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Innovative Center for Assistive Technology Opens in Qatar
Mada Connects People with Disabilities to the Technologies that Can Improve Their Lives
People living with disabilities in Qatar now have access to a valuable new Center for Assistive Technology, Mada, which opened to the public on June 1, 2010. Mada is an innovative center that strives to connect people with disabilities to the information and communications technologies (ICT) that can empower them to excel in all aspects of their life.
"For someone living with a disability, integrating into a work place, or learning in a classroom is often a challenge. But with the of use Assistive Technologies, many of these challenges can be overcome, and people with disabilities can become full participants in all facets of society," said David Banes, Deputy Director, at the official launch of Mada. "We invite all people with disabilities and their families to visit our center and discover the variety of Assistive Technologies available."
Mada, a non-profit organization, includes an interactive resource center that showcases the latest Assistive Technologies (AT) and offers personal consultations for people with disabilities to identify the AT solutions that can best fit their needs, as well as training on how to use the various technologies. Mada, which also features an accessible library, is designed to be a barrier free space for people with a wide range of disabilities.
Some of the technologies exhibited at Mada include eye gaze control systems, which allow individuals to control a computer and communicate with only the movement of their eyes; accessible mobile phones adapted for a range of disabilities; a wide variety of screen readers; and augmented and alternative communication technologies, which help replace written and spoken communication.
ictQATAR's Secretary General, Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, who played an integral role in establishing Mada and serves as the Chair of its Board of Directors, said "The opening of Mada is an important milestone for helping Qatar be truly equitable and accessible for all. Mada is the result of tireless efforts by its talented team and the support of its many public and private partners here in Qatar. I am truly inspired by the work Mada is doing to bring the benefits of technology to those with disabilities and look forward to watching the center evolve and act as a model of excellence for the entire region."
Al-Jaber is joined on the Board of Directors by H.H. Sheikha Hessa bint Khalifa Al Thani, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability; Hassan Ali Bin Ali, Chairman, Shaffalah Center; Ali Shareef Al Emadi, Group CEO, Qatar National Bank; Dr. Nasser Marafih, CEO, Qtel; Grahame Maher, CEO, Vodafone Qatar; and Mohammed Hammoudi, Country Manager, Microsoft.
Mada is working closely with numerous organizations supporting people with disabilities in Qatar in both the public and private sectors. These organizations have been a valuable resource in the development of the center, and will play a major role in identifying cutting-edge Assistive Technologies and referring people to Mada.
Mada is located on the seventh floor of Al Nasr Tower and is open from Sunday to Thursday, throughout the day.