Professor Reyadh AlMehaideb inaugurates the Fifth International White Cane Day at Zayed University

20 Oct 2015

Zayed University has celebrated the Fifth International White Cane Day at Abu Dhabi campus under the slogan “by insight or by cane, my mobility I gain”.

The White Cane Safety Day, which is held annually by ZU, celebrates the achievements of visually impaired and blind students and emphasizes the crucial support tool of their independence, the white cane.

Professor Reyadh AlMehaideb, Vice President of Zayed University, inaugurated the event in the presence of Dr. Marilyn Roberts, Acting Provost, Fatima AlDarmaki, Assistant Provost for Students Affairs, Bryan Gilroy, Assistant Provost and Campus Director, and Fatma Al Qassimi, Manager of Accessibility Office at Zayed University.

The two-day event, which will be held in Dubai campus on Wednesday, aims to enlighten students, staff and faculty members on the best practices that can encourage and support individuals with special needs in general and visually impaired in particular. The event also provides hands-on workshops that highlight the routine activities of daily living, experiences, and challenges through the eyes of visually impaired students.

On this occasion, Professor AlMehaideb said: “Zayed University has always been committed to providing the best practices and support for students with disabilities. The White Cane Day is organized to encourage independence among special needs students with emphasis on visually impaired and to raise awareness about this segment of society, who should be integrated with their sighted peers and provided with equal educational opportunities.”  

Professor AlMehaideb also pointed out that the White Cane Day, which is held annually at ZU, aims at promoting the spirit of equality, self-help and mutual-help as well as providing opportunities and independence for visually impaired students.  

A large number of Zayed University volunteers have participated in the White Cane Day in Abu Dhabi campus. Interactive booths were installed in the female promenade and held several activities such as, eating in the dark, Braille workshop, white cane training, assistive technology workshop, low vision workshop, senses competition, and games for visually impaired students.

Many students were seen blindfolded while performing diverse tasks and activities to experience life and feelings that non-sighted people do.  

During the event, Fatima Al Qassimi said: “Under the slogan of ‘By insight or by cane, my mobility I gain,’ the Office of Accessibility brought a variety of activities and fun challenges to experience life through the eyes of a visually impaired individual.”

“One of the most difficult challenges faced by students with disabilities, especially the visually impaired students, is not being fully prepared for their college life and career. Often in schools, parents and teachers treat children with special needs with extra care and diligence, which could sometimes be harmful. Special needs individuals must rely mainly on themselves to acquire knowledge and skills”, Fatma, who organized the two-day event, added.

Additionally, Fatma has emphasized that both faculty and staff members at Zayed University have succeeded in identifying special student needs and being responsible for creating a safe, stimulating and supportive learning environment.

“Teaching quality is the key ingredient to student success. Therefore, teachers should be fully prepared, ready, willing and accountable for the achievement of learners who have disabilities. I am delighted to say that Zayed University is now a pioneer in educating students with special needs. Faculty and staff members have been engaged in many training workshops to enhance outcomes for students with disabilities and help them reach their full educational potential,” Fatma said.

With more than 100 students with disabilities at Zayed University, of which around 28 are visually impaired, the Office of Accessibility has always been committed to provide academic and social services to help them complete their studies and participate in events and activities held on campus.

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