UAE Chapter Launch

UAE Chapter Launch

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Mohammed: Hello everyone, my name is Mohammed Loufty,   I work as Senior Advisor and Capacity Building and  Advocacy at the Global Initiative for Inclusive   ICTs. And I also work with the International  Association for Accessibility Professionals   as their Executive Coordinator for the  Middle East and North Africa region.   It's my great pleasure here to welcome you all  for our launching of our IAAP chapter in the UAE.   Here alongside with our representatives  SEDRA, represented by Renate Baur-Richter. And   just before we get started with our  panel here this morning. I would like to  

introduce to you what IAAP does. IAAP is a place where   world experts on accessibility come together  to define promote and improve accessibility   issues. IAAP offers a broad array of certification  programs and follow up on that with a continuation   of education for accessibility experts, and we are  so happy here to be together to launch our chapter   in the UAE with SEDRA, and I would like to turn  it over to Renate to take us through the panel   this morning. Thank you very much. Renate:   Mohammed, thank you so much for this kind  introduction and I think what you just mentioned   about the mission of IAAP is really so much  aligned with the work that SEDRA Foundation   has been doing since nearly the last 10 years. So  welcome everyone to this exciting launch of the  

UAE, chapter, and I would like to kick off us  with a short introduction to SEDRA Foundation.   SEDRA is a quite agile driver of  change in the UAE and beyond.   When it comes to the rights of people  of determination participation in the   community access to the workplace, and active  participation in the community and all of this,   obviously, touches upon the work of IAAP, and  as a nonprofit organization, SEDRA is in a   unique position to create innovative programs,  policies, and initiatives with our partners   in the public and private sector. In addition to  the direct services for people of determination.  

People of determination as you might be aware,  is the UAE in term for people with disabilities.   Our collaborations across multiple sectors, built  the basis for a robust and trusted partnership   for the UAE chapter, and the current strategic  development of the UAEs knowledge and service   economy is perfectly mirrored in our ongoing  projects and initiatives. So as a representative   of one of the most relevant topics that we have  in the UAE, when we talk about access is the   access to built environment and at this point I  would like to bring in Tina Merk. Tina Merk is an   architectural designer specialized in exactly our  topics, health, age care and universal design. And  

she has a tremendous body of knowledge, when it  comes to the access needs in the UAE and beyond,   but also to the actual status. So I welcome Tina  Mac and would like to hear from you. What is the   current status of the built environment, what do  you expect to change, and what is the impact on   the tourism sector? Tina, the floor is yours. Tina:   Thank you very much for the nice introduction.  So yeah, I've been active in the UAE since 2013,   and I have seen a tremendous change when it comes  to the built environment. And it all started with   implementing building guidelines. So right  now, we have building guidelines of course in   Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but at the same time  the building guidelines actually gave   the people in the UAE some kind of framework. So, architects, planners have to stick to the  

building guidelines. They are now more or  less unified, so we don't have, for example,   guidelines from the US mixed with guidelines  from the UK and the way how people interpret   in their individual way, so to say. But now we  have also a guideline, where people actually   have to stick to it. So, to ensure that the  built environment will be actually inclusive.   At the same time, we've seen that more and more  budget is dedicated to transform the existing   built environment into an inclusive environment,  especially, we can see it in Dubai, we can see it   in Abu Dhabi. We can also see that for existing  buildings that there is a demand to assess them,  

to audit them in order to see where, where are we  right now, what do we have to do, what can we do.   Of course, to transform the city or a building  into an inclusive building will not happen   overnight. It will require budget, it will  require time, but at least it is a start,   and I could see that, especially in the UAE  that they have a tremendous change since the   implementation of the building guidelines. However, I also have to say that   we can have the most inclusive environments. If we  don't train people at the same time, and I don't   necessarily mean the training of planners  and designers, I also mean training of the   maintenance or the people who are responsible for  the maintenance. Cleaning stuff, for example, the   attitudinal or to overcome attitudinal barriers,  for example, and at the same time when I try to   have an inclusive environment, it  would be automatically sustainable   and also accessible and inclusive for tourism. At the same time, if I try to focus on certain  

tourist destinations to make them accessible to  citizens and residents will benefit from it at the   same time. So it's, it's a win win situation,  and we can clearly see the benefits of having   guidelines in the UAE. Because also see that  there is a huge awareness of it. There are   huge awareness campaigns. For example, there  was a strategy or is a strategy in Abu Dhabi,   for people of determination 2020  to 2024. Where Abu Dhabi tried to   bring all the government entities, and  stakeholders together to develop strategies,   and at the same time. So, too. Yeah, to  develop more inclusive environments overall.  

