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H.H Sheikh Mohammed with a student of Tamkeen
H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Inaugurates Tamkeen
H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister, unveiled a new initiative that aims to offer people who are vision impaired an opportunity to play a more constructive role in the development of the society at Knowledge Village in the presence of top Government Official and Businessmen, today 19th May 2004.

The new project 'Tamkeen' (the Arabic word for 'enabling'), an initiative of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed, supported by Knowledge Village, Emirates Airline, HP, Microsoft, Biz-ability and the British Council, aims to empower UAE nationals and residents, who are vision impaired or partially sighted, to become independent livelihood earners through training, employment, career development and facilitation.

Speaking on the concept behind Tamkeen, Ahmad bin Byat, Director General, Dubai Technology & Media Free Zone Authority, explained: “Vision impaired citizens are as much a part of the society as you and me. But the percentage of these people gainfully employed in the corporate sector is almost negligible.” Tamkeen is to change this by giving tools and training to vision impaired individuals, empowering them to take up a decent job in any professional environment and giving them the capability to be independent.

Bin Byat also pointed out that even though there are a number of centres and associations for the disabled in the UAE, "there is a need for a dedicated centre that can provide professional services."

Through increasing the use of adaptive technology within the region and to ensure world-class training and all-round development for the students, 'Tamkeen' is focusing on three key areas of training in collaboration with some of the best names in the industry. In addressing the most vital area of 'communication skills', the organisation provides oral and written English language training in partnership with the British Council.

Once a student attains proficiency in English, he or she moves on to a detailed IT training program, being run in association with the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) an organization established in Australia over 150 years ago that now boasts more than 10,000 students.

The third area of training involves teaching soft-skills such as personal development, interactions with colleagues and customers, sales techniques and presentation skills etc. Biz-ability, based at Dubai Media City, is handling this area of training at Tamkeen.

Tamkeen has collaborated with some of the best names in industry to ensure world class training and all round development for the vision impaired. But the organization’s job does not end with training alone. Tamkeen is deeply involved in changing employer perceptions and making the professional environment more conducive to a vision impaired person’s productivity.

The requirements of vision impaired people are quite different from other challenged individuals and these could only be addressed effectively by a dedicated centre with specific systems of training combining adaptive technology, sound systems and Braille texts.

A number of programs for the vision impaired have been initiated, including the following:
Cabin crew training- ‘Train the Trainer’ program with Emirates, to make vision impaired persons comfortable and at ease while travelling.

Web site accessibility –As they cannot move out freely, blind people are more dependent on internet for their daily chores than normal people. It is therefore important for websites to be vision impaired-friendly and Tamkeen can help people build one.

Promote general awareness across all media to educate and inform the general public on the special needs of the vision impaired.

Tamkeen also plans to attract blind and partially sighted from Bahrain, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries to come and study at Tamkeen. Efforts are also underway to place Tamkeen students with government organisations and corporate houses. The organization is open for anybody of work-ready age from any nationality. All training and support is given free of charge and the average capacity of each class is 5-6 persons.

Ahmed Al Mulla, a student at the English Language Training at Tamkeen, who is also Assistant Manager at Tamkeen said, “My job responsibilities include designing programs, managing Tamkeen’s marketing, generating awareness and solving student problems. I would like to see Tamkeen grow into a huge centre with vision impaired students from all over the region. But we will take it step by step and my training in the English language is going to help me in my job.”

Najeeba Hassan Gareeb another student at Tamkeen said, “H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid has initiated this program for people who cannot see, which has made me and my parents really happy. At present I am learning English and subsequently will take up a computer course so that I too can go to work. I would like to work at Tamkeen or any other organisation in the future but right now I am very happy just being here at Tamkeen”

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