January 3, 2024

Webinar Recap: Supporting the Visually Impaired through Mobile Technology with BRAC

Gabriela Alvarado

Webinar Recap: Supporting the Visually Impaired through Mobile Technology with BRAC

On December 13, 2023, Najiat Chowdhury, Manager of Business Intelligence & Technology BRAC joined Elaine Chang, CEO, TaroWorks, in our latest webinar to discuss how BRAC is leveraging Salesforce and TaroWorks for their visually-impaired mobile user field teams and the end-beneficiary entrepreneurs with visual impairments.

We are very proud to work with BRAC, and contribute to their mission to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. We thank this outstanding organization for joining the webinar and for sharing their learnings.

Using Data To Create Change

BRAC believes that data can be a powerful tool for change. But they’ve also found out that it requires understanding and leveraging. To do this, BRAC created the Technology For Development Unit (ICT4DU), a team that Najiat is part of and that focuses on finding ways to use data to establish a data-driven culture, support organisations and programmes, and design and deploy technology products.

This data-driven culture and processes has helped BRAC improve their programmes, track the evolution and results of their beneficiaries and be transparent.

Since 2016, BRAC has been using TaroWorks for offline data collection to deploy the use of paper, and Salesforce, a powerful CRM, to create reports and dashboards for quick insights and decision making. By using these tools, the organisation has been able to:

  • Create a real time data collection system to take data backed decision making
  • Save Staff’s time on the creation of reports
  • Fill the gap of lacking data for decisions/ interventions 

Click the image below to watch a video about the incredible work that the ICT4DU team is doing at BRAC:

A Need For Inclusive Technology

The Skills Development Programme is a programme where BRAC provides skills training to out–of–school adolescents and youth and place them in jobs. It has reached 0.5 million adolescents and youth through different skills development initiatives and the job placement rate is more than 80%. Apart from service delivery, SDP also focuses on making structural changes through community engagement, motivating more girls and women to join skills training, and influencing People with Disability to join the training and subsequent employment.

Later, in 2017 BRAC launched the The Disability Inclusive Graduation (DIG) program to provide personalized support to people living in extreme poverty with disabilities, including socio-economic empowerment and resilience. One of the main components of the programme was to mainstream disability inclusion and increase the accountability and capacity of development partners, including BRAC’s field staff.

In 2021, BRAC needed to make TaroWorks accessible to their visually impaired team members of the DIG, so that they could have the same field work tools as everyone else and be able to collect data seamlessly and have access to offline information.

TaroWorks and BRAC: A Partnership Working Towards Inclusivity

BRAC worked together with TaroWorks to develop an assistive technology tool available to everyone in their mobile devices, and integrated with TaroWorks.

In order to do this, TaroWorks needed to create a strong connection with Android’s Talkback feature – a screen reader function. This function reads out links, buttons, labels, and announcements once they are clicked, so anyone with a visual impairment can have full access to the information. In order to ensure success, TaroWorks worked to create more meaningful descriptions for its functionality and made sure all buttons make sense so the visually impaired users can navigate easily. In addition to this, TaroWorks created the ability to increase font sizes for those who are partially visually impaired.

Key Learnings And Results

One of the key goals of this webinar was to learn about BRAC’s development and implementation process of this assistive technology for the visually impaired, as one of the main questions was: How difficult is the adoption of this technology?

As Najiat mentioned during the webinar, the process was not simple, but with organization and teamwork, they were able to implement the tool seamlessly. She highlighted these key learnings and recommendations:

  1. Design for the end-user: “Our priority was never to serve the donor or HO’s reporting needs because we realized that we could ensure that the data flowed properly from the field, the rest would fall into place. Data lies in the field, we have to design for the field workers who were our end users at that time”, stated Najiat.
  2. Be rapid, be scrappy: If you want your frontline staff to confidently demonstrate to any old big shot donor, you have to be rapid and scrappy in your deployment.
  3. Be embedded with operations: If you want to design a product that management will drive, you need to understand the ground reality. How field operations are run is very different from how At-A-Glance reports are written.

Key Results:

  1. Staff doesn’t need to manually create reports, and there is no requirement for report submission, which saves an average time of three hours of their daily work life. They can invest more time in participants’ follow-up, which improves the programme quality. 
  2. Staff can make data-backed decisions; in the past, most decisions were driven by intuition. 
  3. Accountability and Financial transparency are more visible.
  4. Staff owns the product, and the number of requirements are coming from them to improve the product’s robustness.

Watch the full webinar in our YouTube channel, and keep an eye on our social media, blog, and newsletter to know when our next webinar will happen.


About the author...

Gabriela Alvarado


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