday, October 18, 2010

Budget 2011 - there but not there yet

Perhaps Mr Prime Minister did hear some of my thoughts relating to my wish list on ICT benefits for the visually impaired. However, there's still much to do to meet the needs of the blind community.

Here are some of my first impressions on the recently announced Budget 2011

1. With the abolishment of sales tax on mobile phones and the waiver of import and sales tax on broadband equipment, this will benefit the blind community as the blind has grown to be dependent on technology in their daily activities, both social and in their career. However, the costs of assistive and adaptive technology, an additional add-on requirements on top of computers and mobile devices, are still expensive and beyond the reach of many. The government should include subsidy on such assistive and adaptive technology which could be the the barrier in becoming tech savvy for the many visually impaired people . Also, the broadband and telco service providers should be given incentives to encourage more blind individuals to become IT literate and the result of this could have a far reaching positve impact to the digital economy, providing career opportunities, less strain on the social welfare, etc.

2. The 1 Malaysia training program should include training for the disabled, especially in the field of ICT enabling the disabled to have an opportunity to compete with others on a level playing field.

3. The multi media development corporation, as stated, would be training more ICT graduates. Similarly, the training should also be extended to blind trainers/instructors, who then, could be the trainers for the disabled community as they themselves, would understand and know the special training needs of the blind. This will churn out more IT specialists among the blind and thus will be in a better position to contribute to the country's transformation to a high income earning economy.

More challenging times ahead!

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