Türk Telekom makes a new Business Call to Action commitment to include people with disabilities in Turkey’s digital revolution
Istanbul, 28 August 2017 – Türk Telekom, Turkey’s largest provider of information communications connectivity, has made a Business Call to Action (BCtA) commitment to provide 7,500 visually impaired people across Turkey with critical access to information by 2020 through a free audio book service -Books on the Phone. Books on the Phone allows disabled customers to reach GETEM’s audio books via their phones free of charge; its simplified technology makes the service accessible to everyone regardless of age or education level. And providing the service free of charge to those with visual impairments also mitigates economic barriers faced by people with disabilities. The company has also committed to connect thousands of people with disabilities nationwide with affordable phone, internet and other digital services.
Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. It is supported by several international organizations and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In Turkey alone, there are 800,000 people who are visually impaired. For many, adaptive technologies critical for access to education, employment and social inclusion are out of reach. Only 1.5 percent of people with disabilities in Turkey have a primary education and 78 percent are unemployed. Many are effectively are cut off from information, essential services and opportunities – especially in rural areas.
Türk Telekom became the first Turkish company to join BctA in 2013 with its ‘Life is Simple with Internet’ initiative, aimed at enabling people disconnected from the digital world to become internet users. Targeting people 35 and over in 50 of Turkey’s most underdeveloped cities, the project raised awareness about basic internet use, security, online banking, social networks and other communication tools, online shopping, e-government and other services.
Following the success of Life is Simple with Internet, the company relaunched ‘Books on the Phone’ in early 2016 supported with inclusive business understanding with accessible life tariffs, making hundreds of audio books from the Boğaziçi University Assistive Technology and Education Laboratory for Individuals with Visual Disabilities (GETEM) available free of charge via Türk Telecom’s nationwide infrastructure.
“With our tailored services and serious commitment to ‘Accessible ICT for all’, we are serious about increasing disabled people’s participation in society”, explained Türk Telekom CEO Dr. Paul Doany. “In the process, we are making all parties in Turkey aware of the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and how information technology can make their lives better.”
Türk Telekom is using this innovative platform to raise national awareness of the need for access to information for people with disabilities – and the company’s ability to respond to these needs. Up-to-date, visually impaired people had accessed the fixline service over 200,000 times and usage time exceeded 4.5 million minutes. The mobile access by Books on the Phone application has been downloaded over 10.000 times.
Following its initial success and a major increase in the number of books offered, the company redesigned the service with improved infrastructure and new features. A voice menu has been added to make it more user friendly and enable users to find their favorite books faster. The initiative has also inspired Türk Telecom to launch another inclusive project, ‘Accessible Life’, which offers preferential pricing for people with disabilities on mobile access, internet and TV.
“Our longtime member Türk Telecom has demonstrated the private sector’s crucial role in providing equal opportunities for all people to information and communications services”, explained BCtA’s Programme Manager Paula Pelaez. “Its newest initiatives are expanding these opportunities to people with disabilities, helping visually impaired and other disabled people to cross the digital divide”.
For further information:
BCtA: Aimee Brown at email@example.com
Türk Telecom: Belma Kilic Batur at firstname.lastname@example.org
BCtA membership does not constitute a partnership with its funding and programme partners, UNDP or any UN agency.
About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.
About Türk Telekom: With a 175-year history, Türk Telekom Turkey’s first integrated telecommunications company. Its customer-oriented structure is designed to respond to rapidly changing communication and technology needs by integrating mobile, internet, phone and TV under a single brand. The company serves all 81 cities in Turkey, with 33,820 employees. Its vision is to introduce new technologies into the country and accelerate Turkey’s transformation into an information society. In 2013, it became the first Turkish company to join the BCtA with the launch of its ‘Life is Simple with Internet’ initiative aimed at turning those disconnected from the digital world into internet users. For more information about Türk Telekom and its inclusive approach to connectivity, visit https://www.turktelekom.com.tr/en/pages/default.aspx.