Mada Center and Qatar Airways initiative will offer children with autism and their parents the experience of air travel before an actual flight.
DOHA, Qatar — Children with autism will be able to experience air travel before their actual flight, thanks to a groundbreaking facility created by the Mada Assistive Technology Center Qatar, and supported by Qatar Airways.
The Mada Innovation Program launched a unique research project of a flight journey simulation laboratory for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families under the auspices of Qatar Airways and Creatria LLC. The research project is to design and develop a realistic cabin inside the aircraft that uses both virtual and augmented reality to allow children with autism spectrum disorder and their parents to experience a simulated flight on Qatar Airways.
The launching ceremony of this research project was held at Mada Labs at Mada Center, under the patronage of H.E. Mr. Mohamed bin Ali bin Mohamed Al Mannai, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways is proud to lend its support to the ‘Flight Journey Simulation Lab’ and to join Mada Center in continuing efforts to expand autism awareness and create more inclusive communities – both on the ground and in the air. We are deeply committed to accommodating all of our passengers on every leg of their journey, so we actively educate our staff and crew on how to offer support to those with autism and their families most effectively.”
Mrs. Maha Al-Mansouri, CEO of Mada Center, said: “At Mada, we are working with various partners and innovators to develop an ecosystem that supports the development of technological solutions in Arabic to enhance digital access for persons with disabilities and the elderly. Based on our role as a Center of Excellence in digital access that leads the advancement of international industry practices at the global, regional and local levels, and in a distinguished and unique achievement at the regional and international levels, the Center launched the Flight Simulation Laboratory project for children with autism spectrum disorder.”
Mrs. Maha Al-Mansouri added: “This project will play an important role in preparing these children, their families, and the environment around them to experience a fully realistic and obstacle-free flight experience by designing an interactive travel environment using virtual and augmented reality technology. The Flight Simulation Lab project is one of the achievements of the Mada Innovation Program, that leads efforts to develop an innovation ecosystem in access to ICT and assistive technology with the aim of including and enabling persons with disabilities and the elderly by launching research projects and supporting the development of the latest technological solutions that keep pace with the latest developments in digital inclusion in the context of global digital transformation.”
The ‘Flight Journey Simulation Lab’ will provide a travel experience designed to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that families and children with autism spectrum disorder experience when traveling by air. This experience will also simulate a full air flight, including safety instructions on takeoff, interaction with the cabin environment and crew during the flight, and finally the landing.
It is worth noting that the launch of the laboratory is one of the successes achieved by the Mada Innovation Program, which was designed to encourage innovators to find solutions in Arabic for persons with disabilities and to increase their availability in the Arab world, which significantly contributes to improving the lives of PWDs in Qatar and the Arab world and supporting their independence. Mada has a strong belief in the importance of creating a market for the private sector in Qatar that meets the needs of the Arab world and raising awareness of assistive technology among innovators.
Mada Assistive Technology Center Qatar is a private institution for public benefit, which was founded in 2010 as an initiative that aims at promoting digital inclusion and building a technology-based community that meets the needs of persons with functional limitations (PFLs) – persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly in Qatar. Mada today is the world’s Center of Excellence in digital access in Arabic, as we were able to get Qatar to rank first worldwide on the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index (DARE) 2020, issued by the United Nation’s Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, G3ict.
Through strategic partnerships, the Center works to enable the education, culture, and community sectors through ICT to achieve an inclusive community and educational system. The Center achieves its goals by building partners’ capabilities and supporting the development and accreditation of digital platforms in accordance with international standards of digital access. Mada raises awareness, provides consulting services and increases the number of assistive technology solutions in Arabic through the Mada Innovation Program to enable equal opportunities for PWDs and the elderly in the community.
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ at the 2021 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. It was also named ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021).
Qatar Airways has also become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of HIA as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These awards provide assurance to passengers across the world that the airline’s health and safety measures are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented on board and at HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety