As part of its social responsibility programme, GijimaAst has donated a voice activated NEC Philips PABX switchboard – especially designed for blind or partially sighted users – to the KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Blind.

Taking the donation a step further the ICT company will also provide a training programme to the organisation to transfer switchboard skills in a bid to create employment opportunities for visually impaired people.
“This generous offer is not simply dropping off a switchboard and telling us to get on with it,” says Merle Brown, General Manager of the Society, “It signifies real career opportunities for visually impaired people."
Michele Goate, Deputy Regional Executive KZN at GijimaAst, says that blind and visually impaired people are equally entitled to earn a living, but are often discriminated against because of their impairment.
“With modern technology such as the NEC Philips voice activated PABX, people with disabilities have the opportunity to find gainful employment and we would like to be in a position to make this possible. We owe it to society."
She points out that with the rapid growth in the call centre and BPO industry in South Africa, a greater need for contact centre operators has arisen and she believes that the industry will benefit from the training centre that has now been established.
The upgraded PABX now provides a platform that includes a voice synthesiser offering a user friendly operation for blind or visually impaired operators. It audibly tells users if the call is external, internal or a call returning to the switchboard for further attention.
Brown adds that employment opportunities for visually impaired people would be created through the organisation’s Rehabilitation Services Department.
“Our mission is to train blind people to become independent, employable and self-sufficient and where companies can assist, we gratefully accept the opportunities. In line with our mission, we also offer one-on-one computer training to visually impaired people using audio-based software.”
RAMpage, a user centric telephone management platform) has also been donated via Visual Software Architects – a business partner of GijimaAST. It will form part of the overall communication solution. The cabling required for the new installation has been provided by another GijimaAST partner, Communications Cabling.