Qatar is becoming more accessible to everyone!

By Noor Odeh

Qatar National Library held an event “Bridging gaps, enabling inclusion for the blind” about accessibility to information for people who are blind and visually impaired, on Monday, October 15, 2018.

This event welcomed guests from associations and societies who aim for the same goal, making Qatar more and more accessible every day. The Amir H.H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued an accession document approving State of Qatar’s accession to the Marrakesh Treaty.

The Marrakesh Treaty is also formally known as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The purpose of the Treaty is to end book famine by people who are blind. Qatar wants to work in order to achieve that same goal.

Patrice Landry (above), Chief Librarian and Deputy Director, welcomed the 80 people or so who attended the event. In his speech, he addressed many people including those who are blind, deaf and physically disabled. He advocates that everyone needs to have access to information, regardless of their disability. He said, “If it’s not accessible, then the book has not been published yet.”

Phinda Vilakazi (above), Vice President of Sasol Energy gave a brief speech about how crucial it is for everyone to have access to knowledge in all societies across the world. He said, “Everybody has the right to play an active role in the society.” To achieve that, there needs to be braille books for people who are blind or vitually impaired to access information from.

Blind students from Al Noor Institute preformed a song for the audience about Qatar. Check out the video by clicking here!

Five different representatives came to talk about their companies and how they aid and support people with disabilities, one of whom is Jack Saba, General Manager of Public Affairs at Sasol.

Saba talked about an accessibility app called “Accessible Qatar” for places in Qatar. He described it as “TripAdvisor app for people with disabilities.” It’s an app that helps people with different disabilities to learn if the places they want to visit in Qatar are accessible for them. Saba said, “When we give them [people with disabilities] the information, we give them their rights.” 

Saba said, in their app, they have around 150 locations in Qatar and their accessibility reports that Sasol conducted. 

The event had a good turn up, there were people with all forms of disabilities, including a blind, young Qatari female who was the keynote speaker at the event, Kholood Abu Sharida, Accessible Qatar Ambassador.

She starred in short films about how people with disabilities are not any different than able-bodied people. She said that she wants Qatar to attend to the needs of people with disabilities, such as having braille menus in restaurants, having audio-described movies in theatres, etc. 

The event gave our community a chance to learn more about how we can all access information from books to obtain knowledge, regardless of how we are shaped. One day, Qatar will achieve its goal of making the inaccessible, accessible. The Amir, H.H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani issued an accession document approving State of Qatar’s accession to the Marrakesh Treaty, in September of this year. Qatar continues being on the road to making its home a better place for everyone. 


What would like to have Braille text on menus? Let us know in the comments below.

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