Saleh's Story – Making Connections That Matter
Saleh Al Kuwari, who is 42 years old, is an aspiring Qatari entrepreneur. When he started working with the assessment team at Mada, technology devices were barely present in his life, but Saleh wanted to connect to the world without being held back by his visual disability.
Saleh was unable to use touch screen phones due to his visual disability, although iPhones generally come equipped with a range of accessibility features, and would be his device of choice, but still he found the device limiting. To encourage Saleh to be comfortable using a touch screen device, Mada suggested that he should begin using an iPad which uses the same operating system as the iPhone but has a bigger screen. This allowed Saleh to familiarize himself with the use of a touch screen brought to life by built-in-text-to-speech technology.
After each session, Saleh was given a set of homework tasks by the assessment to sharpen his newly acquired skills. This included setting up an email, and creating and sharing video content with his WhatsApp contact list. The entire training for Saleh was conducted in Arabic, and customized to the client's abilities and ambitions.
Saleh was then given an opportunity to use the device on his own for a week while the assessment team took a backseat. This proved to be a critical step that allowed Saleh to practice on his own and gain more confidence.
Using his new App Store account, Saleh had independently downloaded several Arabic language news apps, and for the first time in his life was able to access newspapers and magazines that he aspired to eventually write for.
The other significant impact of technology on Saleh's life was his new ability to use maps. Saleh was never able to independently navigate the city, thus forbidding him from gaining a complete sense of his whereabouts. With this technology, Saleh now has the ability to create a virtual map in his mind.
Saleh is now also able to make deeper connections with his religion, thanks to his new smart device. Using an app to read the Holy Quran, Saleh is able to explore holy script in greater detail by using the phone's built in accessibility feature.
Now, Saleh's newfound abilities give him greater confidence and a heightened sense of self. By creating an implementation strategy that was focused on delivering customized training in the native language, Mada's assessment team has been able to ensure that Saleh created organic and sustainable connections with the new technology, ensuring a lifetime of connectivity and exploration.
Mada Direct Services for Hamad
Hamad was referred to Mada by his parents and school. At eight years old Hamad is a bright and communicative boy that enjoys using computers and tablets. However, Hamad was struggling with maintaining his grades and managing his homework, he has a diagnosis of dyslexia.
His written work was of poor quality and he struggled to present his ideas and learning in written form. As such, he was unhappy with his results because he believed he was more capable and able to achieve more having worked very hard. When Mada started to work with Hamad, we assessed his reading, handwriting and typing skills. We found that he was slow at writing, and his handwriting was difficult to read, a similar case was shown with his typing, which also had some spelling mistakes and poor punctuation.
Mada's aim with Hamad was to introduce AT to him and help improve his literacy skills while also ensuring he was facilitated to show his knowledge and full abilities. Mada used a Clicker program on the computer with Hamad and he enjoyed this. This gave him support with spelling and helped him improve his punctuation and construct better sentences.
Hamad also tried the Clicker apps for additional support and learning. Working together with Hamad resulted in a great outcome, and he then went on to using the Clicker program on his laptop, in school and at home for his assignments. Hamad and his teachers reported an improvement in the quality of his work and he also used the Clicker apps on his iPad at home, which his parents have reported he enjoys. The overall outcome of this project was a great success and Hamad has expressed that he feels happier and less pressured at school and with his homework.
Mada Direct Services for Khaled
Khaled was referred to Mada by his speech therapist, as he needed further support with his cognitive skills. At sixteen years old, Khaled is a student at the Shafallah Center for students with special needs and has been diagnosed with non-verbal autism. With an engaging smile and a gentle attitude, Khaled is friendly and easy to be around, however, as a student with autism, Khaled could not communicate with his environment using many words, and only had the ability to respond to simple instructions using one word or pictures.
When Mada started to work with Khaled, they introduced him to a device called Proxtalker, the technology allowed Khaled to simply place any photo, symbol, or object on a sound tag card and communicate with a voice. After two months of using the technology, Khaled showed great improvement in his understanding of using the device and he enhanced his communication skills while using the Proxtalker.
Furthermore, Mada reviewed his skills and introduced him to a tablet where he could use the 'gotalk now' communication application. His therapist and teachers also helped him use the application and learn how to better engage with his environment, during his sessions and when in the classroom.
Khaled responded very well to this program provided by Mada, and he is now able to formulate his daily needs in a sentence of three sequenced pictures. Without help and with a success rate of five out of five. The collaborative approach between his Speech Therapist and the Mada team allowed Khaled to receive a communication system that successfully met his language and access needs, and had a very positive impact on his social integration. The next step for Khaled is to use his iPad and the 'gotalk now' application as a communication device not only at school and during his speech sessions, but also at home and elsewhere. To ensure Khaled further develops his skills, Mada will be working with his parents during this academic year in order to achieve his future goals.
Mada Direct Services for A
A first came to Mada as an intelligent young child with excellent receptive communication skills, even though A is non-verbal, he is able to communicate his needs through facial and eye gestures. A has been diagnosed with severe Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and is a wheelchair user. As such, he has an inability to control his muscle tone, as well as control and coordinate his hands to control a keyboard, mouse and a touch a screen.
However, his family have been focusing on his physical therapy from early childhood and are determined to ensure that he continues to use his hands for multiple tasks. When Mada started to work with A, they introduced him to target switches and head switches that required a lot of time to be successful. However, Mada believed that eye gazing was also a great option for A to communicate in school, along with limb control for other tasks.
