KUALA LUMPUR – Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank today announced the launch of an inclusive financial literacy initiative for the visually impaired community under its financial literacy ‘HLB DuitSmart’ CSR platform.
“In developing the financial literacy content in audio format for English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin, the Bank worked closely with several blind associations in Malaysia. The associations will then convert the content into Braille, providing access to the visually impaired community with Braille language skills to benefit from the material,” the Bank said in a statement.
Visually impaired individuals often face more challenges in navigating a world that does not cater to their needs. This, accompanied by the lack of access to financial literacy content creates additional disadvantages, making them less likely to be able to access financing compared to individuals without disabilities.
In Malaysia, it is estimated that less than 10% of visually impaired citizens are registered with the Welfare Department, creating significant challenges in appropriate educational outreach while just an estimated 30% of the community has been educated in reading Braille. These underlying literacy challenges make access to financial literacy an even greater burden.
Zalman Zainal, Chief Marketing & Communication Officer of HLB emphasises the importance of having the ability to make the right financial decisions starts with understanding the basic elements of financial knowledge.
“We are working closely with the blind associations to ensure that the resources Hong Leong Bank offers actively engages and educates their community members. As we continue to advocate financial literacy among Malaysians, we want to ensure the access to financial literacy is inclusive of everyone, including the visually impaired community, whose accessibility is quite limited.
“The Bank’s initiative will start off with 30 financial literacy articles in audio format in the areas of Understanding Common Financial Jargon, Investment and Savings, Financing, Scams, Emergency Fund Planning and EPF Members Entitlement. These audio files were recorded in-house by our staff who had volunteered for this special project.”
The Bank said “In addition to challenges accessing financial education, Malaysia’s visually impaired community also faces difficulties in access to financing. In June 2020, HLB took measures to bridge this gap, introducing the nation’s first talking ATM for the visually impaired community in branches in Brickfields and Pulau Tikus. These talking ATMs offer audio support in Bahasa Melayu, English and Mandarin, with adaptive software and supporting hardware such as headphone jacks.”