A picture of Omar Hesham.
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The story of Omar Hesham, user of the Entaleq app

“I am not surprised by inaccessibility anymore.”

My name is Omar Hesham. I am a 24-year-old wheelchair user and a graduate of the Faculty of Commerce at Ain Shams University.

For many years, the possibility of my going out, whether to go to school or simply to hang-out with family and friends in various venues, such as restaurants, coffee shops, and malls, was very limited due to the lack of accessibility in many places. So, either I had to go to the one or two places that I knew for sure were accessible or I had to have someone always with me to help when needed.

All this changed in March 2016, when I received an invitation from the Helm Foundation to attend the launch event for their Entaleq application. This event was my first introduction to Helm, and thus to Entaleq, and after that I downloaded the application and started to use it.
Entaleq has helped me increase my independence to move around more freely by allowing me to know the degree of accessibility of various venues and locations beforehand, instead of being surprised by their inaccessibility once I have arrived. As a result, the app helps me determine which places I can visit on my own and which ones I need help in reaching and moving about freely.

Entaleq has been continuously developing and updating its services; and I am happy to know that it is spreading to other governorates, such as Luxor, not just Cairo and Giza, as this will help many more people with disabilities to go out more and lead a more independent life, just as it has enabled me.

Read more about how Helm promotes the full inclusion of persons with disabilities through crowd-source reviews by reading the factsheet.

Keiichiro Nozaki
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The Story of Keiichiro Nozaki, user of Wheelog

I think this is an amazing breakthrough for us”

My name is Keiichiro Nozaki. I am 37 years old. Seven years ago, I had an accident which resulted in paraplegia. I’ve been using a wheelchair ever since. Before I found out about “WheeLog!”, I could do my job normally in my wheelchair, but I still came across a lot of obstacles whenever I went out. For example, there were very few toilets and parking lots for people with disabilities or wheelchair-accessible restaurants. What’s more, it was difficult to get information about barrier-free places even if there were any.

However, since “WheeLog!” was released in May 2017, getting information about barrier-free places has become much easier. Users of “WheeLog!” can now post information about barrier-free spots, such as elevators, toilets, parking lots, hotels, restaurants or leisure spots onto the map in the application. Users can also record their wheelchair tracklog on the map. Therefore, wheelchair users can share experiences with wheelchair-accessible places and routes using “WheeLog!”. I think this is an amazing breakthrough for us!

Thanks to “WheeLog!”, I could go on a trip by myself more easily than before and I also posted about leisure spots and restaurants which I could go to. If we all did this, we could help accessible information accumulate on “WheeLog!” and the number of places where wheelchair users can go would increase. We could then expect the quality of our lives to improve.

Whether you’re a wheelchair user or not, you should definitely give “WheeLog!” a try!

Read more about “WheeLog!” by reading the factsheet.

A group picture of young adults holding a sign saying "I heart ADP".
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The story of Atif Jilany, MBA, user of NOWPDP

“I am employed at Abu Dawood Group now.”

My name is Atif Jilany and I have a MBA in finance. I also have muscular dystrophy. I can still recall the days when my mother used to carry me in her arms all the way to my school. Falling from the overcrowded public buses has been a constant part of my life!

I always aspired to work in a place where I would be treated like anyone else – a place where people would see my abilities before they saw my crutches. I have recently joined the Abu Dawood Group through a disability inclusion programme conducted by NOWPDP, and I believe I have found the very place that I have been looking.

NOWPDP, in collaboration with Abu Dawood Group, has made special accessibility arrangements in the office and provided me with the appropriate transport service. Sensitization sessions and other trainings conducted by NOWPDP have made sure that the other staff members are well aware of my needs.

Through the project I have gotten the opportunity to work as an executive in human resources, where I facilitate the employees and ensure that the company’s code of conduct is maintained throughout the organization. I manage attendance, third-party recruitment, and various other tasks to facilitate the smooth operation of the HR Department, learning new skills and techniques through every task.

Read more about how NOWPDP is supporting businesses in creating accessible workplaces and infrastructure by reading the factsheet.

A picture of Christian and his Gig Buddy.
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The story of Christian, a Gig Buddy

“I have gained a life-long friend.”

