Venezuelan State to Produce Affordable Mobile Phones for the Blind

On Sunday President Hugo Chavez announced that the state-owned Vtelca, which manufactures the subsidised and very affordable ‘Vergatario’ phone, will now also manufacture a phone designed for blind people.

By Tamara Pearson – Venezuelanalysis.com

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Chavez with the cell phone designed for blind people (MCTI).
Chavez with the cell phone designed for blind people (MCTI).
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Mérida, January 25th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Sunday President Hugo Chavez announced that the state-owned Vtelca, which manufactures the subsidised and very affordable ‘Vergatario’ phone, will now also manufacture a phone designed for blind people. 

The phone’s keys have Braille system on them and are also much larger for those with weak sight. 

Chavez explained that the phone is the result of an agreement between Venezuela and China, uses the “latest technology” and will be available “soon”. 

“This is the first phone of its kind in the country,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries, Vtelca has beaten its production records, producing over 6,000 phones daily by the end of 2010.

The Vergatario phones – which include a camera – are distributed by the state run company, Movilnet, for Bs 25 (US$ 5.80), including the line and plan, with priority given to communal council spokespeople. On Sunday Chavez also announced that this phone will be released with a new “more elegant and modern” design.

The Vergatario was first released in May 2009.

One of the main aims of the Venezuelan government and the Bolivarian Revolution is to increase inclusion of previously excluded sectors of the population, such as women, the poor, and people with disabilities.

The People with Disabilities Law, passed in 2006, states that at least 5% of workers employed by any given entity must be people with disabilities. In 2009 the government began to set up coordination centres for people with disabilities as a space for project generation and to help public and private institutions accommodate disabled people. Such centres as well as other movements and organisations of disabled people have been encouraging the formation of spokespeople for the disabled in the communal councils.

For the blind and visually impaired, Mission Milagro (Miracle) provides free eye operations, including correcting and restoring eyesight as well as providing free consultations and glasses. The learning material used by the various education missions has also been printed in Braille, and music lessons used in centres of the El Sistema music teaching program are also available in Braille.