December 8, 2021; Sharjah, UAE: Microsoft today announced its successful collaboration with Sharjah’s Al Amal School for the Deaf to deliver two days of coding training for students with hearing disabilities.
“Accessible technology is critical for the development of youth who need to overcome the additional layers of challenges that stand in their way of growth”, said Afaf Ali Al Haridi, Principal, Al Amal School for the Deaf. “Through this collaboration with Microsoft, we will be able to provide the best in training and learning experiences for one of the most in-demand skills in the digital world. All students deserve the opportunity to excel in their field of interest, as well as opportunities to equip themselves with the right tools to shape their future. Our students will now be able to develop new skills and be confident in expressing and sharing their talent with the rest of the world”.
In today’s announcement, which comes on the heels of the International Day of Persons with Disability on December 3, Microsoft explained how the training delivered to the students on 25 and 28 November was in line with the company’s ongoing leadership on accessibility issues. The sessions were designed around developing the students’ problem-solving skills and boosting their individual confidence. Over the two days, interactive teaching methods were deployed to introduce the participants to coding principles and encourage them to apply what they had learned to the design and implementation of computer games.
“More than 1 billion people around the world live with a disability, yet only an estimated one in ten have access to the assistive technologies they need”, said Ihsan Anabtawi, Chief Operating Officer and CMO at Microsoft UAE. “Additionally, it’s important to know that 70% of disability is invisible, so you don’t always know what may be a challenge for those around you, and it’s equally important to remember that disability – whether temporary, situational, or permanent – is something that can affect any of us, or someone we love, at any time. For us at Microsoft, through over 25 years of work on accessibility, we learned that people with disabilities represent one of the world’s largest untapped talent pools, and we are committed to leveraging technology to help open doors and create bigger opportunities for people with disabilities. We’re thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with and support Al Amal School and its students and are inspired by their curiosity and desire to learn and create, and hope our work can motivate others to get involved and make a difference”.
Microsoft’s approach to accessibility centres on working broadly across the company with focus on three priorities that were outlined in our recently announced 5-year commitment to bridge the disability divide: Spurring the development of more accessible technology across our industry and the economy; using this technology to create opportunities for more people with disabilities to enter the workforce; and building a workplace that is more inclusive for people with disabilities. One example on the technology front can be seen in Microsoft Teams, which includes features like live captions for meetings, high-contract mode for certain content, background blur, and the immersive reader built directly into Teams chats
“When it comes to accessibility, we believe that it is essential to delivering on our mission to “empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”, Anabtawi said. “By working together across all parts of our economy and society, both public and private sectors and also as individuals, we have an opportunity to improve inclusion of people with disabilities – or people of determination as the community is known in the UAE – for years to come – and specifically leverage the power of digital technology to enable and empower everyone to fully participate and achieve their goals and ambitions”.