Assistive Technology Center Qatar “Mada” won the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Award for Arabic Digital Content for the year 2023 for its Unified Arabic Braille Portal, the first initiative in the world to provide eight-point Braille tables in Arabic.
Mada Center was honored with the award during the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development (AFSD) 2023, which was held in Beirut from the 14th to the 16th of this month, under the slogan “Solutions and Action”. The center’s participation in the award comes in line with its role in improving the ecosystem for persons with disabilities to be ICT accessible and to achieve independence, unlock their potential, enhance their capabilities, improve their quality of life, and empower them in various aspects of their lives within the framework of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
To promote its role as the Leading Center for innovation in the field of ICT access in Arabic in the region and the world, and within the framework of the Mada Innovation Program, Mada Center launched in 2020, for the first time in the Arab world, the Unified Arabic Braille Portal, which provides a comprehensive and integrated reference for the blind in the Arab world. The portal aims to enrich Arabic digital content in line with the latest international trends and best practices that are consistent with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
It is worth noting that the Unified Arabic Braille portal is the first of its kind in the world of innovation and in the Arab world, where the first computerized Arabic Braille table with eight dots was developed to support Braille abbreviations in the fields of mathematics and science, and to take advantage of the multiple advantages of this table, such as writing or reading single symbol in one cell and supporting some computer symbols. This table is a significant addition and a quantum leap that will help users of Braille displays and speaking computer programs to have a smoother use of the Braille method.
The new tables were published in 2021 and the entire library was introduced as an open-source resource for use by screen displays. It is also available in Arabic and accessible for everyone to use, especially the blind and blind-deaf people, experts, teachers, students, software developers, assistive technology manufacturers, and those who want to learn the Braille system.
Given the importance of involving persons with disabilities in supporting and developing solutions that would make a quantum leap in their lives, Mada Center was keen to involve persons with visual disabilities in the decision-making process by holding focus and evaluation sessions during the research and development process of the Unified Arabic Braille project.