The blind and visually impaired community in Qatar will soon have access to the latest assistive information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Qatar Social Cultural Centre for the Blind, the Supreme Council for Information and Communication Technology (ictQatar), and Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center).
The agreement will see the establishment of state of the art computer labs, equipped with the latest assistive technology for the visually impaired at the Qatar Social Cultural Centre of Qatar in Doha. As part of the MOU, ictQatar provided a 600,000 QAR grant to cover all costs for the computer labs, and Mada committed to providing ongoing support and training on the new technology being installed.
“The commitments shown by ictQatar and Mada are critical to our efforts to use technology to improve the lives of visually impaired people in Qatar. We look forward to working with them in carrying out our mission of ensuring blind people in Qatar are fully ingrained parts of our vibrant society,” said Hassan Ibrahim Al Kuwari, Chairman of the Qatar Social Cultural Centre for the Blind.
Some of the equipment that will be included in the computer lab includes Braille output devices, which transfer any content that appears on a computer screen into a series of raised dots which can then be read by touching them, as well as Braille embossers, interactive smart boards, screen readers and new desktop computers. Two labs will be constructed, one designed specifically for women, and one for all users.
“Bringing the benefits of technology to everyone in Qatar is a key focus of all of ictQatar’s efforts. Working with community partners, such as the Qatar Social Cultural Centre for the Blind and Mada is one of the most powerful ways to truly improve lives. Access to technology and the Internet should be equal for everyone, and ictQatar is committed to ensuring this is the case in Qatar through the implementation of the national e-Accessibility policy” said Robin Blake, ictQatar Executive Director of ICT & Society.
Mada’s CEO David Banes said, “Working with the Qatar Social Cultural Centre for the Blind allows us to directly impact the lives of the visually impaired in Qatar in a way that increases their opportunities in education and employment.”
The Qatar Social Cultural Centre for the Blind plans to connect a greater number of its users, which regularly use the space to exchange ideas and share experiences, to the world the Internet and other forms of digital content, such as e-books. Currently, the Center serves approximately 100 people on a regular basis.
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