Dubai to launch 15th autism awareness drive tomorrow - GulfToday

Dubai to launch 15th autism awareness drive tomorrow


Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter

The Dubai Autism Center on Wednesday announced that its 15th annual autism awareness campaign will be launched on April 2 on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day, under the patronage of the Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The month-long campaign aims to increase public understanding of autism, highlight the plight of families affected by autism, as well as promote community acceptance of children with the condition. The annual drive, which will feature various events and activities, is being supported by the public and private sectors and members of the community.

Mohammed Al Emadi, Director General and Board Member of the Dubai Autism Center, said: “In line with our leadership’s vision to transform Dubai into a friendly city for People of Determination, the Dubai Autism Center will kick off the campaign to highlight the importance of community support and their positive perception towards individuals with autism. The initiative seeks to promote acceptance of children with autism and create a better understanding of the characteristics of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which usually affects three primary areas: speech and communication, social interaction and behaviour.”

Al Emadi said that the campaign aims to deliver a message on the need to strengthen efforts to achieve social inclusion of individuals with autism and provide a supportive environment that meets their needs. The same level of efforts exerted to integrate people with different disabilities must be applied to achieve inclusion of those with autism, he noted.

ETISALAT LAUNCHES FREE WEB EXTENSION FOR AUTISTIC USERS: Etisalat, in partnership with the Ministry of Community Development, on Wednesday announced the launch of a first of its kind web extension aimed at simplifying the World Wide Web and making it autistic-friendly.

The launch was made earlier on Wednesday in the presence of Dr Ahmed Bin Ali, Group Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Etisalat, and Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman, Director of People of Determination Welfare and Rehabilitation Department at the Ministry of Community Development, to commemorate World Autism Acceptance Day, which falls on 2nd April.

The day aims to put a spotlight on some of the hurdles that autistic people face every day and celebrates the unique way autistic people view the world. The World Health Organisation estimates current global prevalence to range between 1 in 100 and 1 in 132 people.

A panel comprising autism specialists graced today’s virtual press conference, namely Dr. Sharifa Yateem, the first Emirati behaviour analyst certified by the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board and an autism expert; Amal Sabry, Founder and Managing Director at Emirates Autism Centre; and Dr Rawhi Abdat, a researcher and psychologist at the Ministry of Community Development.

Etisalat tapped the expertise of Brussels-based IT company Bliss to come up with a web extension aimed at empowering autistic people and personalising their browsing experience. This extension was developed in collaboration with autistic people based in the UAE and guided by global evidence-based research findings on autistic-friendly designs.

On April 2, users can log on to the website and click ‘on’ to download and activate the ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ web extension. From April 3 onwards, the web extension will remain on the Google extension page. Using the drop-down menu on Google, users can click on ‘More Tools’ and ‘Extension’. They can click on the ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ green icon, which has a description of the extension. Once activated, websites will display autistic-friendly settings such as neutral colours like dark grey or medium grey, simplified fonts, simplified menus, simplified layouts, fewer images, ad blockers, and carousel freezing to facilitate reduced sensory overload.

With Etisalat’s groundbreaking solution, autistic people worldwide can now access and activate for free the ‘Etisalat Wider Web’ extension, which instantly transforms a standard web page into an autistic-friendly one.

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