Qatar’s vision to empower and enable people with disabilities through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is receiving a boost with Mada, the Qatar Assistive Technology Centre. Since the non-profit organization opened on June 1 this year, a number of individuals have benefited from its state-of-the-art resource centre, described as the region’s only one of its kind.
The centre features interactive assistive technology (AT) environments for the visually impaired, hearing impaired, learning disabled and people with disabilities.The Mada resource centre is a showcase of cutting-edge technology, including computer software that reads the screen for the blind, eye tracking devices that allows to control a computer with eye movement, voice recognition, switch solutions that allow a computer to be controlled with a single movement such as sipping or blowing through a tube and word prediction.
There are separate workstations for individuals with hearing, visual, learning or physical disabilities. Screenreader solutions such as Ibsar and Jaws enables blind users to read, on their own, printed books and documents as well as electronic files. Ibsar helps them write texts in both Arabic and English, in addition to saving and printing these texts in Braille. The software speaks the text on a computer screen in both Arabic and English. With a screenreader a blind user is able to access the Internet and read websites, or send, receive and manage e-mail.The Tobii eye-tracking computer allows someone with no physical control of their body, other than eye movement to take control of a computer through which they can communicate, control the environment, browse the web and even play games.