My name is Christian. I’m a young man who has mild autism and learning disabilities, and I have often felt socially isolated and wanted to get out more and meet new people. Three and a half years ago I became a Gig Buddy and got matched up with my volunteer, Jo.

It was a bit like a blind date. We were matched as people who lived close together and shared a passion for music. I rarely socialised with people outside my family before I found Gig Buddies. Gig Buddies has allowed me and Jo to experience so many great things. I introduced Jo to the beautiful voice of Gregory Porter and got to share my love of Kylie with her, too. So we both get a lot out of being Gig Buddies.

Gig Buddies has made me a stronger and more confident person. Before meeting Jo, I couldn’t be around so many people, but she is always encouraging me to get out there. I’ve even got to know Jo’s friends, and I’m comfortable talking to them without her there. I have got the best Gig Buddy out of it – friends for life!

Read more about how Gig Buddies is teaming up persons with learning disabilities or autism for leisure activities by reading the factsheet. 

 

A picture of Edit Greni.
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The story of Edit Greni, user of a public community centre in Oslo

“It does me so much good to join in and be able to move to music.”


My name is Edit Greni and I am 85 years old. I have been a widow for 20 years and retired for 18 years. It is good to have a community centre where others who live in similar situations can meet. I like going there, and I visit the centre several times a week.

During the past year I have been participating in a project offering dance activities, where we also learn about ballet productions taking place in the city. It does me so much good to join in and be able to move to music. When we dance we engage with our whole body, regardless of our physical capability. But we are also interacting with each other communally. It is as if we become one when we hold hands.

My desire is to dare to do even more. It is important, therefore, that I continue to stay active. When we are old it can seem like it is predetermined that we should just sit there, but I am still playful and want to continue to draw upon what is inside me.

Read more about how Oslo is improving the universal design within the City by reading the factsheet.

Two people using the application.
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The story of Ilan Pearlman, GalaPro User

“I have the full Broadway experience!”

My name is Ilan Pearlman and I am 35 years old. I am a software engineer at a small start-up in Tel Aviv. I am also a big fan of music, musicals, and any and all live shows or theatres. I am also deaf.

My parents discovered I was deaf when I was four, but today I can partially hear with the assistance of hearing aids. Most people would find it surprising how much I enjoy music, being that I am hard of hearing. My love of music has also made me a fan of live concerts – while at a concert there is no need for me to wear headphones or struggle since I am always able to hear and enjoy.

My love of musical theatre stems from my mother. I’ve always enjoyed watching everyone on stage with all the costumes, music, and dancing. It is mesmerizing! However, I was very limited in this hobby because I always had to wait to see captioned performances or had to buy specific seats in order to be near where the captions appeared.

I learned about the GalaPro app at one of the main theatres in Tel Aviv one evening. I had planned to attend a captioned performance with a friend, but with GalaPro I was able to sit in any seat and follow along with my phone – it really changed and improved my entire experience.

My current job brings me to New York City quite often, and every time I visit I make sure to get myself to Broadway!

Read more about how GalaPro is providing synchronized accessibility and translation services for live theatre shows and movies by reading the factsheet. 

An picture of Kevin using the escalator on the tube station.
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The story of Kevin, user of Wayfindr

“I felt empowered with the accuracy of the directions in the Underground.”

My name is Kevin. Currently, blind and partially sighted commuters like me have to rely on station staff to assist them onto their train. They also have to be met at their destination by someone. Wayfindr was born out of a dream for the visually impaired to be able to travel completely independently on the London Underground.

Using Wayfindr is an awesome experience! Thanks to the audio instructions provided using the system’s Open Standard, I know exactly where I am and where to go at all times. At Pimlico Station, for example, I turn right, walk ten paces, and just as I step onto the platform Wayfindr confirms my arrival. All I have to do now is wait for the next train, confident in the knowledge I am on the right platform.

Before testing Wayfindr I’d never been to Pimlico, so the fact that I can do this guided only by a mobile app is a really big deal. It could save me an immense amount of time and make my journey much less stressful, given that I or any other visually impaired commuter does not have to worry if there is a staff person available to assist us, a particular problem at night.

