The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi reviewed the latest achievements of the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination, which was launched in 2020 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The DCD highlighted numerous achievements that had a meaningful impact on various sectors with the aim of providing an inclusive and empowering society for people of determination. These achievements are the product of the strategy’s taskforce's continued commitment and integrated efforts, including health & rehabilitation, education, employment, social care, universal access, and enablers.
The event was attended by H.H Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the board of directors of the Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, and H.E Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community in Abu Dhabi. And a number of senior officials in various sectors, leaders of the pillars, and owners of strategic initiatives, During the event, the attendees signed a pledge to make the Emirate of Abu Dhabi an inclusive, accessible, and enabling city for people of determination, and they commit to provide a system of policies and programs and an appropriate environment that allow People of Determination an equitable access to rights, services, and opportunities. With the aim to make our cohesive society equitable in supporting and empowering all its members, as part of our work in the Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination.
His Excellency Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, expressed his pride on the strategy’s achievements over the past two years. He stated that these milestones the close cooperation between the public and private sectors, and the joint commitment to provide all means of empowerment and support to people of determination.
Al Khaili said: “. Since its launch, the strategy has been a paradigm shift in inclusion and empowerment of people of determination, and a model for the integrated efforts of the public and private sectors to provide them with an inclusive and enabling environment. Moreover, the strategy is comes in line with the national strategies and directions of promoting the empowerment and active participation of people of determination across all sectors, and with the aim of consolidating Abu Dhabi’s leading position in the area of empowerment of People of Determination who are a vital part of the community development. In fact, the emirate of Abu Dhabi has been keen to provide an inclusive environment that allows equitable access to people of determination to services, opportunities, and rights. And we look forward to achieving more milestones and further expanding and strengthening partnerships with all entities to ensure effective implementation of Abu Dhabi Strategy for People of Determination until 2024.”
Within the “Enablers Pillar” led by the Department of Community Development, the strategy governance model is fully activated with 13 key government entities including the formation of 6 working groups across the strategic pillars, the formation and activation of the change management network to ensure effective participation, communication and integration among the concerned authorities and the setting-up of a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure progress and impact of the strategy. Furthermore, a service catalogue with 22 prioritized services for POD and their families across health, education, and social services has been designed along with the funding requirements to ensure an integrated system of care and that POD and families access quality and affordable services. Additionally, and as part of the capacity building program to build the skills and the mindset of entities responsible of implementing the strategy on disability inclusive practices, 16 governmental entities were trained in 2021 on developing policies and programs that are inclusive of POD, while in 2022, 30 government entities are targeted to be trained on inclusive data, so POD are counted as part of statistics and indicators. Finally, DCD has designed assisted living services with the aim to launch these services to enable POD adults live as autonomously as possible and has initiated the work on a policy for the protection of POD from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and discrimination.
There have been numerous achievements in the past two years by the employment task force, which is led by the Abu Dhabi Human Resources Authority.
These achievements include the development of the inclusive employment policy for POD in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the incorporation of POD employment journey within the Job placement centers. Additionally, the launching of the "Colleagues of Determination" program, which is an awareness program for Abu Dhabi government employees on disability and how to deal with and support their colleagues of determination in the work environment, targeted 68 government entities. And this program has been incorporated in the online training platform (Coursera) which allows Abu Dhabi government employees to access the program at any time in partnership with Abu Dhabi School of Government and Zayed higher organization for POD.
Led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK), the education pillar launched the “Empower Inclusion Training platform” to provide access to professional development on themes of Inclusion to educators where 24 Webinars were held targeting 21, 172 attendees.
And to guide and support improved approaches to inclusion for schools, ADEK developed the inclusion policy, framework and guidance handbooks and launched a policy and system to support delivery of in-school specialist services and therapies to children in schools.
Furthermore, an “Autism Inclusion project” was established where 46 children transitioned from specialized schools to mainstream schools and are receiving support. Also, an “Autism Resource Bases” was established to support students with Autism in Mainstream Schools where 2 specialist classes in charters school were opened and are serving 20 students.
Finally, a key achievement was the opening of Al Karamah Training Institute to provide vocational training and Employment specific skills to young people with Autism to Support their transition from School to Employment where currently 48 students are served.
Health and Rehabilitation Pillar
The health and rehabilitation pillar, led by the Department of Health and Early Childhood Authority, designed an assessment framework for Persons with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities.
The early childhood Authority developed the Integrated Early Childhood Intervention System framework to ensure a holistic multidisciplinary support and services for children with disabilities or developmental delays and their families including 19 initiatives recommended to enable the future Integrated Early Childhood Intervention System. And within this framework, five pilot projects were undertaken including the development of “Abu Dhabi Early Intervention Guide” to help parent and caregiver find the information they need in the area of early intervention , Parental awareness of early childhood development, developmental milestones, and delays, Health Care Practitioners’ capacity building, Universal developmental surveillance and screening project, and early intervention training for parents and caregivers of Children of Determination. Furthermore, 16 webinars with expert speakers were conducted to promote continuous learning and best-in-class intervention and targeted more than 140 government representatives and frontline practitioners.
