The Sharjah skyline. Sharjah has carved out a niche among cities around the world for its role in ensuring compliance with the needs of the differently abled. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The World Disability Union (WDU), which shifted its regional headquarters to Sharjah in 2019, will be holding its first award ceremony on December 7 to honour disability-friendly organisations in the UAE that have made their establishments compliant with the needs of the differently abled.

WDU was established in 2011 as an inclusive umbrella for 150 sub-organisations globally. It covered 68 countries with the status of internationally qualified entities within the scope of the Convention on People with Disabilities, as guaranteed by these countries. It earlier had its regional headquarters in Turkey. However, learning about the disability-friendly emirate of Sharjah and its numerous efforts to acknowledge the issues faced by differently abled people and its efforts to make the emirate compliant with the needs of the differently abled, WDU moved its base to Sharjah.

Hyder Talib, general secretary of WDU, told Gulf News: “We work towards the inclusion of the disabled into the mainstream of society. We conduct our survey on places and organisations to assess if they are disability friendly. These criteria include conditions like presence of a wheelchair ramp, designated places for wheelchairs, designated disability-friendly bathrooms and many other such criteria such as provision for comfortable living for the disabled such as affordable rents, employment and education facilities, affordable accommodation, easy transport.”

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He added: “We have criteria for public places that need to be ticked to be disability friendly — especially airports, hospitals and hotels. Based on these, we issue disability-friendly certificates to organisations worldwide. Public places such as airports, parks, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and universities feature high on our list for survey and assessment to earn this certificate.”