This includes the training, this includes the  tourism sector, the transportation sector.   The events I've mentioned, for example, we have  currently the expo 2020 - 2021 in Dubai right now,   where the sunflower linear, for example, was  launched, or we have introduced the quiet hour in   Abu Dhabi. So, all of those things happens, which  are beneficial for the residents, but at the same   time, also for tourists, of course. Renate:   That's fantastic you know to have those insights  from you and how the implementation of policies   and international standards are absolutely and  clearly linked to positive outcomes, beyond pure   guidelines. It really has an effect on the  population on the accessible tourism sector.   And on the overall ability to participate  in the quality of life and you mentioned,   transport, right. So, this is a perfect segue to  our next panelist Ingemar Fredriksson. And Ingemar   is really the beacon of inclusive and accessible  transport in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE. Ingemar has  

launched the concept many years ago and was  and is still a trail blazer for the potential,   and the positive impacts that really trickles  down on so many levels of the society.   So, Ingemar in listening to Tina. What would be  your status report or your gap analysis, when   you think about accessible tourism in the region.  And what do you think is required to attract more  

tourists from all over the world. Really,  joining and traveling to Abu Dhabi and the UAE.   Ingemar: In   the first, first I would like to  start with say I agree with Tina.   What people sometimes miss is that whatever you  do for the tourist also the locals will benefit.   So, it's a win win, you win on both ends. But  the good thing when you have new and innovative   inclusive solutions like we have a paratransit  or non-emergency medical transport, then the   tourist you meet they are overwhelmed, they're  like, wow, this we didn't expect in Abu Dhabi.   So, you really build the bandwidth  base by being very inclusive,   and we surprised so many people with this kind  of transport from US, Germany, UK, everywhere,   and they get the really good impression of UAE.  And what that service does is kind of help some  

of the bad things with the infrastructure because  that is also accessible for wheelchairs in UAE   today, where, when you add this service there's  no problem anymore and they can move free.   The reason we did this initially was that  we normally work with the public sector but   then we found that they weren't mature yet to  take on the service here. And then I found the   report from World Tourist Organization that  identify this niche of accessible tourists,   or as I prefer to call it, inclusive tours.  Because what we define as an inclusive service  

is access. The difference between accessibility  and inclusion is that accessible is making it   possible. Inclusion is making it happen. And  making it happen, needs so much more. Just because   something it's accessible it doesn’t need to be  used for example and attitudes with people, you   need to change, there's so many things to really  get to the point of real inclusion in society.   Anyway, so we found this niche and we started  to targeted it and we had really good growth for   three consecutive years and primarily with  the cruise ship tourists, plenty of them,   and really appreciative. Oh, then came the  pandemic, of course, but in a way that now   businesses are starting to pick up again, I think  this sector will be even more interesting after   the pandemic. And the reason is because all the  big tour operators that we work with the TUI,   Budget Holiday, now they introduced  infection prevention control routines,   so that makes it safer for people with  disabilities than it was before the pandemic,   right. This has always been a  vulnerable group, but now there would be  

safer ways of handling infection of all kinds. So  that's, that's why I think that it's really going   to grow and also in that report I mentioned from  World Tourist Organization, they identify that in   2000, there was 11% of the population was over 60  in the world. 2050, they expect that will double   to 22% of the population. That's 2 billion  people that will need better accessibility.   So, I think the future for this  kind of tourists and for people   that are older, it's needed. It's a real  necessity for the world to improve this,   not only for people in wheelchair because I mean  when you say accessibility often think about   wheelchairs, but you also I mean, you break your  leg, you're 30 and you break your leg temporary,   you need accessible solutions. You get  pregnant, you get fat, you get babies,  

whatever. All of these situations you need more  accessible environments. So, we shouldn't just   think about wheelchairs, there's so many others  that benefits from these kinds of solutions.   And therefore, I think it's a really  good thing to go for this. And also,   the business cases coming. That's what we seeing,  the industry needs to wake up and create concepts   for people. And it's good business, especially  when you combine it with the public sector. And  

