In partnership with UNESCO and Qatar National Library, Sasol, the international integrated chemicals and energy company, launched a series of films to raise awareness about the challenges that the blind and visually impaired face in their daily lives. The launch marked the International Cane Day and UNESCO-ITU Regional Digital Inclusion for Arab States.
Released as part of Sasol’s leading CSR initiatives “Definitely Able” and “Accessible Qatar”, the films were inspired, written, and starred by Accessible Qatar Ambassador Kholood Abu Sharida. They shed light on the difficulties and the challenges that the blind face in their daily lives, such as when they select clothes, carry out their jobs, and interact with others. The films also seek to show people the capabilities of the blind and to change stereotypes about this category in the society.
The films were shown in a public event entitled “Bridging gaps, enabling inclusion for the blind”, held at Qatar National Library, which was attended by representatives of the UNESCO, the Library, and the media, along with representatives from the blind community in Qatar.
After the screening, a group of experts participated in a panel discussion on the issue of digital integration in Qatar. They presented innovative technologies created to enhance access to information for the blind and visually impaired.
Participant Faisal Al Kohaji, Chairman of Qatar Social and Cultural Center for Blind, discussed the services QSCCB offer for accessibility and inclusion of the blind, including the provision of Braille printing free of charge. Jack Saba, General Manager of Public Affairs at Sasol, discussed the Accessible Qatar app and the efforts to make places more accessible for people with disabilities. Dr. Rashid Yahiaoui, Assistant Professor and coordinator for MA program in Audiovisual Translation from Hamad Bin Khalifa University discussed TII’s efforts with audio description and proposed solutions for hosting movies and accessible art exhibitions in museums. Mohammad Al Fehaidi, Communication and Marketing Officer at Mada, discussed their services to the blind, while Dr. Nouf Khashman, Outreach and Community Engagement Manager at QNL discussed key activities of QNL for people with visual impairment such as printing books in Braille and book club for the blind.
The event included a wonderful musical performance by students from the Al Noor Institute for the Blind. The attendees also had an opportunity to print their names in Braille language and keep the prints as mementoes.
Commenting on the event, Phinda Vilakazi, President of GTL Ventures at Sasol said: “Sasol sees itself as an active partner and a good neighbor in the society. It always works to entrench values like inclusion and the right of all individuals to build the society. We are pleased with our partnership with UNESCO and QNL in this event, and we hope the films will leave a positive impact on people.”
Sasol supports the blind community in Qatar through a number of initiatives and activities, the latest being the sponsorship of the operetta of the Al Nour Institute for the Blind and the “Blind Football” initiative with the Save the Dream program. The company also donated a new Braille printer to QSCCB to print Braille documents free of charge for the community in Qatar.
Dr. Khashman added: “Qatar National Library is committed to providing access to information for all. We have special solutions for library users with different disabilities including Braille books, audio books and the Book Club for the Blind. We believe in the positive impact of such events on society. We are pleased to work with Sasol and UNESCO and welcome future cooperation that will empower people with disabilities to discover the world through books.”
Anna Paolini, UNESCO Representative to the Gulf States and Yemen, commented on the international celebration: “We need to ensure that everyone in society has access to information so they can fully realize their rights and reach their potential, including the blind and visually impaired. There are many successful initiatives in Qatar using technology to develop inclusive solutions for better inclusion in the digital and offline world. We are therefore very proud to partner with Qatar National Library and Sasol to highlight these initiatives and support the blind community in Qatar”.
For his part, Jack Saba said: “Throughout history, the blind community presented to the world a large number of genius people such as Helen Keller, Taha Hussein, Bashar bin Burd, and others. The Qatari society is definitely able to produce similar brains if the disabled are given a chance to show their capabilities. Through such events, we hope the society will know more about this segment of people.”
Since the launch of its “Definitely Able” and “Accessible Qatar” initiatives as part of its CSR program, Sasol made considerable progress in its endeavors to empower the disabled community in Qatar. The company also launched Accessibility Qatar Ambassadors initiative to enable individuals and allow them to play an active role in promoting accessibility and raising awareness about this issue. Through Sasol’s support, the ambassadors work to empower their communities and organize activities to serve them and promote awareness in the society about the importance of accessibility.