More than two fifty hundred people attended an Assistive Technology Masterclass organized by Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, Qatar.
The Masterclass focused on the importance of Assistive Technology in supporting the needs of Autistic people. Experts in the field of Assistive Technology discussed the latest trends and best practices in using technology to support the learning and communication needs of children and young adults living with Autism.
Amanda Hartmann, a speech pathologist from Spectronics, a leading assistive technology service provider in Australia, spoke about the different ways in which technology can enrich the lives of Autistic people by providing them with the necessary tools to communicate and interact with the world around them. In particular, Hartmann spoke about the multiple uses that tablet technology, such as the iPad, can offer to parents and educators working with Autistic individuals. As well, she discussed the importance of combing high tech applications with more basic solutions, such as picture based communication tools.
“It was a real pleasure to share my experiences in the area of working with Autistic individuals with educators and parents in Qatar. Over the last few days, I have had the opportunity to meet many people who share the same concerns and deal with the same issues that parents and teachers of Autistic children face anywhere in the world,” said Amanda Hartmann.
For his part, Bryan Boyle, Head of Resource Center at Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) discussed the services that the center offers children and young adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. In particular, he highlighted some of the success stories that the Center has enjoyed by effectively implementing technology into the lives of Autistic people.
Sameera Al Qassemi, President of the Arab Autism Network, also spoke at the event. She discussed the importance of sharing experiences and resources amongst families and educators throughout the Arab World. In particular, she stressed the need for creating information resources in the Arabic language.
Currently, Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center), is in the process of working with manufacturers and developers of Assistive Technology from around the world to provide content and solutions in the Arabic language, many of which can benefit people with Autism.
To better explain the future plans of Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center) in supporting the needs of Autistic people in Qatar, David Banes, CEO, stressed the importance of Autistic people to the Center’s strategy. Speaking to an audience of professionals, caregivers, and parents, Banes outlined Mada’s commitment to different initiatives relating to Assistive Technology and Autism.
“At Mada, we recognize the need to create greater awareness around Autism and Assistive Technology in Qatar. As such, we want to be proactive in creating the resources and networks that are necessary to support parents, teachers and therapists throughout the country. We will also continue to provide assessment and training, as well as provision of much needed technologies in the hands of Autistic people nationwide,” said David Banes, CEO of Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Center).
The Masterclass on Autism and Assistive Technology was part of a series of activities coordinated with Spectronics, and included an Expert’s Meeting in which professionals from the health and education sector attended a one day detailed workshop on different ways to implement Assistive Technology in the work being done with Autistic people.
Mada also held a meeting for parents of children and young adults with Autism this past week, where parents came together and shared their experiences of caring for and support their children. At the meeting, it was agreed that a support network would be established in Qatar, where parents would meet regularly to discuss issues and share resources.
The Mada Masterclass Series will continue throughout the year, and will focus on issues relating to disability and technology. These will include environment control, e-accessibility, and accessible gaming.
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