that's why we now recently started this concept  in Stockholm too. Before we only did the public   sector trips, but now we open a big branch for the  inclusive transport for all kinds of people. We   already got bookings from US and everywhere. There  are, there is a niche and there are some players  

who specialize in these kind of tourists, but  also the big cruise companies are very accessible.   And the biggest complaint that the people on  determination have is when it comes to tourists.   The number one complaint they have is local  transport. That's the top of the list. That's   number four on other tourist’s complaints list.  That's number one to people of determination.   So, I think there’s great  opportunities for this in the future.  

Renate: Excellent, thank you so much. So,   I'm just listening to you and looking at the  report that you mentioned and also on the, the   feedback that we received from service providers  and companies working in the hospitality and event   industry is indeed that accessible or  inclusive, transportation, and accessible   buildings and events on all levels, are decisive  factor when they make their decisions right for   any destination. Ingemar:   Can I add something more that Tina said that I  like? It's like very important thing is also to   train the people. That's the key. I mean, they  have taxis here, who can take wheelchair but   the drivers don't, they have their own attitude.  They get special pay and you need to be trained   to handle people like this. So therefor we  only recruited from hospitality or health care   because they have the right mindset. You know,  you don't need just a driver to handle these  

kinds of services. You need really a good  attitude on people, people who like people   basically. Renate:   Absolutely. And I think this is really part  of this equation right. That on the one hand   we need those international standards. So, we  are able to audit the ecosystem, the transport,  

the information system, the built environment. But the other part of the equation is indeed the   kind of added attitudinal change that we need to  see in people and this often happens when those   standards are indeed implemented, right, because  then there is already incentives and then now also   clear guidelines. So, talking about those clear  guidelines. I would like to bring in Lourdes, who   is champion of the MENA, CPABE initiatives  and talk about this newly launched   service and standards that might, exactly,  bring this one part of the equation,   to the MENA region, Lourdes, please. Lourdes:   Thank you, Renate. Yeah, thanks. So, yeah, part  of contributing to this, what they, they just   mention about the accessible built environment as  a first step toward inclusive tourists. Right.   IAAP, the International Association  of Accessibility Professionals,   has prepared a certification for professionals  in accessible built environment. This credential  

is committed to recognize those professionals  who have acquired the knowledge and the   skills to implement an accessible built  environments around the world. Right.   This is because, as it was mentioned, there is a  standard, there is always regulations or documents   as a, as a reference to do a place accessible  right, but not all the professionals have the   right skills, right. So, what we are aiming to  do with this certification is ensure that those   professionals who are leading these accessibility  projects are really meeting the required skills   to develop them and then they really are  having an overview of what is required for,   in order to ensure an accessible  built environment. You know that   this is a key piece for the tourists right because  it's not long, only talking about the hotel   but it's everything. Is the airport right, the  train station, all, all the pieces that include   doing a trip, right, how do I start the  trip. How, if I want to go to the opera,   if I want to go to the concert. I mean, the  public places, the public spaces also that  

involves accessible tourists right so what we want  to do, and that we are sure that through this new   chapter that we are launching, we will be ensuring  to help to foster in the region that all the   professionals that are leading these accessibility  projects are having the right certification   to deliver their projects. Renate:   Excellent. And I think this is really one  of the most crucial stepping stones towards   a more established standard of accessibility in  the region as this is indeed missing. We have,   we see particularly here in the GCC a full array  of self-claimed and sometimes self-taught experts   in accessibility who bring varying  degrees of expertise and competences   to the playing field and, I think, also,  to safeguard people's determination   and to support public and private  representatives and initiatives.   We need to establish an international standard,  which of course can be always adapted according to   the local and national needs and  strategic decisions but to have this   joint standard I think it's really  important and would really accelerate   the quality of life and services  here in the region tremendously.  

And at this point, so thank you Lourdes for this.  I think this is really important to have this full   picture. And at this point, I think it's really a  perfect opportunity to bring in, Sam Evans, who is   leading the certifications of IAAP on different  levels. And this is exactly the missing piece in   our discussion so far. So, Sam if you could share  more information on the different certificates.   Sam: Thank you for making time for   us to join you today. We're so excited to support  the launch of the IAAP UAE chapter. Lourdes has   had an opportunity to share with you a bit about  the Certified Professional in Accessible Built   Environments, which is, I think will be of the  most interest to the goals of the UAE chapter.  

