The elderly in Qatar stand to gain from Mada’s (Qatar Assistive
Technology Centre) ‘guides to ageing and technology’, scheduled to be
launched on November 12 and 28 with the aim of improving their quality
of life, it has been announced.
Mada policy expert Ahmed Habib said yesterday that the new programmes would guide the elderly in using technology more effectively, further helping them live independently.
“We recognised that as we grow older, we may lose our vision, our hearing, our ability to move independently, many of the same principles that apply to people with disabilities (PWDs) will also apply to ageing,” Habib said, adding that this guide can be used by policy makers, service providers, caregivers and people who work with the elderly, among others.
Mada, a non-profit organisation established in June 2010 by the Ministry of Transport and Communications dedicated to connecting PWDs to the world of information and communication technology (ICT), is also currently working on how to support the elderly.
The centre is collaborating with caregivers and professionals by providing expert advice and assessment on a wide variety of ‘assistive technologies,’ which cater to persons with physical, hearing, visual and learning disabilities.
Mada provides technology through a ‘Universal Loan Programme’, whereby Qatar residents with disabilities can be provided with different access technologies based on their needs and abilities.
Habib said their new programmes and policies have been well researched, developed and published on a national level.
“Our understanding of disability is that it is caused by inaccessibility, we don’t see disability as a medical condition. So, we don’t use the medical model in understanding disability, we use what is called as the social model,” he said.
“We believe that if you would create accessible spaces, an accessible ecosystem in that environment, then PWDs will not have disabilities,” Habib pointed out. “Their functional limitations will not be an issue for them to be active participants in education or healthcare or any kind of social activities as well.”
The centre is also working on a project with the banking sector, particularly with Qatar Central Bank, aimed at improving the accessibility of automated teller machines (ATMs) to PWDs.
He said they want to ensure that ATMs, an important digital platform, he said, meet international standards for accessibility.
On December 10, the centre will be hosting the national government e-accessibility awards to recognise government websites that are most ‘e-accessible’ in the country.
Habib said they work in the area of e-accessibility – the study of creating digital content according to international e-accessibility standards.
“For example, if a person is blind and is using a screen reader to read contents on a website, because he is unable to see it, that website needs to be designed in a way that meets international standard for web accessibility,” he explained.
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