Nov 17, 2019

Ms. Mona Abdul Karim Al Yafei, Director of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS), has praised the “Accessibility to Knowledge Content for Persons with Disabilities” conference, which the Hashemite University organized from November 13 to 14, 2019, at the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The University organized the conference in presence of Dr. Kamal Al-Din Hani, President of the University, Dr. Mohanned Salah Al-Azzeh, Secretary General of the Jordanian Supreme Council for Persons with Disabilities, and Dr. Khulood Al-Dababneh, Dean of Queen Rania College for Childhood and the President of the Conference. More than 70 specialists and researchers from 14 Arab and foreign countries participated as well.

Ms. Mona made this acclaim during SCHS distinguished participation in the conference with a delegation, which she headed.  The delegation included Ms. Safeya Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Acting Head of SCHS IT Department, Ms. Rabab Abdul Wahab, Head of Assistive Technology Center, and Ms. Heba Eassa Al Humrani , Administrative and Financial Manager.

Al-Yafie, who was a Key speaker in the “Accessibility to Knowledge Content for Persons with Disabilities” conference, has confirmed that United Arab Emirates has been embracing its children with disabilities. More than 700 persons attended conference-opening ceremony.  In addition, she has confirmed that Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services is a leading organization in advocating, including, and empowering persons with disabilities.  SCHS has been offering high quality services to its students with disabilities according to the best international practices so they become active members in their society.

She pointed out the importance of the conference in discussing the most important services and keeping up with the best international practices not only in the field of education and training, but also in the various fields that people with disabilities need in their lives in general.

She said, “When we talk about accessibility, we all have the idea of making modifications to buildings and facilities, which is true.  However, persons with disabilities need far more than that. Since its inception in 1979, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services has been offering services to the deaf and hard of hearing and people with intellectual disabilities.  Then, SCHS offered other services as needed”.

She added, “SCHS started with a unique step, which is the removal of environmental barriers and publishing books that helped engineers in making designs and create standards in order to give to municipalities”.

In her speech, Ms. Mona explained that talking about accessibility includes working, learning by using sign language or Braille, and integrating students with disabilities at all levels as well as using technology to empower them. By doing so, it becomes easy to integrate and empower persons with disabilities into the society like their non-disabled peers.  All laws around the world grant this right.

Al-Yafei mentioned a number of SCHS many achievements in this field such as His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, initiative after announcing the results of Sharjah Census 2015.  His Highness ordered the provision and facilitation of all needs, whether it was compensatory devices or modification of the physical environment in the housing for all persons with physical disabilities and the provision of special vehicles for mobility, etc.  This has helped the disabled to live with dignity and independence.

In addition, SCHS signed a number of agreements with some institutions inside and outside the country.  SCHS has offered assistive technologies on concessional terms by signing a memorandum with Sharjah Islamic Bank (May 2017) to provide financing services without profits or fees for SCHS employees, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and other groups.

As for the provision of banking services to persons with different types of disabilities, Sharjah Islamic Bank has launched in cooperation with SCHS, the first ATM machine of its kind in the Middle East in January 2018. This machine serves several persons with different types of disabilities at the same time. It includes persons with visual impairment, people with physical, and learning disabilities.  SCHS established Assistive Technology center in March 2014, which was the first of its kind in the UAE. The center provides a conducive educational qualified environment for its students to stay tuned with the latest developments in the field and benefit 150 students.

Finally, Al-Yafei pointed to a kind of barriers that have the same negative impact as environmental barriers that people must overcome to ensure that persons with disabilities have easy access to all physical and knowledge environments.  They are psychological and moral barriers that relate to the extent to which we accept the presence of persons with disabilities in our surroundings.

Ms. Safeya Mohammed Al Marzouqi, Acting Head of SCHS IT Department, has presented a working paper on the role of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services in delivering knowledge content using technology.  She has confirmed that United Arab Emirates takes good care of the development of persons with disabilities skills and abilities through its initiatives and strategic objectives in accordance with Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 on the rights of persons with disabilities as amended by Federal Law No. 14 of 2009 for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities.

Al Marzouqi talked about the rapid development of technology, which led to the development of systems and the activation of policies and laws that lead to easy access to the content of knowledge for persons with disabilities throughout the use of Assistive Technology and available digital media.

Al Marzouqi has confirmed that Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services under the honorary presidency of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler, is inspiring positivity and motivating competitive spirit through its leadership in empowering, educating, and training persons with disabilities, throughout the use of modern technology.

Safeya’s working paper tackled the history of technical development in Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services over the past 40 years and the aspects of using technology in communicating knowledge content to people with disabilities. In addition, the working paper provided a brief review of the techniques used in SCHS, which has resulted in the establishment of several centers, most notably the Center for Assistive Technologies and conducting several international partnerships with leading institutions in the field of technology. More than 70% of SCHS students benefited from the services, which support accessibility to knowledge content.

For her part Ms. Rabab Abdul Wahab, Head of Assistive Technology Center, presented a working paper on implementing environmental accessibility measures and the concept of Universal Design in general.  The paper discusses measures of accessibility in buildings and urban environments in particular as well as the impact of providing an accessible environment on the quality of life for persons with disabilities in areas of education, economic empowerment, independent living, and entertainment.

Ms. Rabab working paper discussed Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services practices to assess accessibility measures in buildings by following local and international standards in a systematic way to improve accessibility for all users.