Let me speak just for a moment about high  level overview about certifications and how   IAAP delivers those levels of establishment of  knowledge, our certification programs are all   professional certifications so they're voluntary.  They're not tied to a course or a class or an   educational outcome. So, they are an assessment  of knowledge that the candidate brings with them.   So, it is a way for individuals, companies,  organizations and groups to establish a shared   bit of knowledge, a shared understanding of  concepts, terms and policies and procedures. So   our certifications are valid for three years, and  they require the person who holds the credential   to maintain their certification by engaging  in learning active professional development   or leading the learning themselves by sharing  their knowledge. So they're valid for three  

years and can be renewed after someone sits and  writes the exam and then earns their credential.   Renate: Fantastic. And it's truly,   truly enlightening and exciting at the same  time to see on how many levels IAAP is tackling   the acceleration of accessibility and setting  standards, and I have a final question for you,   Sam. That we hear quite often from organizations  and experts working with us and looking at the  

certifications. They would like to know who is the  body of experts who is defining the certifications   and adapting it and updating it. Sam:   So, great question. So, certification orgs,  organizations that offer certifications,   credentials, have a governing body that oversees  the policies administrations and development,   and so we do have a Certification Committee, and  that is created, I think we have 13 members around   the world that have specialties in each of the  different domains of accessibility inclusion,   and they are guiding group that oversees how the  programs and certification delivery is managed.   Now we have specialists for each certification  that are subject matter experts that work and   have long lasting experience in each of the  topic areas. So, these people are the ones  

that develop the concept. The concept is called a  job task analysis originally. What are the things,   somebody who does this work would be expected to  do, and that we expect someone has the capacity to   deliver on. And so those concepts are originally  put together with subject matter experts,   and then a survey is created, and that is  justified and validated by people in the public,   saying yes we agree. This is something that  the minimally qualified candidate can do,  

should know how to do. And it's important and they  give us a weighted importance of those job tasks.   From that we build the body of knowledge and from  there we then develop the certification exam.   With the help of scientists that  specialize in exam creation, etc.  

But we do revise those and we revisit the content  every year and a half at the year and a half to   two years depending on how things go to revisit  anything that's listed in the body of knowledge   and the exam for updates, new item writing,  updating links and resources. And then every   few years, depending on what happens in the market  and then in the world, every three to five years   to revisit that original job task list, to see if  there are other things that needed to be added.   Are these concepts still relevant to the candidate  that this is geared towards. So, it's a really   interesting process and, and it's far more  advanced than writing a few sets of questions so,   but we really call on our international subject  matter experts who live, eat, work and breathe   this as disabled people as subject matter experts  and accessibility professionals to help guide   and craft and maintain these programs. Renate:   Super. I think this was really a really relevant  information to round up all the great introduction  

that you gave us. Thank you so much, Sam. Sam:   You’re very welcome. Thank you. Renate:   And before we are wrapping up and, as this is the   start of a new year. I would like to bring back  our regional experts, Tina, Ingemar and Mohammed,   and would like to hear from them in a short  statement. What do you expect in 2022 for your   specific area of work when it comes  to accessibility and services and   opportunities for people of determination.  Tina, would you like to get started.  

Tina: Yes, I would like to get started but at the   same time I want to add something. When it comes  to, to the certification system. What is very   very important is that you don't, or that you not  just only involve someone consultant to check your   drawings in the design phase, especially what I've  noticed from my experience that you invoke this   person also doing the tendering process during  the construction process, and at the same time,   also in the handle the process, because this is  where you, where the mistakes happen. I mean I   can have the best design. But if the procurement  does not allow accessibility or accessibility,   it's not part of human process, then it might  not be accessible. I mean I've seen for example,  

hitch support bars. When I lift them up, they  just fall down and can actually hit someone.   So, it is very important and what I hope to  see is that accessibility or universal design   is implemented throughout all building phases, and  at the same, which also includes the maintenance.   And at the same time also accessibility  or included or universal designed to be   included in the procurement process, and that the  municipalities are involved when the building will   be handed over, and also check if the building  is actually accessible, or universally designed.   So, this is what I hope for the  future. Talking about my experience.  

