Lifestyle technology company Grab has enhanced its "Break the Silence" initiative to support deaf driver-partners in Malaysia and Thailand, and brought the initiative to the shores of Singapore and Indonesia. Process improvements and new features such as dedicated customer support live chat will be added to the Grab app to make it easier for Grab driver-partners to communicate with their passengers.
Additionally, Grab has also partnered with Gerkatin (Movement for the Well-Being of Deaf Indonesians) in Indonesia, Malaysia Federation of the Deaf, Singapore Association of the Deaf, and the National Association of the Deaf Thailand to better implement and advocate for inclusive practices to support the deaf and hearing-impaired in the region. Grab has over 500 deaf driver-partners on the platform and plans to double this number over the course of the coming year.
According to Grab co-founder Hooi Ling Tan, nearly 800 drivers and delivery-partners with disabilities including deafness, cerebral palsy or motor impairments, have access to income opportunities through the Grab platform currently. She said: "It is their tenacity that has helped them achieve financial independence. But inclusive platforms such as Grab that don’t discriminate, can help open the door further.”
Grab will also be launching a transport service dedicated to passengers with disabilities in two more cities in Indonesia. Named GrabGerak, the service will be available in Medan and Semarang in December 2019.
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Indonesia finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she is seeing more opportunities on how the Indonesia government can collaborate with digital companies such as Grab in education, health, and social safety net programmes. This complements the government's efforts to build the necessary conditions, such as infrastructure and human capital, for Indonesians to benefit from the digital economy. She added:
Grab diminishes the concept of ‘economy of scale’, so technology can play important role even for the smallest economic players.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Grab will also be creating The Sign Dictionary to teach people how to communicate with the deaf community through a Grab app widget, as well as conduct monthly trainings to equip driver-partners to better assist passengers with disabilities.
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The dedicated transport service for passengers with different accessibility needs is also available in Singapore and Thailand under the name of GrabAssist. Participating driver-partners undergo a special training programme that covers the handling of mobility devices, transfer assistance between the wheelchair and the vehicle, as well as basic sign language and education on potential sensitivities in communication.
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