Zayed University facilitates the inclusion of special needs in education


April 07, 2015

To ensure that all students with disabilities have access to the same opportunities as their fellow students, Zayed University in cooperation with its Office of Accessibility held a three-day training event in Abu Dhabi campus recently.

The three- day event was inaugurated by Professor Reyadh AlMehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University and focused on using mobile technology to achieve full inclusion for special needs students. Dr. Luis Perez, an expert in Assistive Technology and Inclusion at the department of Special Education in the University of South Florida and an Apple distinguished educator, delivered a speech on the methods of inclusion for special needs students.

Dr. Luis, who is vision impaired; 10 per cent vision, strongly believes that students with disability can still actively contribute to the society.

“The three-day event showcased a large number of accessibility features that are already built into iPads, iPhones, and Macs such as Voice Over, Rotor and Braille. It is important for institutions and those working with special needs students to become aware that these features already exist and it is not always necessary to purchase additional applications,” Bryan Gilroy, Assistant Provost of Academic Success at Zayed University, said.

Gilroy, who also organized the training event, added: “The event aims to provide further training to Zayed University’s Apple Professional Developers, Office of Accessibility staff and faculty, who work with special needs students at the university.”

The training event was also attended by representatives from the Sharjah Humanitarian City, Ministry of Education and Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC).

“The workshop was one of the most inspiring training sessions I have ever attended. Dr. Perez wanted to transform learning for all students because features that are commonly seen as assistive for learners with disabilities are features that may help all students. By the end of the session, I was enthusiastic to design materials that can transform the learning experience for all students,” Nicholas Yates, Instructional Designer at the Center for Educational Innovation in Zayed University, said.

“I see a lot of potential in TouchCast application, a new medium that looks like a video, but feels more like a web. It promotes user engagement through creating Internet videos with fully interactive, live web elements for teachers and students alike,” Yates added.

The workshop was open to guests from external organizations as well as Zayed University participants.

Shamsa Abdulla Al Mehairi, Zayed University student, said: “I am pleasantly surprised to learn that Dr. Perez is a photographer. As a visually impaired individual, I used to rely on sighted people to capture and edit photos with my iPhone. However, I realized now that there are a plenty of accessibility features that can allow me to take professional pictures independently.”