Youth: Open Space #18 : Youth, Disability, and Digital Entrepreneurship

Published by AYF Secretariat on

2022-03-05 14.39.34

The 18th Youth: Open Space provides a platform for youth record youth’s views on disability and digital entrepreneurship. As the digitalization of  the  world  continues  to  expand  into many aspects of young people’s lives, competitive self-learning and skill enhancement programs are becoming scarcely offline. Youth are instead being thrust into digital learning programs that facilitate their capacity building and development on effective use of technology.  Fortunately, this digital era also provides a wave of new opportunities for young people to venture into entrepreneurship opportunities provided they have the access and skill to work in the digital space. In tapping into the digital space, youth must have the skill to access digital platforms that facilitates relevant parties to either share information, trade, or offer services.  This is why, it is crucial for self-learning and skill enhancement platforms and information on digital learning programs to be available and disseminated or promoted in an accessible manner for everyone, including for youth with disabilities.

The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint (AEC) 13 of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 (“Masterplan”) encourages Information Communications and Technology that is inclusive through the improvement of accessibility and usability for Persons with Disabilities. Furthermore, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 25 for the Masterplan promotes inclusive skills training on entrepreneurship including among others, raising awareness on information and technology in a competitive and dynamic economic landscape. In support of the implementation of these blueprints, ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) collaborates with the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) to create an inclusive platform for youth with and without disabilities to partake in discussions relating to accessing their right to explore entrepreneurship opportunities using digital technology.

On the 27th of February (Sunday), around 45 youth in Southeast Asia attended the session. The participating youth are coming from 9 countries, which are Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, The Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. It was an entirely youth-led discussion, co-hosted by Arie (Indonesia), Ruslina (Thailand), Duc (Vietnam), and Rosa (Indonesia). This open space is a collaboration of AYF, AGENDA, IFES, and Australian Aid.

Below are some of the findings from the quick polling during the open space:

  • 55% of participants think that digital platforms are enabling enough for youth to learn to be an entrepreneur.
  • Majority of participants think that entrepreneurship related digital platforms right now are not accessible for youth in general, especially youth with disabilities.
  • 95% of youth think all digital platforms should be designed to have accessibility features for people with disabilities.
  • 55% of youth say that there are not enough capacity building programs for youth with disabilities to economically participate in the digital space, and 20% of youth admit that they are not aware of existing capacity building programs.
  • 100% of participants agree that ASEAN member states should provide regular training/mentoring programs for youth with disability to participate in digital economic activities.
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Here are some highlights from the session

Government could encourage e-commerce companies to provide disability friendly feature

Fransisca Rismarum

Challenges or Struggles can be based on the factors below 1. electricity 2. Internet 3. Information Accessibility 4. financial needs 5. technological challenges and barriers. Government should allocate additional financial resources for social inclusion aspects in any development program.

Khin Phyu Phyu Thandar, Myanmar

Another struggle in digital learning is inclusivity in terms of addressing the participants with the right pronouns and offering sign and local language interpreters.

Ricardo, Timor-Leste


In Laos, most of the business is family business so they do not like to hire new labor because they want to reduce the cost. It is even more difficult for people with disabilities. It is not easy when we try to build and match the skill of the youth with the market demand and it is even harder when we try to help or hire people with disabilities. We have to provide facilities for people with disabilities to access education and the workplace. It is not easy to build trust among the business owners so that they want to hire them. I think it is because some people still see people with disabilities as a burden.I also think of providing them with entrepreneur skills so that they can be business owners and not to work under others. As someone stated before, providing them with the online platform is still difficult because different disabilities need different learning platforms.

Viriya Vilavongsa, Lao PDR

One of the challenges or struggles I have experienced as a university student is financial problems. Sometimes an online course requires us to pay fees to access the course. As a university student, I do not have much money to pay for that. 

My Van Nguyan, Vietnam

it is good that we think of and consider people with disabilities but they will face problems and still have limited access when accessing digital platforms. I mean different disabilities have different needs. For example, visually impaired people, as we know, cannot see and they can only hear, so there will be technical problems. Hearing impaired people also need a sign language interpreter. They will also face a financial problem if they cannot afford the digital platform or gadgets to access those training sessions. Unlike us, they cannot easily access the digital learning platform.

I think people with disabilities want to start a business and do not want to be dependent on others or they do not want to work as an employee. However, I do not think they will have access to those trainings because this is challenging for them. I am not sure that those trainings are accessible for them. In other words, the training organizers have not prepared the training to be accessible for people with disabilities. To sum up, I think the challenges faced by people with disabilities are the information that they can reach and the financial needs.

Khin Phyu Phyu Thandar, Myanmar

I learn digitally through online class. I am a first year university student so I am learning online through Zoom.  Sometimes I do a synchronized learning method where I watch a video and answer a question that pops up on the video. I also join some online courses like Coursera.

Disya Shaliha, Indonesia

I guess my main learning source is YouTube and also some online international programs or class. I am sorry if I stutter a lot. I think it is fun and so far I have not been discriminated a lot. The internet is a really nice place for me to learn and get to know about other cultures, for example, the forum that I am in right now.

Julia Muyco, The Philippines

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