Here's how new technologies are empowering people of determination in the UAE
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Here’s how new technologies are empowering people of determination in the UAE

Here’s how new technologies are empowering people of determination in the UAE

Tools such as assistive keyboards can create pathways for communication and learning for a wide array of people with different disabilities

Human Technology Connection

How we use technology every day is something many of us take for granted.

It’s quick and convenient to use a computer or a mobile for work, to participate in classes, pay our bills, shop online, talk to loved ones around the world, watch videos and play games.

While we don’t think twice about these everyday actions, for some people of determination, even the most basic communication can prove challenging.

They face a number of barriers that make it extremely difficult – sometimes impossible – to function in society, to communicate with those around them, or live the kind of fulfilling lives they have every right to.

However, with new and adaptive technologies that keep their unique challenges in mind, we can provide a voice to those who don’t have one and open doorways that enable them to participate in life.

Inclusion is one of the most valuable societal practices. Integrating people of determination into schools and workplaces is especially important to increase acceptance and understanding.

From my own personal experience growing up in Brazil, our classrooms didn’t have children with disabilities, so we had no understanding of how to interact with them when we met them – something which is likely the case for many adults today. By bringing all children into one classroom, whether from diverse backgrounds or differently abled, we can teach people from an early age not only how to interact with anyone who may be different from themselves, but that everyone, regardless of their abilities, has value and can contribute to society.

This is something that the UAE understands well.

In 2008, the Ministry of Community Development began integrating people of determination into the public education system. Since then, numerous initiatives were launched to pave the way for people of determination to realise their full potential in education, careers, health and more.

It can prove difficult to fully integrate people who have disabilities that affect their motor skills.

What’s important to remember is that limited physical ability does not necessarily impact a person’s desire to learn, to explore the world, to be productive, and most importantly, to experience autonomy.

This is where digital accessibility comes in, with tools such as assistive keyboards, which can create pathways for communication and learning for a wide array of people with different disabilities.

Using technology to give people of determination equal access to education and employment provides them with the motivation to live life as a fully functional member of society, where they can participate and experience life just like anyone else.

According to the UAE Minister of Community Development, Hessa Buhumaid, as of March 2019, 93 per cent of Emirati people of determination were unemployed.

Smart solutions have the potential to increase job accessibility and create financial security and independence for people of determination, which is something Key2Enable hopes to contribute to as a member of the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) Accelerator programme, an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Finance.

We have brought Key2Enable to the UAE through the MBRIF Accelerator programme, so that we can use our technology to benefit the local community. They not only believe in our vision, but have been instrumental in driving our mission to provide digital accessibility and inclusion to people of determination.

As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve all experienced isolation, albeit temporarily.

The World Economic Forum has called global lockdowns ‘the world’s biggest psychological experiment’, as people in quarantine are more likely to develop psychological issues such as insomnia, stress, anger or depression.

If those are the expected effects of being made to stay home for a limited period of time, imagine being permanently locked in your own body for your whole life, unable to communicate with the outside world on your own, always relying on others for what the rest of us take for granted every day.

That is why creating inclusive societies that champion accessibility and opportunities for people of determination should be a priority, leveraging technology as a key enabler of accessible reform, and ultimately supporting their journey towards autonomy and realising their full potential.

José Rubinger Filho is the co-founder and CCO at Key2Enable

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