Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Centre) is working with a group of 60 people with disabilities (PWDs) this year to train and enhance their information, communication and technology skills.
These skills can be used by PWDs to have a competitive chance of finding a job and pursuing their careers, Mada policy expert Ahmed Habib said during a media interaction.
“We have a very large programme that we just launched this year, the idea was for us to partner with the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, to work with a group of young Qataris,” he said. “By the end of the year hopefully these 60 people will then be upskilled through our programme.”
To achieve this goal, Mada is also exerting efforts to educate the community and raise public awareness on the importance of ‘assistive technology’, which further improves the quality of life of PWDs.
More than 1,800 PWDs in Qatar have benefited from the Centre’s various initiatives last year, particularly in the e-accessibility programme. Beneficiaries received high-tech gadgets and software, as well as other equipment that suits their needs (a combination of device or software) for free.
Some of these include sound beam, an assistive technology that enables people with limited physical ability, as well as people with autism, to make music; customised keyboards, which features finger locks; and educational programmes and apps; among others.
“Some of these solutions are very simple but make a difference to someone,” Habib said. “There are thousands of apps (for PWDs) that are available that we provide for free as well.”
“All these things we provide after an assessment by an assistive technology expert so we don’t just give technology without studying and understanding what a person’s needs and abilities are, what their desires are, and what the context of using these technologies is,” Habib explained.
Mada is working with web developers and designers to ensure government websites are PWD-friendly and meet international standards for web accessibility.
“On a daily basis we monitor all of Qatar’s public sector websites, government and Ministry websites, to make sure they meet these e-accessibility standards,” Habib said.
Mada monitors the e-accessibility scores of these websites and works closely with all entities to make sure that they continue to improve. Habib added that they also work with Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) in ensuring the Metrash app is accessible to PWDs.
Mada, according to Habib, wants to ensure that the e-government portal and some of the major websites are accessible to PWDs.
“This is a service that we provide for free to developers and designers,” he stressed. “MoI is committed to e-accessibility, right now all the fees that are associated with any kind government transactions are waived for PWDS, they have a very robust accessibility kind of policy.”
“The MoI website has been certified by our team as e-accessible. Beyond that we work with them to make sure their Metrash app is e-accessible as well,” Habib added.