Saturday,18 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1369, (16-22 November 2017)
Saturday,18 November, 2017
Issue 1369, (16-22 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Help is a click away

A campaign to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the differently abled has already resulted in Cairo University becoming wheelchair-friendly, reports Mai Samih

 

Help is a click away
Help is a click away

Hisham Mohamed, a student with impaired mobility at Cairo University’s Faculty of Arts, is impressed by developments at the university which are making his life easier.

“New ramps at the main gate now allow wheelchair access. In the past we had to wait for people to lift our wheelchairs onto the pavement before we could enter the campus,” says Mohamed.

The ramps are part of a wider initiative, funded by money raised by NGOs through online campaigning, to raise consciousness about the problems faced by the differently abled.

Helm Foundation is one of the partners involved in the online initiative “Click” which helps people with special needs. Al haraka be klick (movement with a click) is a funding campaign launched by Helm in partnership with a private company and the Drosos Foundation which seeks to raise awareness about the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities.

Helm has posted a video on Facebook advocating for the rights of the differently abled — a sign language version of the video is available for those with impaired hearing — and every share, comment, seen or like of the video is translated into points that are then transformed into material contributions from the campaign’s sponsors — banks and an array of private businesses. Money raised by the campaign has already been earmarked for improving wheelchair access to Cairo University, from the main gates to the nearest transport hubs and two kilometres of sidewalks for the visually impaired have been constructed.

“We chose to start with the area around Cairo University because more than 250,000 students use it daily of whom 1,000 have some form of disability,” says Helm Foundation’s Chairwoman Amna Al-Saei.

The access campaign is being conducted in cooperation with Giza governorate and the National Authority for Tunnels and sponsors include the Agence française de développement (AFD).

Point targets were met within 12 hours of the campaign’s launch, and within four days the video had accrued four million views, 170,000 shares and 70,000 comments, says Alben de Monoufel, one of the founders of the company that launched the initiative.

“The response shows Internet surfers are aware of the challenges faced by the impaired and are eager to help overcome some of the obstacles they face,” says Monoufel.

“Our aim is to guarantee new public buildings are accessible by everyone,” says Ramez Maher, executive manager of the Helm Foundation.

“We want to pave the way for people with impairments to live full lives and ensure they are integrated in society.”

In addition to advocating for greater accessibility Helm also hopes to prepare people for the work place by offering training programmes.

Cairo University is a first step in the organisation’s ultimate goal which is to change how the physically impaired are perceived in Egypt.

“Click is a completely NGO-led initiative,” said Cairo University spokesman, Fathi Abbas. “We have about 1,000 impaired students enrolled at the university and we are working for their benefit.”

Last year, Abbas reports, a businessman donated three golf carts to the university to help students with impaired mobility move between faculties, and the university bought a fourth.

“We want to develop the metro area at the very end of the university campus because unfortunately the stairs are too high for some of our students to climb. Professors of urban planning at the Faculty of Engineering are ready to give free planning advice as we work on developments that will assist us in achieving our goals for the differently abled.”

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