Saudi Arabia are accessibility leaders – are you?

Saudi Arabia are accessibility leaders – are you?

Aya Abdullah Jibreal headshot.
Aya Abdullah Jibreal   |  03.16.20
Senior Inclusive Design Consultant, Qaderoon Business Disability Network

It became known that human diversity is a key factor in improving a company’s efficiency and productivity as well as encouraging competitiveness and development. In the past few years, this realization became known in the Saudi business sector as it is witnessing many changes. This diversity includes persons with disabilities. According to a survey conducted in 2017 by The Saudi General Authority for Statistics, about 10 percent of the Saudi population has some form of disability, thus, many Saudi employers and business owners are becoming increasingly aware about the value of persons with disabilities as productive individuals when recruited in the labor market.

A Governmental Vision

The importance of developing supportive environments for persons with disabilities was reflected in the Kingdom's vision 2030. This was translated in many governmental initiatives supported by Saudi businesses. The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, which is tasked with ensuring persons with disabilities can secure sustainable employment, launched “Tawafuq,” an employment program for persons with disabilities, in 2014. “Tawafuq,” Arabic for “success in pairing,” ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities.

In 2017, The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) launched an initiative called “Mowaamah,” Arabic for “adaptability,” a certification program aimed at increasing the number of companies that can hire persons with disabilities. This program started to gain the attention of companies; not only for its governmental incentives but also for its inclusive approach to the different aspects of the company.

In the same year MHRSD issued several policies within the Kingdom’s Labor Law, which include the work and recruitment of persons with disabilities.  These regulations have been followed by a guiding table that includes a range of services and arrangements that offer practical solutions and tools to adapt and develop the workplace for persons with disabilities. These arrangements were classified according to the employee’s disability type and degree/level.

In 2018, The Authority for the Care of Persons with Disabilities was founded. It is a Saudi government agency that aims to care for persons with disabilities and ensure that they obtain their rights related to disability and to enhance the services provided by them thought the kingdom.

A Network of Enablers

My 6 years of experience in the field of Accessibility and Disability inclusion started with the birth of Qaderoon Business Disability Network in 2014. “Qaderoon Network,” Arabic for “we are able,” is a national business disability network that provides guidance, advice, and training for employers to recruit, retain and include employees with disabilities.

“Qaderoon Network” worked with 50+ companies around Saudi Arabia to develop more inclusive and accessible work environments for both employees and customers with disabilities. This development includes all aspects related to the business, such as; premises, policies, recruitment processes, communication and other standards.  Also, it must be taken into consideration that supportive services and accommodations must be provided for persons with disabilities to achieve accessibility in the building or in the technical and vocational environment.

The Approach

The main point that must be taken into consideration when developing a supportive work environment for persons with disabilities can be summarized as follows:
  • Identifying the effect of disability in all the business aspects, such as; identifying the effect of different types of disabilities on the skills required for completing a certain task and finding other ways to accomplish the task.
  • Eliminating the barriers that encounter persons with disabilities, such as; applying the standards of Universal Design to the premises and providing an equal training and developing opportunities for employees with disabilities.
  • Providing inclusive services and accommodations needed by persons with disabilities, such as; sign language interpreters when needed and using alternative communication methods such as using accessible e-documents for the visually impaired.

About the Blogger

Aya Abdullah Jibreal

Senior Inclusive Design Consultant at Qaderoon Business Disability Network. Aya became interested in accessibility since taking a “Human Factors” course back in university in 2007. This interest grew over the time until she decided to gain more knowledge as a professional and got her first certification as a disability case manager in 2016.

In 2019, Aya got her CPACC certification as the first professional to take it in Saudi Arabia. Aya is currently working on completing her Masters in Inclusive Design from OCAD University, Toronto, Canada.

Aya gained lots of experience working as a consultant or trainer with many major entities and businesses around the kingdom and explored how accessibility can be successfully adopted in different business environments.

Aya also sits on an internal committee for IAAP Strategic Leader in Accessibility (SLiA) initiative.

As part of their investigations and taskforce initiatives to explore the potential of this certification, IAAP has opened a Community of Practice through its IAAP Connections platform to further the discussion and receive direct feedback from its membership. In order to take part in the Community of Practice individuals must be either a professional or organizational member of IAAP. Please visit the IAAP membership/benefits page to review membership options or contact IAAP directly at membership@accessibilityassociation.org.

 

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