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ZU talks inclusion of special-needs students, focuses on mobile tech
BY A STAFF REPORTER April 06, 2015
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ABU DHABI: To ensure that all students with disabilities have access to same opportunities as their fellow students, Zayed University (ZU) in cooperation with the Accessibility Office held a three-day training event in Abu Dhabi campus recently.

The three- day event was inaugurated by Professor Reyadh Almehaideb, Vice President of ZU.

The training, which focused on using mobile technology to achieve full inclusion of special needs students, was delivered by Dr Luis Perez, who is an expert in Assistive Technology and Inclusion at the department of Special Education in the University of South Florida and an Apple distinguished educator. 

Luis, who is vision impaired with 10 per cent vision, is clearly someone who believes that students with disabilities can actively contribute to society.

“The three-day event showcased a large number of accessibility features that are already built into iPads, iPhones, and Macs such as Voice Over, Rotor and Braille. It is important for institutions and those working with special-needs students to become aware that these features already exist and it is not always necessary to purchase additional applications,” Bryan Gilroy, Assistant Provost of Academic Success at Zayed University, said.

Gilroy, who also organised the training event, added, “The event aims to provide further training to ZU’s Apple Professional Developers, Office of Accessibility staff and faculty, who work with the special needs students at the university.”

The training event was also attended by representatives from the Sharjah Humanitarian City, Ministry of Education and Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).

“The workshop was one of the most inspiring training sessions I have ever attended. Perez wanted to transform learning for all students because features that are commonly seen as assistive for learners with disabilities are features that may help all students. By the end of the session, I was enthusiastic to design materials that can transform the learning experience for all students,” Nicholas Yates, Instructional Designer at the Center for Educational Innovation in ZU, said.

“I see a lot of potential in TouchCast application, a new medium that looks like a video, but feels more like a web. It promotes user engagement through creating Internet videos with fully interactive, live web elements for teachers and students alike,” Yates added.

The workshop was opened to guests from external organisations as well as ZU participants.

Shamsa Abdulla Al Mehairi, ZU student, said, “It is surprising to know that Dr Perez is a photographer, although he is visually impaired. As a visually impaired individual, I used to rely on sighted people to capture and edit photos with my iPhone. However, I realised now that there are a plenty of accessibility features that can allow me to take professional pictures independently.”

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