We launched the findings of our research on ICT accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Myanmar on 21 August 2018 at ParkRoyal, Yangon. This was LIRNEasia’s first foray into systematically studying the subject, but will not be the last. Research from Nepal is to be released before the end of the year. We decided to embark on this study in Myanmar following questions on disability specific research from the audience at courses we conducted for Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) and Members of Parliament when we presented the findings of our broader research on ICTs in Myanmar. As a result, we conducted qualitative research with 101 respondents with visual, hearing and physical disabilities in May 2018.
In a wide-ranging interview, Htaike Htaike Aung and Phyu Phyu Thi talk about MIDO and how they approach policy problems in the ICT space. The article.
UN ESCAP has just put up a video of an interview I gave them a while back. Listening to it again, it seems that they succeeded in getting me to weave together a number of strands of work undertaken by LIRNEasia over the years, including broadband quality of service, importance of low-cost reliable international backhaul, and broadband eco systems. The one additional element is a discussion of leaders of tomorrow, making reference to MIDO and what’s happening in Myanmar as well our work with big data. This starts midway in the interview (2:28). I did not recall this part.
This past week, a three-day tech camp for persons with disabilities was held in Yangon. Around 50 participated in this tech camp representing different disability organisations. Half of the participants were from Yangon, while the rest of the participants were from other areas of Myanmar. Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO, with help from our invaluable disabilities consultant Nirmita Narasimhan, made a well received presentation on how ICT applications in the local languages can be used to make persons with disabilities (any disability) more independent. This was a continuation, and one of the most gratifying outcomes, of Nirmita’s work in Yangon a few months back during which both Htaike Htaike and I received a superb training in how ICTs can be used to make information societies more inclusive.
below is the long version of the pitch we made to the Stockholm Internet Forum. Hopefully, it will gain enough votes to be included. Billions are yet to be connected to the Internet. Some lessons can be drawn from the case of the previous success story of connecting billions to voice telephony. For example, from experience with industry-specific taxes and universal service funds we have a much better understanding of how taxes and subsidies are likely to affect access to and affordability of Internet.
We tried very hard to get the Teleuse in Myanmar research findings disseminated before the big tidal wave of the 2015 Myanmar Election rolled in, washing away all else. But we were not completely successful and were somewhat disappointed in the amount of coverage we received. So we were very pleased to see the data being used in conversations about the election: Since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in 2014, unprecedented numbers of Myanmar citizens have obtained mobile phones, and with that internet access. A recent survey conducted by LIRNEasia on Myanmar’s ICT development found that 58 percent of households have access to a SIM card and 57 percent to a mobile phone handset. The survey also found that 17 percent of all phone owners use the Facebook application, behind only those using “Voice over IP” applications such as Viber and Skype (24 percent) and chat applications like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger (20 percent).
The first nationally representative survey of ICT use in Myanmar was conducted by LIRNEasia in Feb/March of 2015. The results were presented to stakeholders at a series of events and meetings held in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw between the 28 – 30 July 2015. Download report here The links provide the updated slide-set, detailed methodology note, questionnaire in English and in Myanmar language. Media ICT Survey: LIRNEasia nationwide ICT survey results released| Mitv News, Myanmar | July 29th 2015 LA on Democracy Today, Myanmar | August 6th 2015 LA on the Mobile Guide, Myanmar | August 5th LA survey data being referenced in an item about hate speech on Facebook | Eleven News, Myanmar |September 13th 2015 The English translation of this item can be found here.
Half of LIRNEasia will be in Yangon next week. Together wiith our lead partner MIDO and our principal funder IDRC, we will conduct a series of activities that mark a deepening of our three-year old engagement with Myanmar’s reform process intended to build a modern network nation. The work program is described here. The highlight of the week’s activities will be the presentation of the results of our baseline survey in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. I will be speaking on universal service at the A4AI event on the 27th.
The first translation of the book Information lives of the poor, co-authored by Laurent Elder, Rohan Samarajiva, Alison Gillwald and Hernan Galperin and published by IDRC, was ceremonially released in Yangon at an event on the 25th of July. The picture shows one of the co-authors handing over the book to H.E. Mark McDowell, Canada’s Ambassador to Myanmar. MIDO, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization, produced the Myanmar version.