In Thailand, the majority of disabled people, such as those who are blind, missing a limb or have a deformity, still face great obstacles in employment due to a lack of opportunities to gain the necessary knowledge to become successful professionals and entrepreneurs.
“People living with a disability in our local communities are in many cases treated like second-class citizens,” observed Samrit Chapirom, Manager of the Empowerment for People with Disabilities Center and more notably, Manager of the Redemptorist Foundation for People with Disabilities (RFPD), a nonprofit focused on raising awareness of the plight of disabled people in Thailand. “They are unable to find gainful employment, and are often ignored or shunned by society. Training in ICT, business management and marketing is key to opening up more job opportunities, enabling them to become self-sufficient.”
Prawat Thammathong, a native of Srisaket province in northeastern Thailand, is someone who has been empowered to overcome his disability and pursue his own dreams through technology. Having lost both his legs—and his livelihood as a farmer—in an accident, Prawat travelled more than 600 kilometres to enrol himself in the RFPD.
The programme taught him new IT-enabled skills to help generate additional income for his family. He also learned how to launch and manage an online store, and handle all documentation using Microsoft technologies. What’s more, Prawat is now exploring new ways to further develop himself through online learning resources.
As part of the ‘YouthSpark – Enhancing ICT for Youth SMEs in Thailand’ initiative, Microsoft is actively supporting local nonprofits to deliver relevant ICT skills training for young people like Prawat. In June, two training sessions were held jointly with the RFPD and the Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM).
During the workshop, 51 young people with disabilities learned how to leverage the latest ICT tools to set up a website and boost their business startups.
Participant Pongsakorn Sakvirasuwan had always wanted to develop his own online store to support his lifelong ambition of running a motorcycle retail business. By taking part in the workshop, he not only picked up new computer skills, but also learned how to make brochures and presentations using software tools.
“By learning how to create a website for my motorcycle shop, I wanted to prove that disability is only a state of mind. As long as you believe, there is still so much that we can achieve,” said Pongsakorn, who lost the functional use of his right arm after a motorcycle accident a few years ago.
Somsak Mukdavannakorn, Microsoft Thailand’s Public Sector Director, said, “Digital literacy and the use of technology tools are vital for all businesses. As such, ICT knowledge can greatly benefit young aspiring entrepreneurs, including those living with a disability.”
Microsoft is proud to collaborate with nonprofit partners to provide the necessary tools and resources for disabled youth to realise new employment opportunities or succeed as entrepreneurs in today’s digital world.