Learning support a boon for disabled


Experts say that if learning disabilities in children are tackled by the age of seven years, the results are better. Times of Oman

Muscat: Technological advances to help people with a variety of disabilities are becoming better and better, and some are even tailored for the Arab world, experts at a symposium at Sultan Qaboos University explained.

The symposium, called 'Assistive Technology: A Key to Success', brought together parents, teachers, students and members of different associations for people with disability to hear from three international experts about the available tools and the need to adapt education for people with special needs.

"Because technology itself has improved, it makes it a great tool for disabled people to work with," said Pantelis Makris, a UN Development Programme consultant from Cyprus who helped make the first Arabic keyboard that has big, colourful keys and can be used by people with visual impairments.

Makris spoke of the many developments in computers that now make it easier for people with paralysis, autism, Down Syndrome, blindness, dyslexia and other problems to communicate.

For example, there are mice that can be clicked with one's foot, head, or even controlled on-screen just by one's eyes, voice-controlled computers, programmes that convert text to voice, special pens that read codes, and even little robots that help children learn to read.

Chair of the Kuwait Dyslexia Association, Mohammed Al Qatami, said it's highly important to give people with special needs the chance to be educated regardless of the challenges and adaptations required, because many of them are highly intelligent or gifted despite their disabilities. "We gain a lot if help those students, and we lose a lot of it don't. We have no choice but to adapt our school to dyslexia," Al Qatami said.

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