KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 ― Visually-impaired Light Rail Transit (LRT) commuters now have access to Braille-enabled drink vending machines across Klang Valley.
The specially-designed vending machines come with Braille plates, indicator lights and motion-sensor triggered audio instructions to help the visually-impaired community purchase beverages.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between food and beverage vending operator Atlas Vending and the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) to reduce barriers facing the visually-impaired community.
In its pilot run, 11 units of the vending machines are located at selected LRT stations including around Brickfields.
The locations were chosen in consultation with MAB based on the association’s data on areas where the visually-impaired travel the most for work and social purposes.
Atlas Vending marketing and ancillary business head Amy Gan said they were delighted that the collaboration has come into fruition after months of working with MAB, from conceptualisation to prototype testing and the actual rollout.
“At each step, the feedback and suggestions from the MAB team were studied and incorporated to ensure that the final design of the machines would be truly convenient for visually-impaired customers.
“Details such as the spoken speed of the audio instructions and colours of the indicator lights were crucial guidance for us, helping our technology team to improve the physical design and software features.”
MAB chief executive officer George Thomas said they were pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with Atlas Vending on such assistive technology for the visually-impaired community.
“People do not realise that without such technology designed for our visually-impaired members, they face barriers in performing seemingly simple tasks that sighted persons may not give a second thought to, like purchasing a can of drink from a vending machine without assistance.
“At MAB, it is part of our organisation’s aim to educate and create equal opportunities for visually-impaired persons, to enable them to enjoy the same quality of life as the sighted.”
The vending machines will carry some of Malaysia’s favourite bottled and canned drinks and will have audio-guided instructions for purchasing drinks with cash and cashless payment options.
As part of the collaboration, Atlas Vending has also pledged a RM10,000 donation to MAB Covid-19 Campaign Fund that aims to help the blind community, especially those who have lost their income due to the pandemic following the implementation of the movement control order.