A had no trouble picking up the concept of using the eye gaze and dwell for making choices, where A was able to successfully understand the tasks and select the appropriate objects on the screen in a range of sizes. When Mada moved on to literacy tasks using a dwell select on-screen keyboard A. was able to type his name but found keys at the far edges a bit difficult to access. Provided with the right technology, A. has gained confidence in his capacities and is motivated to learn how to completely control his eye gaze independently and improve his ability to communicate with his environment and develop his educational skills. To ensure that A develops his skills further, Mada provided A's family with eye gazing software to be used at home and in school, where his teachers also received eye gaze Clicker 5 and Grid 2 training to support him in class.
Mada Direct Services for M.H
M was referred to Mada by his ABA trained shadow teacher as he needed further assistance with his communication and social skills. M is a fun and giggly six-year-old that loves video games and bubbles. M was diagnosed with moderate to mild autism, and struggled with many aspects of disability related to his autism, particularly being non-verbal and unable to communicate with his family members or others. As such, his mother brought him to Mada where he was assessed for different aspects of disabilities related to his autism diagnosis, particularly communication, social, and motor skills. Through the assessments, Mada indicated that M had good motor and self-care skills; however, the tests showed that he had no verbal skills and had not developed any languages.Furthermore, his social skill capabilities were very limited and his eye contact was poor.
In addition, M was unable to engage in functional play activities with his peers. After the assessment, Mada determined that their main focus would be to improve M’s communication skills so that he could express his needs, engage with others and express himself. Mada provided him with a speech generation system, the QuickTalker7 where M was able to express language communication. Through this assistance, M made great progress and after two months he was able to upgrade to a more complex communication device, the QuickTalker12.
Furthermore, M’s family reported that he had been able to express himself and his needs better since working with Mada and his improvements in communication are set to have a life-long impact on him personally. These will include improving his social skills, reducing stresses for him and his family, and hopefully providing him with more opportunities to learn.
Mada Direct Services for Hamad Mohamed Almegbali
Hamad is a patient that has visited Mada a number of times with his mother having been a patient at the CRD Rumilah Hospital for a number of years. Hamad is nine years old and currently attends a mainstream school that he enjoys, however, he was struggling with holding a pen and writing his homework, in addition to participating in classroom activities. Hamad was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, and as a result, has some physical disabilities that mean he uses a wheelchair, Hamad also wears prescription glasses.
When Hamad first came to Mada he had a difficulty in walking, holding and manipulating objects and his mother brought him to Mada so that he could learn how to use assistive technology. Hamad knew both Arabic and English letters but he could not spell the words correctly when using the standard keyboard, as he has no control of his hands and limited control of his body. Therefore, Mada introduced him to the Big Keys keyboard with keyGuard and a joystick mouse. With this technology, Hamad was able to successfully type his name and move the mouse around the screen.
Furthermore, the large keys gave him the ability to press them without knocking other keys and allowed him to be more precise. After these sessions with Mada, Hamad’s mum has reported that he has started to be more independent and that he does not require a private teacher anymore outside of school. His mother has said that “Mada has changed his life”.
Mada Direct Services for A
A is a bright and sociable young child with good receptive communication skills. At six years old, A enjoys colouring and playing on his iPad, however, as a very young child A did not babble, his first words consisted of only a few consonants and vowel sounds, and he had problems eating. As such, his mother and his speech-language pathologist (SLP) brought him to Mada, as he was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
A demonstrated that he knew what he wanted to say but his brain had difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words and sounds, so instead he was communicating through gestures and points. Mada introduced A to the Proloquo2Go application on the iPad as an Alternative and Augmentative communication system to the one he had previously been using with his SLT, in order to support his speech and move him more quickly to higher levels of language complexity.
A was very happy and motivated to use the iPad to communicate and he was successfully able to search, find and select his desired symbol. In order to enhance his learning, his mother and his SLT were trained on how to use the app, and as a result, A is now successfully using the app to communicate in school with his teachers and he has started to speak some words. Mada’s aim is to continue supporting A, in order for him to reach a full communication system using words or short sentences with the help of the AAC system provided by MADA.
Mada Direct Services for M.S
Just like any other eighteen-year-old M is very sociable and loves to use technology. He was referred to Mada by his therapist as he was very dependent on others because he was in a wheelchair and could not use his hands or legs. M has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, multiple disabilities and is non-verbal, however, his cognitive skills were very good and he could easily learn new concepts. When M came to Mada he demonstrated very good self-head and eye control and Mada introduced him to an eye gaze device to use as a communication and learning device.
M was able to learn how to use the eye gazing device very fast and the grids created for him. Mada also worked very closely with his therapist and educator in order to prepare him for new grids and advanced ones that would meet his communication needs, as well as those from his learning curriculum.
With great practice, he is now able to surf the internet using the eye gazing device, and he has become very active on different social media platforms. Overall, this assistive technology gave M the ability to communicate his basic needs and be part of his environment, in addition to having a better ability to communicate with his peers and family. M now also has the chance to learn more and achieve many educational milestones.
Mada Direct Services for Sh K
Sh K has been a patient at Mada since 2011, having been referred to Mada by her elementary school: MEHE Roqaya School. Sh K is now 23 years old, and a smart, self-confident woman who began working in a family consulting centre after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social services.
However, she was having some difficulty learning at school as she is blind, and therefore needed access to specialized books, media, and equipment for alternative learning methods. When she first visited Mada she was hoping for a way to engage with her textbooks, and wished to become comfortable with assistive technology. So that Sh could participate more in her learning, Mada introduced her to Braille sense Plus, a screen reader which she was intensely trained to use.
A few years later, in 2014, she visited the centre looking for an updated Braille sense, and she was provided with a Braille sense U2 and trained how to use it. After these sessions with Mada, she has gone on to achieve her goal of graduating university. Without access to braille, and alternative learning materials, Sh K would have been denied the chance of literacy, and would not be able to be as independent as she is now.