Using Wayfindr, I am empowered by the accuracy of the directions provided, and I really feel like any other commuter walking on my own to catch a train.

Read more about how Wayfindr makes audio navigation systems accessible for persons with visual impairments by reading the factsheet.

Fatima Maghzaz
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The story of Fatima Maghzaz, teacher

“I created a little Arabic reading book in sign language.”

My name is Fatima Maghzaz, and I am a teacher at the Fatima Timouria School in the city of Berrchid, Morocco. I currently have ten deaf students in my class of various ages.
Working with deaf students is difficult but fascinating at the same time. Recently, I attended a teacher-training workshop in Rabat, Morocco, conducted by the Institute for Disabilities Research and Training, during which I learned a great deal and received a lot of information that will facilitate my work as a teacher.

I put in a lot of effort and time developing teaching materials for my students. For example, I recently spent almost six months to create a little Arabic reading book, but when I saw the Dictionary and the Publisher in “Moroccan Sign Language Clip and Create” – the software developed by IDRT – I was astounded! If I had that software before, the work I did in six months could have been done in two or three weeks. But, as they say, “It is better late than never.” I can’t wait to get my copy of the next software version release and begin developing other books for my students.

I want to thank Dr. Corinne Vinopol, the Project Director, for her professionalism and kindness and all workshop presenters. You have made my task much easier!

 

Read more about how IDRT is improving access to education for deaf children in Morocco by reading the factsheet. Corinne Vinopol of IDRT will be presenting at day 2 of the Zero Project Conference 2018 in the session “Sign Language Solutions”.

A group of 7 senior citizens of Ontario, one using a white cane, one in a mobility scooter, the others standing, smiling at the camera, around a tactile wooden pillar with relief images of people stretching upwards towards a wooden globe
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The story of Gail Campbell, Chair of “Access Orangeville”

“We now have ramps in both our town pools – and a chairlift.”

As a member of the Orangeville Town Council and Chair of “Access Orangeville,” I am proud to say that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is being implemented very methodically, such that everyone knows that in the year 2025 our province is going to be totally accessible. It is also being done in a progressive, orderly way so that people are able to accommodate the transition.

I believe the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act is making all Ontarians aware that everyone has the right to enjoy all the services that our province offers. To cite just one example, in our town of Orangeville we now have ramps into both of our pools. We also have a chair lift that can help people with disabilities get into either pool as well as personal flotation devices for every size individual.

 

Read more about how Ontario is being made accessible by reading the factsheet. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act will be presented on day 3 of the Zero Project Conference at the WHO GATE forum on assistive technology.

Zoe Hartman standing and smiling, with a white cane in hand standing against a building covered in graffiti
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The story of Zoe Hartman, user of OrCam MyEye

“I can purchase and pay again, read my mail, and use the subway by myself.”

My name is Zoe Hartman, age 25, and I live in Brooklyn. Previously, I was a production assistant in the film industry and hoped to become an assistant director. When I was 22, however, I suddenly lost much of my vision, and it decreased further over the following few months. After a year of tests and misdiagnoses, a biopsy revealed that brain inflammation, from an unknown cause, had damaged my optic nerves.

I learned to use a cane to get around and magnifiers to help me read, but I frequently had to rely on others for assistance – someone who could read small print, for example. Thanks to OrCam MyEye, however, I’ve gone from relying on others to doing things for myself. The OrCam MyEye helps me pay for purchases without relying on someone else to count my money. It also helps me read signs so I can travel on my own. Since having OrCam, I have shopped for groceries, read my mail, and used the subway by myself. I have even gone back to work. I worked on a couple of television shows and have used my OrCam MyEye to read documents and fill out paperwork more quickly – an asset in the fast-paced film industry. I also recently became a reservationist at a restaurant, which I could not have done without OrCam MyEye.

OrCam also helped me return to activities I love. It helps me read menus when out with friends or family and small print on food labels or museum signs. Now that I can read a script, I’m even considering returning to theatre work, a favourite hobby.

 

Read more about OrCam MyEye by reading the factsheet. OrCam MyEye will be presenting at day 1 of the Zero Project Conference 2018 in the session “Orientation systems for the blind”.