Workshop discusses ways to make Dubai disabled-friendly

Workshop discusses ways to make Dubai disabled-friendly

Lack of skilled professionals and scarcity of local expertise in the field of social services are the main impediments in turning Dubai into a disabled-friendly city, experts say.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 19 Dec 2013, 1:22 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:15 PM

Lack of social service skills a challenge; help of educational institutions sought.

Lack of skilled professionals is one of the main impediments in turning Dubai into a disabled-friendly city, experts say.

Experts discuss strategies to make Dubai a disabled-friendly city with Khaled Al Kamda chairing the workshop. — Supplied photo

In line with the ‘My community... a city for everyone’ initiative, launched by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, last month, the Community Development Authority (CDA) held a workshop with several NGOs and service providers for people with disabilities on Tuesday.

The discussions focussed on the main challenges and priorities that should be considered in developing a comprehensive strategy to make the whole of Dubai a disabled-friendly city. The symposium stressed the need for detailed and accurate information about the disabilities in Dubai and the special requirements of the different cases, the CDA said in a Press release.

It also identified the lack of local skills in the field of social services as a main challenge that required collaboration with leading educational institutes, while work also needed to be done on the development and enforcement of policies for the protection and care of people with disabilities, on the creation of appropriate funding systems — both governmental and private — and the development services for people with disabilities once they pass the age of 16.

Experts also discussed the need for an integrated strategic plan to upgrade and implement programmes in the areas of education, rehabilitation, employment and accessibility.

Statistics from a survey conducted by the CDA earlier this year estimate that about 3.5 per cent of Dubai’s population have disabilities, amounting to 11,785 people - of whom 6,596 are UAE locals. That figure is expected to climb to about 8,000 in the next five years, according to Dubai Statistical Centre estimates.

CDA director-general Khaled Al Kamda said it was highly important to implement policies that will protect the rights of people with disabilities. The CDA has been implementing such policies guaranteeing the rights of those with disabilities, extending past the age of 18, with its inclusive strategy approved by the Executive Council last year.

“Making the whole of Dubai a disabled-friendly city, requires the combined efforts of government authorities and public benefit organisations to identify the gaps and work toward addressing them.”

The specialist disability organisations in the UAE primarily provided healthcare and day-care services, he said.

“The insufficiency of services fails to give those people opportunities to develop and live fair lives. Furthermore, all the services stop when the child reaches the age of 18, not well prepared to join higher education institutes and not skilled enough to be employed which increases his and his family psychological suffering.”

Almost 80 per cent of those with disabilities in Dubai are between the ages of 18 and 60, which mean “an immediate solution is needed to enhance their inclusion, empowerment and improve their chances to live independently,” Al Kamda said.

Representatives from Emirates Association for the Visually Impaired, Emirates Association for Deaf, Emirates Association for Autism, the Association of people with disabilities, Dubai Club for the disabled, Emirates Association for Down Syndrome, Emirates Association for Human Rights, Atheqa club for the disabled in Sharjah and the Society of Friends of Multiple Sclerosis Patients attended the symposium.

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