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Tamkeen's students at their graduation ceremony
Tamkeen graduates its first batch of IT students
Training centre for the visually impaired celebrates its third graduation and the launch of its new website

Tamkeen, an initiative of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister, aimed at empowering visually impaired people, today graduated its first batch of IT students.

A ceremony conducted at the centre awarded certificates to 16 Tamkeen students.

H.E. Colonel Saeed Matar Bin Bleila, Director of Dubai Nationalisation and Residency Department, Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Director of Tamkeen and a number of human resources officers of Dubai based organisations attended the graduation ceremony.

Tamkeen, which was established in 2004, empowers vision impaired people of working age with vocational skills to enter the modern workplace and become economically independent. In today’s working environment, achieving computer literacy is important to the career development of Tamkeen’s students.

"We cannot ignore the vital role which the visual impaired can play in contributing to the advancement of society. They only need our support and encouragement to find appropriate job opportunities. This can be achieved only through providing proper training and focused education programmes of the kind we see here in Tamkeen,” said H.E. Colonel Saeed Matar bin Bleila, after awarding certificates to the graduates.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, Director of Tamkeen, thanked Mr. Bin Bleila for his support and said: “Visually impaired people in this region have a lot of untapped potential,” said “Teaching our students to use technology helps them discover their abilities and breaks down barriers preventing them from entering a career.”

Tamkeen’s course, which took three months to complete, provided vision impaired students a basic knowledge of touch-typing, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and the Internet.

“Earlier I couldn’t use a computer,” said Muneera Ragheb, Tamkeen IT graduate. “With the skills I have learnt at Tamkeen I now hope to find work that involves the use of PCs,” she added.

During 2004, Tamkeen offered three computer literacy classes. All students who took the course will graduate in March.

“The computer classes are very good,” said Abla Sowayeh Al Kaabi another graduate of the class. “The course taught me how to use programmes with a screen reader which reads out what the computer displays. Using this tool I learnt how to use the internet and Microsoft Office.”

Tamkeen’s other career-driven courses offered in 2004 included written and oral English provided with the support of the British Council, and business soft skills such as customer service and sales techniques taught by Dubai Media City-based company Biz-Ability.

Tamkeen’s latest graduation coincided with the launch of its new portal. Designed by the IT Education Project (ITEP), www.tamkeen.ae , is the first of its kind in the Middle East. With content provided in both English and Arabic, the site offers a version designed specifically for the visually impaired and another for sighted users.

“The new portal is an invaluable resource for the visually impaired,” said Dr. Al Karam. “It will enable them to communicate ideas, exchange information and maintain friendships, regardless of their location.”

The portal also allows users to personalise their settings. This allows partially-sighted users to increase the lettering size depending on their needs. In addition, visually impaired people who use screen-readers to navigate the site can choose how much information they want displayed on the page.

The back-end of the site is updated by the visually impaired staff of Tamkeen. The site includes updated information on Tamkeen’s activities and courses, a chat forum and a facility that allows students to post their CVs for the consideration of potential employers.

Tamkeen operates in association with Dubai Knowledge Village and is mainly sponsored by Emirates Airlines. Its training partners include the British Council, Biz-Ability and the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum IT Education Project (ITEP). Its technology partners include the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB), an organisation established in Australia for over 150 years, Braille House, Microsoft and HP.

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