Social Care Pillar
The social care pillar, led by Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination, witnessed numerous achievements during the past two years. It completed the database for people of determination in Abu Dhabi, that records all data and information that will assist institutions in the Emirate in planning services for people of determination. It also launched the Disability Classification Guide for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi – Third Edition in line with the Unified National Classification of Disabilities, disseminated it across entities and activated it with 12 high-impact government entities to ensure that POD with various needs have access to services in these entities.
Furthermore, a smart application for early detection of children with developmental delay during early stages of life was also designed and completed where 2153 cases were evaluated and 1859 children with developmental delays were recorded until 2022, which will ensure starting intevrntion as early as possible.
Additionally, with the efforts of people of determination, a 3D printing workshop was established, where eight people of determination with intellectual disabilities were employed and produced 3,680 products supplied to strategic partners. Also, ten commercial licenses have been issued for people of determination to promote POD participation in ‘Matjery’, a virtual market for productive families. Using the latest technologies and artificial intelligence, the Prosthetic Workshop also has been established. Furthermore, the ‘Hemam’ (determination) service was launched for for family counselling for people of determination, with 9,250 psychological and social counselling given to families of POD until July 2022.
Several more initiatives such as the launch of sensory rooms project for people of determination was kicked off in April 2021, in which sensory rooms have been installed in shopping malls and vital areas in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to provide a safe space for people of determination. Under this project, four sensory rooms were set, with two being at the airport and two in malls. Moreover, an accessible and inclusive park in the Corniche of Abu Dhabi equipped to enhance sensory skills for POD in addition to the installation of accessible outdoor games was opened in the Humanitarian City. And finally, ZHO along with the Authority of Social Contribution (Ma’an), Aldar Properties, Aldar Education and DCD launched the ATMAH project for vocational training and transition to employment that served 25 people of determination with cognitive disabilities who have completed a 12-month program, that include 6-month work placement, with a view of securing a permanent job.
Universal Access Pillar
The universal access task force, led by the Department of Municipalities and Transport, and in partnership with Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism, Abu Dhabi Housing Authority, Abu Dhabi Digital Authority, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Airports Corporation, and Abu Dhabi Ports Group achieved numerous milestones in the last two years.
The Department of Municipalities and Transport, launched a total of 17 inclusive parks in Al Ain to promote social inclusion for POD and their families., Additionally, the department enhanced accessibility standards in various fields in line with the UAE code for universal design including residential buildings, protection standards from fire risks, public Realm design, Community facility planning standards, and Mosques development regulations.
Similarly, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, in collaboration with Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, completed accessibility audits and assessment of 25 sports clubs and is working on enhancing the accessibility of 12 sports clubs to be inclusive as phase 1. In addition, 213 POD participated in the community sports events carried out by the council. It also launched nine awareness workshops aimed at raising awareness on healthy lifestyles and physical activity for POD players, trainers, supervisors, and parents targeting 847 attendees.
Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi Housing Authority achieved notable milestones such as providing the Mustasharik (your advisor) service, to support POD in identifying needs and reviewing housing design plans. Customer service employees have been trained to interact with POD with hearing disabilities, while dedicating a priority service line for POD to ensure seamless and quick responses by the Authority’s call centre. Additionally, the Authority has updated the current residential communities’ manual to include specifications that consider the needs of POD with physical disabilities and accordingly capital housing projects have been implemented. People of determination reaped the benefits of housing packages in 2021 and 2022, with 662 POD from Abu Dhabi availing from housing loans and 158 obtaining residential land grants.
The capital housing project was launched based on the first draft of the first edition of the Residential Communities Guide in Al Dhafra region. In 2021, Al Mughaira Residential Project was implemented. Under this project, 410 residences were offered to POD. In addition, mosques, malls, parks, recreational areas for POD, jogging paths, cycling paths, and sport games were also constructed. Sweihan Residential Project was implemented in 2022 in which 204 housings will be offered to POD. It includes mosques, malls, parks, recreational areas for POD, jogging paths, cycling paths, and sports. Additionally, the Al Falah Project will offer 899 housings for POD.
In an effort to make culture and tourism sectors inclusive and accessible to POD, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism has initiated a study at these sites to increase accessibility by pinpointing gaps and improvement plans. Libraires across the emirate have conducted over 30 programs for POD, with the participation of 882 people of determination. Awareness workshops on tourism accessibility were held in the presence of 72 representatives of hotels and tourism attractions.
Abu Dhabi Digital Authority has also achieved various feats, such as completing the development of the standards and guidelines for accessibility to government websites and TAMM platform. The Authority also completed “People of Determination Empower journey” which includes the main services available to POD from different government entities through a unified digital experience on "TAMM". The Standards & Guidelines for POD’s comprehensive access on TAMM App & Platform is currently being adapted, where an updated version of the “TAMM” website and application expected to launch providing access to more than 700 government services through the “TAMM” digital channels in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The Abu Dhabi Airports Corporation developed the infrastructure of Abu Dhabi International Airport to make it accessible for POD travellers. They also launched two sensory units for POD with autism, and Etihad flights are giving priority travel access to POD. Additionally, dedicated counters and smart gates have been installed to guide POD travellers at departure and baggage inspection.
Furthermore, the AD Ports Group have also made efforts to ensure an inclusive marine travel experience for POD, at terminal 1 and 2 at the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal - Zayed Port, the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach (the Western Region), and Marsa Mina.