Dubai 2020: Barrier-free, inclusive, disability-friendly - Emirates24|7

Dubai 2020: Barrier-free, inclusive, disability-friendly

Dubai is on course to become a barrier-free, inclusive and disability-friendly city by 2020, a senior government official told Emirates 24|7.

“We have studied the current status of the city of Dubai and the disability gaps.

“We have done a lot of comparison on best practices in different countries and are localising the best ones,” said Khaled Al Kamda, Director-General, Community Development Authority (CDA).

Khaled Al Kamda, Director-General, Community Development Authority (CDA). (Supplied)

“We have come out with a comprehensive strategy for disability until 2020 which takes into consideration every aspect of life in the city – education, empowerment, employment, accessibility, rights, barrier-free, etc.”

Kamda said the task to make the city disability friendly was a gigantic one but effective steps were being taken to achieve the target.

Giving an example, the official revealed that a task force has been set up under the chairmanship of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which is working on a plan for accessible transportation, accessible buildings, pathways and everything else in between.

“They have agreed to bring in an international consultant who will work with the task force to identify the gaps.

“The task force will work on it and they will plan how things should be and implement those changes. Similarly, other departments (Municipality, Dewa, Police, KHDA) will have to work on their department to incorporate changes and their work will be reviewed when the higher committee meets,” he asserted.

Excerpts

How are you progressing with the framework of ‘My community... A city for everyone’ initiative?

Since the launch of ‘My community... A city for everyone’ in November 2013 by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, we (CDA) have developed and launched different programmes and initiatives such as:

Sanad card: A smart identification card for people with disabilities that includes privileges to support them, and provides them with access to services and that will contribute in building the register for people with disabilities in Dubai.

Sanad Relay Centre: A communication system application enabling people with hearing disability or speech difficulties to communicate with persons or entities in the community so they can access the service they need in their daily life in an immediate and independent way.

Through this app, the person can contact a CDA sign language specialist who will serve as a communication assistant and connect the caller with the person he needs using the communication channel that works best for that person (text message,  or via video call ).

Besides, Sanad relay offers free consultations in the area of disability through the helpline/consultation line.

Sanad Train - trainer toolkit on how to deal with persons with disabilities:  We have already trained six governmental entities on this toolkit. We will have batch 2 training in September, targeting 10 to 12 other entities.

Technical assistance: Provision to Dubai Health Authority to develop an insurance scheme for people with disabilities.

Now, the ‘My Community… A city for everyone’ has a strategic framework materialised in the Dubai Disability Strategy 2020 initiated by the Executive Council.

The Dubai disability strategy 2020 aims to transform Dubai to an inclusive, barrier-free, rights-based society that promotes, protects, and ensures the self-determination of people with disabilities though a coordinated and integrated efforts across governmental authorities in Dubai and in coordination with the private sector as well.

Five strategic priorities have been outlined in this strategy and taskforces have been formed to work on policy-formulation and programs development as follows: Health and rehabilitation led by DHA; inclusive education led by KHDA and universal accessibility led by RTA (CDA is the member of all the three taskforces) while we are heading the employment and social protection programmes.

What are the main provisions of the law to protect disabled individuals in Dubai?

Law No. (2) of 2014 concerns protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Dubai.

For the purpose of achieving the objectives of this law, we have now qualified and trained protection specialists from among the authority employees who have the capacity of law enforcement officers.

With this capacity, they investigate reported complaints related to any sign of exploitation, abuse, neglect, or discrimination against a person with disability, which is a breach of the provisions of this law.

They may issue a violation report and take appropriate measures and procedures for the protection of people with disabilities against any form of discrimination, abuse, exploitation or neglect, according to each case and as stated in the law.

What kind of new apps are you working to develop for disabled individuals?

We launched Sanad Relay app and are looking into upgrading this app to serve a larger target group. Moreover, all our apps should be/will be/are accessible for all as per the accessibility standards set by the Dubai Smart Government.

How are you working with the RTA to integrate use of public transport for disabled people?

We are a member of the universal accessibility taskforce led by RTA as part of the Dubai Disability Strategy 2020.

The objectives of this taskforce is to ensure accessible built environments, road and transport systems as well as accessible information, communication and assistive technologies which lead to having Dubai as a barrier-free, inclusive and disability-friendly city by 2020.

 

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