Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination has had a meaningful impact on various sectors of the emirate, helping develop an inclusive society, the Department of Community Development (DCD) has said.
DCD reviewed the strategy’s achievements in the presence of Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the board of director of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination (ZHO), and Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, DCD’s chairman. During the event, attendees also signed a pledge to make the Abu Dhabi an inclusive, accessible, and enabling place for people of determination, and committed to providing a system of policies and programmes, as well as the environment, that will allow equitable access for people of determination.
“Since its launch, the Strategy has been a paradigm shift in inclusion and empowerment of people of determination, and a model for the integrated efforts of the public and private sectors to provide them with an inclusive and enabling environment. In fact, Abu Dhabi has been keen to provide an inclusive environment that allows equitable access to people of determination to services, opportunities, and rights. And we look forward to achieving more milestones and further expanding and strengthening partnerships with all entities to ensure effective implementation of Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination until 2024,” Dr Al Khaili said.
The DCD’s Enablers Pillar of the strategy governance model is fully activated with 13 key government entities to ensure the participation and monitoring of the Strategy.
A total of 16 governmental entities were trained in 2021 on developing policies and programmes that are inclusive of POD, while in 2022, 30 government entities are targeted to be trained on inclusive data so that POD are counted as part of statistics and indicators.
Finally, DCD has designed assisted living services with the aim to launch these services to enable POD adults to live as autonomously as possible, and has initiated work on a policy for the protection of POD from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination.
There have been numerous achievements in the past two years by the employment task force, which is led by the Abu Dhabi Human Resources Authority. These include the development of the inclusive employment policy for POD in the emirate, and the incorporation of POD employment journey within job placement centres. The launching of the Colleagues of Determination programme, which is an awareness program for Abu Dhabi government employees on disability, and how to deal with and support their colleagues of determination in the work environment, targeted 68 government entities.
Led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek), the education pillar launched the Empower Inclusion Training platform to provide access to professional development on themes of inclusion to educators. A total of 24 webinars were held.
Adek also developed the inclusion policy, framework and guidance handbooks for schools, and launched a policy and system to support delivery of in-school specialist services and therapies to children in schools.
An Autism Inclusion project was established where 46 children transitioned from specialised schools to mainstream schools and are receiving support. An Autism Resource Base was additionally established to support students with autism in mainstream Schools, while two specialist classes in charters school were opened to serve 20 students.
Al Karamah Training Institute has been opened as well to provide vocational training and employment-specific skills to young people with autism, and support their transition from school to employment. At present, it has 48 enrolled students.
Health and rehab
The health and rehabilitation pillar, led by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Early Childhood Authority (ECA), designed an assessment framework for persons with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and learning disabilities.
The ECA developed the Integrated Early Childhood Intervention System framework to ensure a holistic multidisciplinary support and services for children with disabilities or developmental delays, including 19 initiatives recommended to enable the future Integrated Early Childhood Intervention System. Five pilot projects were undertaken, including the development of Abu Dhabi Early Intervention Guide to help parents and caregivers find the information they need in the area of early.
The social care pillar, led by the ZHO, completed the database for POD in Abu Dhabi to record all data and information that will assist institutions plan for POD services. It also launched the Disability Classification Guide for the Abu Dhabi – Third Edition in line with the Unified National Classification of Disabilities, and disseminated it across entities.
The ZHO designed a smart application for early detection of children with developmental delays, and recorded 1,859 children with developmental delays were by 2022. This will help ensure early intervention for the children.
The entity also organised a 3D printing workshop, where eight people of determination with intellectual disabilities were employed. They went on to produce 3,680 items.
A total of 10 commercial licenses have been issued for POD to promote participation in ‘Matjery’, a virtual market for productive families. Using the latest technologies and artificial intelligence, the Prosthetic Workshop also has been established. A ‘Hemam’ or determination service was also launched for counselling for POD families, with 9,250 sessions of psychological and social counselling given to families of POD until July 2022.
Several more initiatives, such as the launch of sensory rooms project for POD, were kicked off in April 2021. These sensory rooms have been installed in shopping malls and vital areas Abu Dhabi to provide a safe space for POD in public venues like malls and airports.
ZHO also launched the ATMAH project for vocational training, and transition to employment, in collaboration with its partners. A total of served 25 individuals with cognitive disabilities completed a 12-month programme with work placement with the aim of securing a permanent job.
The Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) launched a total of 17 inclusive parks in Al Ain to promote social inclusion for POD and their families., Additionally, the DMT enhanced accessibility standards in various fields in line with the UAE code for universal design, including in residential buildings redesign, protection standards from fire risks, public realm design, community facility planning standards, and mosque development regulations
The Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) completed accessibility audits and assessments of 25 sports clubs, and is working on enhancing the accessibility of 12 sports clubs to be inclusive as phase 1. In addition, 213 POD participated in the community sports events carried out by the ADSC. It also launched nine awareness workshops aimed at raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and physical activity for POD players, trainers, supervisors, and parents.
The Abu Dhabi Housing Authority (ADHA) provided the Mustasharik service to support POD in identifying needs and reviewing housing design plans. Customer service employees have been trained to interact with POD with hearing disabilities, and a priority service line for POD ensures seamless and quick responses by the ADSA’s call centre. Additionally, the ADHA has updated the current residential communities’ manual to include specifications that consider the needs of POD with physical disabilities, and accordingly capital housing projects have been implemented. POD also reaped the benefits of housing packages in 2021 and 2022, with 662 POD from Abu Dhabi availing housing loans, and 158 obtaining residential land grants.
The capital housing project was launched based on the first draft of the first edition of the Residential Communities Guide in Al Dhafra region. In 2021, Al Mughaira Residential Project was implemented. Under this project, 410 residences were offered to POD. Sweihan Residential Project was implemented in 2022, in which 204 housings will be offered to POD. Additionally, the Al Falah Project will offer 899 housings for POD.
The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) has initiated a study at these sites to increase accessibility by pinpointing gaps and improvement plans. Libraries across the emirate have conducted over 30 programmes for POD, with the participation of 882 people.
The Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) has developed the standards and guidelines for accessibility to government websites and TAMM platform. The ADDA also completed the POD Empower, which includes the main services available to POD from different government entities through a unified digital experience on TAMM.
The Abu Dhabi Airports Corporation developed the infrastructure of Abu Dhabi International Airport to include POD with autism, and Etihad flights are giving priority travel access to POD. Additionally, dedicated counters and smart gates have been installed to guide POD travellers at departure and baggage inspection.
Meanwhile, the AD Ports Group have also made efforts to ensure an inclusive marine travel experience for POD at terminal 1 and 2 at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal - Zayed Port, the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach (the Western Region), and Marsa Mina.