Hi-tech phone for blind councillor

Visually impaired Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality councillor Thandi Jacobs will now be able to communicate with her constituency and participate fully in council matters courtesy of a special I-pad handed to her by mobile network company Vodacom at the council chambers on Thursday afternoon.

Jacobs has been a councillor for the past 10 years and has been struggling to communicate effectively with other council members and the public because of her disability.

Now all this is going to be in the past as she will be trained by Vodacom Product Specialist, Allan Fitzpatrick, to use the phone that has been specificially put together for her benefit.

Allan explained that a voice prompt on the special phone will tell Jacobs the letters she types, read her emails and will also help her send and receive messages.

“When she types a letter the phone will tell her what letter she types, and it will also tell her if the letters she type are in capital form or not,” said Allan

He said the phone will also tell Jacobs which sections of its applications she is in as well as guide her on what she needs to do to access other services.

The handing over ceremony of the special, talking phone was also attended by the head of planning in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Papi Moeng.

He said it was a good gesture that Vodacom is not only supporting sports but has also gotten involved in the care of the vulnerable members of the society.

“Councillor Jacobs was born blind, and has been serving the municipality for the past decade navigating through serious communication with her constituency and fellow councillors; this new phone will definitely help in making her working life easier,” he said.

Riaan Welgemoed, the Key Accounts Manager at Vodacom, said his company is excited to have been able to assist Jacobs to do her work more effectively.

“Ms Jacobs will get full training to bring her up to date with the functions of the phone,” he said, adding that the giant cellular company is always aligning itself with community upliftment programmes and views the donation of the special phone, fully sponsored by the company, as indicative of this commitment.

In passing her gratitude for the donation, Jacobs said it had left her speechless, choosing to say she thanks God for the good gesture from Vodacom.

“I really do not know what to say, I thank God for this, and Vodacom for accommodating the disabled like myself,” she said.

She said the donation means she can now fully participate in the running of council affairs, and be able to communicate with her constituencies.

“With this donation people with disabilities are on board, and can now be active players in the larger scheme of things,” she said.

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