Technology empowers people of determination, says official

More digital accessibility for POD could lead to their greater inclusion in society, says CEO of Dubai Club for People of Determination


Nandini Sircar

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Majid Rashed, chief executive officer of the Dubai Club for People of Determination
Majid Rashed, chief executive officer of the Dubai Club for People of Determination

Published: Thu 16 Feb 2023, 5:03 PM

Technology and digital accessibility are leading to greater inclusion of people of determination (POD) in society, a top official has said.

Majid Rashed, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Dubai Club for People of Determination and the president of the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC), said that the tools which have been serving POD in the UAE for a long time are now becoming more user-friendly for all, creating pathways for better communication.

“Right from assistive technology to adaptive and rehabilitative technology, more facilities are being provided to the People of Determination (POD) right from their young age,” he told Khaleej Times.

Para-athlete career

Rashed who has about 10 years of experience as an elite para-athlete, began his career in 1989, in both athletics and table tennis. He quickly moved from local and national level competitions to regional and international events. Rashed was asked to manage the UAE athletics team at the 1998 Birmingham Athletics World Championships.

“I want to add that technology has given POD equal access to education, empowerment, and employment in the UAE.

“More than any other barrier, breaking the social barrier and integrating POD into society is the need of the hour. The UAE and our leadership have been working towards that through their continuous support and motivation for the People of Determination for years now. This has also helped form a physical environment that is accessible to them, while creating awareness and a change in perception in society, further boosting their confidence,” he adds.

Rashed who has also worked hard on improving his administrative skills, has been working closely with the UAE Disabled Sports Federation and the UAE NPC. He was even named the first National Ambassador from the UAE by UNICEF Gulf for his decades of work for children and children of determination in the UAE and worldwide.

in 2008, he was was named the CEO of the Dubai Club for People of Determination.

Challenges faced by POD

Speaking about the challenges faced by people of determination, he said that while for many people, their daily chores are a matter of routine, for people of determination even the most basic communication can prove difficult.

“Technology has already made everyday tasks a lot easier for everyone. It has created avenues and pathways for People of Determination to not only participate but excel in the fields of education, health, employment, sports and culture. For example, Apple has many innovative software features that introduce new ways for POD to navigate, connect, and get the most out of things. For example, the wristwatch has become more accessible than ever, for people with physical and motor disabilities.

“The Assistive Touch features of many such gadgets allow people with upper-body limb differences use their watch without ever having to touch the display or controls.”

He reiterates that with new and adaptive technologies which keep the unique challenges of POD in mind, technology companies can pave ways that enable them to participate fully in life.

“There has been a lot of innovation and modification in technology over the years. For example, big tech companies are introducing several new features such as the Live Caption feature on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, where users can follow along any audio content more easily. Then there is the VoiceOver feature which is meant for blind and low vision users.”

He said that more awareness about various kinds of technology in the market for the People of Determination will lead to their greater involvement in the community. In this regard, more adaptive technology features in devices catering to the requirements of POD could be a way forward.

“Right from my young age, technology has aided me in my everyday tasks. This includes training, competitions and now in my administrative work, including travelling across the globe. I have been using an adaptive wheelchair for a long time as well as several means of assistive technology,” said Rashed.

The law

Law No. 3 of 2022 on the Rights of People of Determination (people with disabilities) in Dubai seeks to include people of determination in the process of drafting policies and legislations that concern them or may affect their quality of life.

The law sets forth their rights and the services that relevant entities should provide them. This entails inclusive education at every stage, rehabilitation, inclusive job opportunities in all sectors, healthcare, therapeutic and social services and other services such as worship, police and legal services.

“The UAE government and our leadership have always been supportive towards POD, and this is the reason they have been able to succeed globally. Over the years, UAE and Dubai have been promoting the concept of an inclusive society through integration of the People of Determination in the society. The major success of international events for them is a sign of the country growing into one which will result in sustainable development, fostering solidarity and peace,” he added.

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