Nineteen-year-old Mais Ahmad Hamudi has accomplished more than what many of her age with perfect vision have achieved.

Last week, the Grade 12 student bested 30,393 students across the UAE scoring 97.8 per cent in the first semester examinations.

The test is given to students from private and public schools which follow the UAE curriculum.

“For me, the questions were clear … as were the answers. I studied very hard for the exams,'' Mais said.

Impressed by her feat, Her Highness Shaikha Hind Bint Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, had announced that she would sponsor Mais.

Inborn disability

Born blind to a Palestinian couple in Jordan in 1990, Mais was taken to various hospitals and institutions in Europe for treatment, but all attempts to make her see failed.

Her eight-year-old sister, Raneem, was also born blind.

Her two other sisters Lina, 21, and Ro'a, 14, have normal vision.

When Mais was four, her family settled in the UAE.

At age six, she enrolled in a private school in Sharjah.

A year later, she moved to the Helen Keller School in Ramallah, Palestine, to learn Braille (a system widely used by blind people to read and write).

As she became more comfortable with her condition, Mais was sent to a regular school in Ramallah, a move initially resisted by school administrators.

Students there were also not used to dealing with a blind classmate.

Mais went back to the UAE in 2003 and enrolled at Al Ola Private School in Sharjah. “I was treated like any other student, but I was dependent on my hearing when textbooks weren't available (in Braille),'' she said.

Mais however, had to change schools again as Al Ola didn't have the curriculum she wanted.

“The administrators, teachers, and students at Al Hikma School received me with much support and understanding,'' she said.

Ahmad Kayed, has approached The Zayed Higher Organization (ZHO) for Humanitarian Care, Special Needs and Minors Affairs to help his daughters.

Blind Printing Press has also generously offered to provide Mais with Braille school books.

“She is highly independent,'' Mai Hamadneh, her mother, said. According to her, Mais chooses her own clothes, tidies her bed, helps in the kitchen, and takes care of her blind sister as well.