Using assistive technology to bridge the education gap of blind students aged between 10 to 17 in Malaysia and beyond ASEAN
A low-vision student using the online learning platform
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
There is an estimated 5000 visually impaired (VI) /blind students studying in special school in Malaysia nationwide and they do not receive equal education mainly due to the use of Braille books as primary reference. Firstly, Braille book is expensive. It costs Malaysia Government much money to print. This is a prevailing problem globally as confirmed by various researchers compiled by ZHENG in her research entitled A Study on Blind Students’ Experience of Provision and Support in 2014. Secondly, braille book printing takes longer time. A braille text book typically takes at least a year to be published, and blind students are left out in studies without latest books. Lastly, braille book is less portable. A normal printed book is equivalent to 4 books or more with larger size and heavier weight. Thus the blind are unable to study anytime anywhere. In 2016, we collaborated with a Malaysian leading public listed education content publisher and the Ministry Education of Malaysia to launch Learning Includes, a pioneering virtual tuition platform pilot project catered primarily to aid blind students in their education. Our tuition platform with the existing assistive technology and the power of internet, makes it possible for the blind students to access the latest education syllabus endorsed by Malaysia government at a much lower cost. They can now enjoy their studies anytime anywhere through our platform. Additionally, the students are tutored by well- trained PWD graduates who understand their needs and challenges, besides serving as role models to inspire them to be successful in life. In 2017, We sponsored 20 blind students from 2 special schools and 7 students taking the general examination scored between 3 to 8 As in all subjects. We expanded our pilot test benefiting 156 special students, 12 teachers from 11 schools in Peninsular Malaysia in 2017/2018; and aiming to reach all 5000 blind students by 2021.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our primary target is visually impaired / blind students age between 10 to 17, studying in special education school and inclusive schools in Peninsular and East Malaysia. Our secondary target is students with other disabilities such as deafness, physically challenged and minor dyspepsia aged between 10 to 17. The students are now able to access to additional educational resources and fully sponsored by our project. Most of these special students have a poor family background and access to limited educational resources due to high cost. The Platform allows volunteers or the public to help these students in their studies
Group picture with the beneficiaries from Setapak Special Education School for the blind
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
We have 5 years direct working experience with the VI & PWD communities through our academy, Dialogue in the Dark & 18 months experience working with blind students through our pilot project. Our platform is currently the most accessible tuition learning platform for blind students in the market. Currently 80% accessible compared to 50% of other tuition platforms in Malaysia.
Our tuition Platform features updated education content of all subjects endorsed by Malaysian Government
Our tuition platform enables students to study any time anywhere without internet
Blind Students are tutored by well-trained PWD graduates who understand their challenges & serve as mentors through accessible teacher account
Our platform is the most affordable platform in the market (97 USD annually) & all the tuition fees for the PWD students are fully sponsored
Collaboration among teachers, parents & volunteer tutors to supervise the disabled students' studies is possible through the platform
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
We are a Social Enterprise since 2013, with a vision and mission to equip and enable children, youths, and adult with all form of disabilities and persons with medical challenges to be seen as a contributor and not a burden to society.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered company.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
We started the pilot test in 2016. In 2017, a total of 20 students from Klang Valley region were sponsored to use our virtual learning platform. We have also engaged 2 visually impaired and a physically challenged graduates as our virtual learning coach in 2017 until today. In 2018, we have extended our pilot test by sponsoring 156 students from 11 special schools in peninsular Malaysia to be on board in our project
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
The reliance of Braille Books as primary reference in special education school in Malaysia has indirectly created unequal access to education among visually impaired students. It is also supported by various studies that it is an issue worldwide. We are confident our pioneering inclusive virtual learning project can bridge the education gap faced by the disabled students with the help of assistive technology and internet. Ultimately, we are looking forward to fulfil one of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal, which is to Ensure inclusive and quality education for all
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
We are partnering with SASBADI, a leading public listed education content publisher in Malaysia, and the Special Education Department operated under the Ministry of Education Malaysia. We have been working closely since 2016 with SASBADI's technical team to improve the platform's accessibility through a series of testing and feedbacks. In the past 2 years, the i-LEARN ACE virtual / mobile Learning platform accessibility has improved from 50% to 80%, and we target to improve it to 90% by the end of 2019. Currently, it is the most accessible tuition platform for visually impaired and blind students in our nation. The Department of Special Education Malaysia also helps to endorse Learning Includes to be implemented in all 5500 special education and inclusive schools across the country. Currently, we have adopted and funded 11 schools in our pilot stage, with 156 students and 12 teachers using our virtual / mobile learning platform to teach these students
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Our Project is:
A strong model for CSR adoption - we secured support from corporates foundations to fund 20 VI/Blind students as their CSR initiative in 2017.
An impactful community project that encourage and bring together volunteers to assist/tutor the disabled students
Inclusive project, advocating unity among diversities especially in our multiracial and multicultural Malaysia
Reaching out other developing nation advocating equal access to education within ASEAN
Disabled community in Malaysia and beyond ASEAN
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
We are implementing the project in 24 months, aiming to reach out to an estimated 5000 students in Peninsular and East Malaysia.
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)