Following the principle of providing equal access to information, Türk Telekom launched Turkey’s first Telephone Library project - Books on the Phone - in collaboration with Boğaziçi University’s Technology and Education Laboratory for the Visually Impaired (GETEM). Thanks to the Telephone Library Project, visually impaired Türk Telekom customers can access hundreds of audio books for free by dialing 0 800 219 91 91 from their home phones. Visually impaired Türk Telekom customers first subscribe to GETEM and then receive a password to access audio books free of charge.
Currently, the Telephone Library consists of more than 1 thousand audio books and other content in more than 50 categories, including poetry, novels, history, personal development, and practice exams, as well as movies with narration. Users can mark their place in an audio book and resume listening from the same point, rewind or fast forward, as well as slow down or speed up audio book playback, and find books easily via the audio menu. In 2017, Books on the Phone project launched “Talking Paintings”, a descriptive gallery that enables visually impaired users to listen to descriptions of 20 famous paintings. On September 11-17, a physical version of the exhibition was held at Uniq İstanbul to reach out to more art enthusiasts. Celebrities from media, arts and politics also voluntarily read out texts on various works of art within the scope of Talking Paintings. For instance, the Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ahmet Arslan read out the verbal depiction for Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror on display at London’s National Gallery. Other contributing celebrities included Haluk Bilginer, Mustafa Sandal, Jülide Ateş, Nazlı Çelik, Arda Türkmen, Gülay Afşar, Cem Öğretir, Özge Uzun, Şeref Oğuz and Arzum Onan.The Talking Paintings exhibition was visited by 6 thousand people. Telephone Library, launched during the “Talking Paintings” exhibition at Unique Maslak, will continue to deliver innovative services in 2018 that facilitate the daily lives of visually impaired citizens. To help visually impaired citizens access the latest news, the Company joined forces with Anadolu Agency, integrating leading news stories with the library. Telephone Library was listened to for 5 million minutes, while the mobile app developed in 2016 was downloaded more than 17 thousand times and Voice to Books app -making it easier for volunteers to read out books for the visually impaired- was downloaded more than 15 thousand times. Cash recognition feature was added to Türk Telekom’s Telephone Library app developed for the visually impaired acquired a banknote recognition feature at end-November. The cash recognition function allows the visually impaired to make payments with ease at shops, supermarkets and in taxis, or whenever required, even when they are offline. Developed in response to the demands, suggestions and completed questionnaires of the visually impaired, this is currently Turkey’s one and only cash recognition app. At the 16th edition of the Gold Compass Turkey Public Relations Awards organized by Turkish Public Relations Association (TÜHİD), the Telephone Library/Talking Paintings app was awarded the Special Jury Prize. Furthermore, as an app that upholds sustainable development targets by eradicating inequalities and contributing to equal opportunities in access to information, Telephone Library was accepted to the Business Call to Action (BCtA) program for its support for the social participation of disadvantageous/low income groups, marking an important international achievement. At the prestigious European award event, the “European Excellence Awards”, the “Talking Paintings” project received Turkey’s Best Project Award.
Life is Simple with Internet:
Addressing people unfamiliar with, and thus unable to utilize the potential of internet, “Life is Simple with Internet” project acquaint them with the online world via internet literacy training programs. The Project is carried out with the cooperation of Türk Telekom, Habitat Association, and the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). The main purpose of the Project is to provide everyone an equal opportunity to access information by eliminating regional and economic inequalities. Therefore, the primary target group consists of adults, and especially women, aged over 25, who live in priority cities for development - 54 cities in total, and who either lack, or have limited internet skills. To date, 30 thousand people have become internet literate. In 2017, a mobile app was developed for the project so that everyone can access its educational content anywhere. The mobile app also has an Arabic version so as to offer practical solutions to refugees in their daily lives via internet.
Launched in 2014, the Sunlight Project is designed to provide assistance at an early stage to children with limited vision so that they can live without dependency on others, and attend integrated schools, instead of schools for the visually impaired.
In Turkey all children vision is below a certain threshold are normally classified as “fully blind” and sent to schools for the visually impaired. The Sunlight Project helps to identify the vision level of children with visual impairment and to increase the awareness to use their visual skills effectively. The Sunlight Project is the only such project in Turkey offering distance early response education thanks to Türk Telekom’s technology and infrastructure. In 2017, 700 children overall from 81 provinces in total have received this special education for individuals with limited sight. Within the framework of his project, Türk Telekom developed and launched the Sunshine Game application, which aims to help children with limited sight improve their visual abilities and eyehand coordination. To date, the application has been downloaded 2 thousand times. The Sunlight Project was deemed worthy of the “Best Social Responsibility Project” award at the Best Business Awards, organized by UK’s prestigious award and assessment company Awards Intelligence.
The Loud Steps:
Loud Steps is a smartphone app that allows the visually and hearing impaired to move around in complex structures such as shopping malls, campuses and airports without requiring outside assistance. The app allows the visually impaired to find their destination in public areas by themselves without the assistance of others, and to comprehend their surrounding at any given moment. The project was launched in 2014. Independent of telecoms operators, the Loud Steps app provided voice only directions to the visually impaired in 2014 over their smartphones depending on their location; but started to provide this service to the hearing impaired through simple icons in 2017. The app is available in 47 buildings such as Chicago Lighthouse, İstanbul Technical University, Kars Governor’s Office, Ulu Mosque, San Francisco Lighthouse and Ministry of Youth and Sports. The app has been downloaded by 30 thousand individuals and used 200 thousand times to date.