Renate: Thank you so much that's hopefully at the end of   this upcoming year we meet again,  and hopefully all your expectations,   will be met. Mohammed, what is on your wish list  for 2022 and what do we expect for the region?   Mohammed, I can't hear you. You might be muted. Mohammed:   Can you hear me now? Renate:   Yeah, perfect. Mohammed:  

Perfect. Well, I was saying that, as IAAP now  is expanding in the region, starting with this   wonderful opportunity of launching our chapter  in UAE in partnership with SEDRA and it's also,   and the chapter members there. We're hoping to start seeing that   all stakeholders, with regard to rights of persons  with disabilities, particularly in the field of   business, banking, industrial sector, tourism,  as we are now. You know, presenting this through   the International Accessible Tourism Summit, and  beyond to see all the all of them realizing that   accessibility and inclusion are not beneficial  only for persons with disabilities but it's also   beneficial for everybody. As Ingemar said,   rightly so that inclusion and accessibility, are  very important to enabling everybody to enjoy   opportunity of tourism, and especially  nowadays with the world is more recognizing   Rights of Persons with Disabilities, thanks to the  CRPD, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with   Disabilities and the Sustainable Development  Goals, as well as the habit at three when   we advocated for including disability in the  habit at three now we have around 15 times   disability as mentioned and having at three on  urban development, this is an excellent segue for   making sure that disability is part of every  single aspect of urban development tourism   accessibility and beyond. Thank you. Renate:   Thank you, Mohammed. And I think  you really described it and framed  

it perfectly that accessibility is part of  every aspect of urban life. So, Ingemar, your   expectations, wish list for 2022. Ingemar:   Well, obviously for tourists to pick up,  the pandemic be gone soon. We have had   enough strains now I don't want another  one, everyone vaccine, let's move on.  

And it's also important for the recovery of  the economy because tourism is 10% of our GDP,   is 10% of the budget GDP and one in 11 jobs is  in tourism. In the UAE is 30% of the economy,   in Thailand it’s 25%, Bali 85%. So tourism is  really needed. Accessible tourism will help that   because every, people of determination  that travel, bring an average of 2.3.   The trend in tourists models wise is  fixed for free and independent traveler,   people travel individually right. Whereas people  of determination can’t, and they don't so attract   one of them you get 2.4 as the result. And  now with all the routines come in, they,  

they can travel safer, and they also have big  budgets. I mean, as I said, 2015, we're going to   be 20% of the world's population, and many of them  are just old and need some accessible solutions.   And they have plenty of money, so it's a good  investment to go for accessibility especially now.   It will help recovery of the economy and  the growth of the economy for the future.  

So, it's a good timing for it. Renate:   Absolutely, thank you and you built  a perfect business case that is also   the, the foundation for the Rights of Persons with  Disabilities, right. The right to participate,   the rights to contribute and  accessibility and the opportunity and the   capacity to travel to wherever they, people of  determination want to go, is I think an empty,   part of it so it's not only a nice and relevant  business case as you mentioned, it's also   really the manifestation of the  Rights of Persons of determination.   Really, I'm so impressed by all  the insights, and the overviews we   had in the last minutes and as we all know,  people of determination, people with disabilities   often don't get the services they need from  the public, from the service providers,   from corporates. And that's the message, I think  all of us, heard from people we are working from   our own experience and we all wrestle  with those quite complex challenges,   ranging from as Tina mentioned, implementing  accessibility already in the procurement process   to adding accessibility, as a standard in  the tourism industry also to tap into new   markets, and we heard it all before Mohammed  that accessibility is and should be a part of   daily life in all aspects. And I'm so glad that  we had Sam and Lourdes joining us, adding the and   outlining the opportunities, how to get those  standards here into the UAE, and I think with all   this drove of knowledge and all those pioneers,  change drivers, integrators, and advocates here   on the call. I'm so confident and positive that  the UAE chapter will definitely bring a different  

kind of quality to the UAE and beyond and  I'm so glad that so many committed experts   are part of this. Thank you so much for this.  Looking forward to all the next steps. Thank you.

2022-01-20 05:11

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