9 February 2012
National Initiative ICTs for People with Disabilities Kicks Off

Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Mohamed Salem, inaugurated the conference of "ICTs for People with Disabilities" in Smart Village, in the presence of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Ali Gomaa.

During the conference, the National Initiative of ICTs for People with Disabilities was launched, to be carried out by MCIT in cooperation with Wayana International Foundation for Integration and Awareness and Misr El Kheir Foundation.

The initiative aims at achieving human development for people with special needs in the first place by providing basic and advanced computer training programs and specialized technology programs, in addition to providing IT applications targeted to different disabled people such as audio programs for the visually impaired and visual applications for the ones with hearing disabilities.

This conference presents a number of mechanisms included in the new initiative implemented by MCIT through its available resources and through collaboration and partnership with civil society organizations such as Wayana International Foundation for Integration and Awareness in addition to Misr El Kheir Foundation and others.

The initiative shall train people with special needs on the latest software and IT applications in order to access the work system, hence in society and life. This comes only after gaining specialized technology skills required to be part of the labor market and meeting the requirements of all companies and institutions for qualified and trained calibers on latest software and IT programs.

The opening ceremony was attended by minister of Education, Dr. Gamal El-Araby, minister of Health and Housing, Dr. Fouad Al- Nawawy, president of the Supreme Council for Youth, Mr. Khaled Abdul Aziz, chairman of the Supreme Council for Sport, Dr. Emad El Banani, acting minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ashraf Abdel Wahab, professor at the National Center for Social and Criminal Research, Dr. Suad Abdel Rahim on behalf of Dr. Najwa Khalil, minister of Social Affairs.

The conference was also attended by the elite interested in community issues and civil action, as well as concerned officials like the director of the Human Development and Training Sector at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Ahmed Adel Darwish, chief Executive of Misr El Kheir Foundation, Dr. Alaa Idris, director general of the Egyptian Red Crescent, Dr. Magda El Sherbiny, the members of transport Committee at the People's Assembly, and MCIT leaders.

In his speech in the opening of the conference, Dr. Mohamed Salem stresses that the State is keen to provide all means and to create suitable climate to accommodate all potentials and creative skills in young people, especially people with disabilities, in order to benefit from their innovative ideas.

Egypt, he adds, is in dire need for all efforts and energies of youth to advance the work cycle and to intensify efforts during these critical times.  He further adds that MCIT's initiative ICTs for People with Disabilities will play a major and effective role in enhancing their skills and help them form their own companies and business. It will also provide them with unique job opportunities in all State sectors.

According to H.E. Dr. Mohamed Salem, these endeavors comes within the framework of implementing priorities identified in the MCIT strategy focusing on developing citizens’ skills through IT to keep pace with updates in the labor market requirements and investment in human resources thus provide unique job opportunities to young people and eliminate unemployment.

During the conference, two agreements of joint cooperation were signed. The first is a three-year agreement, signed by the chairman of the board of trustees of Misr El Kheir Foundation, Dr. Ali Gomaa and Dr. Mohamed Salem. The agreement implies the development of some training centers dealing with people with disabilities on the technological level by MCIT.

This is done through providing the needed computer devices, high-speed internet connection, providing centers with special ICT programs and applications for the physically, hearing, visually and intellectually disabled. This is also done through supporting the training of doctors in rural areas through university communication network and providing ICT training programs (basic and advanced).

Besides, providing technology houses in disadvantaged areas remote from schools and offering community education by providing education for all is also one of the means agreed upon to ensure the development of people with disabilities.
The second agreement is a three-year agreement signed by director of the Human Development and Training Sector at the Ministry of Communications and Information technology, Dr. Ahmed Adel Darwish and Chairman of Wayana International Foundation for Integration and Awareness, Ms. Hala Abdel-Khalek.

According to this agreement, MCIT would provide technology houses equipped to be used by Wayana Foundation by direct agreement of the Foundation and managers of these technology houses, trainers, employees and volunteers. Technology houses, employees in IT houses, People with Disability and the whole society are to benefit from such an agreement leading to socio-economic development.

The Ministry will help in providing specialized training programs in cooperation with Egyptian ICT Trust Fund, local technology and multinationals, within the context of their social responsibilities towards the citizens.

This includes providing appropriate programs for the hearing, speech and visual impaired to raise their skills, including the program of signal dictionary to people with hearing disabilities and an audio program to read the writings (Screen Reader) for people with visual disabilities.

The conference sessions reviewed PWD recommendations, which emerged from previous meetings preparing to the conference.  Many issues concerning people with disabilities have also been tackled. Discussions enclosed the means to coordinate between government bodies and civil society to serve PWD issues. The idea of an e-council supported of the Ministry of State for Administrative Development was also proposed.

Sessions also discussed the projects of the Egyptian program to support PWD, and other sessions, the impact of accessing information and technologies to help integrate people with visual disabilities in the labor market was also discussed.

University professors with disabilities provided distinguished presentations about the programs and technologies empowering people with disabilities.

Within the conference events, a number of workshops discussed issues and reviewed recommendations of PWD in education, culture, health, rehabilitation, employment, youth and sports, and designing items for the e-portal of disability affairs’ services.

The Conference closing session also included an open community dialogue on various the workshops’ recommendations.

Ministers inaugurated and inspected the exhibition held on the conference sidelines. The exhibition showcased projects of a number of young innovators of disability challengers. These projects are based on the latest applications and IT programs, which offer many useful technical solutions for various fields of society and demos for some of the companies operating in the IT field with special attention to PWD.


About Misr El Kheir Foundation:
Misr El Kheir Foundation is an Egyptian foundation working for the development of the Egyptian society as a whole in several areas, especially health, education, fighting poverty and illiteracy. The foundation works on reaching grass root families within the framework of social solidarity activities for the advancement of the poorest societies and provide training opportunities for the youth.

The foundation also works on supporting development projects for organizations and individuals, helping and caring for the elderly, orphans and street children, furthermore assists in financing scientific researches beneficial to the society.  The foundation adopts the philosophy of working through partners as one of the mechanisms for implementing development programs for the society prosperity as well as seeking to support civil society organizations associations and foundations that work for their communities where they exist.

About Wayana International Foundation for Integration and Awareness:

Wayana is a foundation working under the umbrella of the Ministry of Social Solidarity. It is considered as one of the leading foundations in the field of integrating children with special needs in schools and the integration of people with disabilities in society. In order to achieve this mission, it established centers for children with disabilities in different governorates as well as rehabilitates disabled youth in order to play an active and vital role in all functional areas and facilitate their recruitment in disability-friendly companies. 

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