Abu Dhabi: An Emirati student who grew up with a visual impairment has become an inspiration to his peers because he has never allowed his impairment to hold him back in life.

Mohammad Al Hosani, 18, was born with a visual impairment due to a genetic disease. His 13-year-old sister, Mariam Al Hosani, was also born blind.

He taught himself how to read Braille at the age of four and is now learning how to use computers.

Braille is a writing system that enables blind and partially sighted people to read and write through touch. It consists of patterns of raised dots arranged in cells of up to six dots, in three by two configurations. Each cell represents a letter, numeral or punctuation mark.

New skills

Visually impaired students from all over the UAE recently attended a workshop at the Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care, Special Needs and Minor Affairs to learn new skills.

Some of those attending had lost their sight due to accidents or diseases, while others were born with the condition, like Al Hosani.

"Our main aim with the workshops was to help encourage visually impaired students to help themselves. We try to help them develop as many skills as possible. All these students are well-educated, like Mohammad Al Hosani. He's eager to learn and make the best of his talents, he is my hero," said Ashjan Bint Smedah, head of the department for visually impaired and blind students at the Zayed Organisation.

Hosani scored 90 per cent in his last year at secondary school and started giving his peers at the centre lessons on reading Braille.

He also took part in the UAE Challenge 2006 competition, where he presented a project through his own website portal about the environment in the UAE.

He is now in his freshman year, studying advertising at the UAE University in Al Ain.