Batelco helps Bahrain’s blind to win employment

Thirty members of Bahrain’s blind and visually impaired population are being helped to compete in the jobs market, thanks to a training scheme run by the country's telecoms company, Batelco.

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By  David Cass Published  November 27, 2002

Thirty members of Bahrain’s blind and visually--impaired population are being helped to compete in the jobs market, thanks to a training scheme run by the kingdom's telecoms provider, Batelco.

In partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Friendship Society for the Blind and the University of Bahrain, Batelco is equipping blind people with skills to work in the fast-growing business area of customer service call-centres.

Batelco Chief Executive Tony Hart said: “Companies in Bahrain increasingly depend on skilled telephone agents as the front line in their customer service efforts. This is creating demand for people who are adept at solving complex problems over the phone.

“Blind people are experts in amassing, sifting and evaluating information simply by listening, which makes them potentially invaluable as call-centre or telephone helpdesk professionals.”

Four people per month are being trained in telephone skills, customer care and a specialist computer system that uses Braille, by which people read using touch. This advanced Braille technology allows students access to vast computerised records on a company’s customers.

Run over eight months, the course came about when Sheikha Hind, Assistant Undersecretary for Social Affairs at the Ministry of Labour, approached Batelco to help create a training course for the blind.

Mona Hatem Sultan, Manager of Batelco’s Telephony Services Helpdesk, said: “We had to come up with something original and effective, so we consulted widely with outside experts and our own employees to come up with a suitable course format.”

The Batelco project team was headed by Ali Al Kooheji and included Mona and training officers Yousef Buhassan and Wedad Mubarak. The team also worked with the call agent of the King’s office Juma Ahmed, an expert in the adopted technology - who is blind himself - and Isam Amir of the University of Bahrain.

With the structure of the course agreed, Batelco then searched far and wide for the right Braille computer interface, eventually importing four units from the UAE at a cost of BD10,000.

Once students complete the four-week training programme, they will be enabled for employment and will be helped by the Ministry of Labour to find suitable positions.

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