Sweeping in its scope and implementation, the national policy for empowering people with special needs launched last week by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, segues with the country’s commitment to seamlessly integrate people with special needs with the mainstream. To begin with, the decision to refer to them as the ‘determined ones’ is the highest testament to their courage and grit that will have a tremendous influence on positivising social perceptions. The fact is that the time for it has come and the UAE is showing the way.
Pragmatic and visionary, the policy addresses the issue at both ends of the spectrum — it lays as much emphasis on preventive and early diagnostic aspects as it does on health and rehabilitation, education, vocational and employment issues and much more.
Underpinning this pragmatism is the decision to appoint at every institution for the determined ones, an official to ensure the facilities and services required are translated into reality. Supplementing this will be the setting up of an advisory council of members of society who will be the beacons for the determined ones.
These are high-performing strategies that will produce the desired results because for any society, the task is to not only erase the boundaries that constrict these individuals, it is also to bring within their reach viable opportunities, a high quality of life and cohabitation with their compatriots that is participative. The national policy is clear-eyed about this outcome as it seeks to aggregate all that has been already achieved by the UAE in this regard, which is significant in its scope and breadth, and move towards more ambitious, imperative, goals.