4.7 billion people suffer globally from hearing and vision loss or impairment

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: International experts and exhibitors praised the UAE’s exceptional efforts to empower People of Determination and provide them with a decent livelihood which embodies the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai to provide the most advanced services and technologies that enable them to overcome challenges in their daily life.

Experts emphasized AccessAbilities Expo, which is held annually in Dubai under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, and is considered the largest of its kind in the Middle East, contributes to attracting the most modern technologies invented by global companies to serve more than 50 million People with Special Needs in the Middle Eastern countries.

The advanced technologies, numbering more than 4,500 globally, serve the people suffering from movement, visual, hearing, intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum, and play a crucial role in empowering People of Determination who constitute between 10-15 per cent of the population in each country. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the number of People of Determination at about one billion people at present and expects their numbers to rise to two billion in 2050 due to advancing age, wars, ill-health, poverty, and lack of services and other reasons.

Giscard Bechara, Director, Starkey MEA FZCO, said: “Our company supports people with hearing challenges in the UAE. We showcased the first AI-based integrated hearing devices in Expo’s third edition, and the Evolv AI device provided a new hearing system. It focuses not only on the impact of hearing on human being’s overall health but on creating an easy life experience for those hard of hearing, due to the years of research and the use of science-based algorithms to provide high-fidelity sound similar to the hearing system that humans have.”

He praised the UAE's efforts in caring for People of Determination and providing them with a decent life, with the level of rehabilitation services available in the country being comparable with that of the best countries in the world.

AccessAbilities Expo, organised by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Event Management, is considered the largest of its kind in the Middle East. More than 250 companies and rehabilitation centres from over 50 countries are expected to participate, with the number of visitors expected to reach 10,000.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with hearing disabilities and impairment will reach about 2.5 billion and about 700 million people will need hearing rehabilitation services by 2050. More than a billion young people are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices, it stated. More than five per cent of the world’s population – over 430 million people - need rehabilitation to treat “disabling” hearing loss.  

Andy Faulkner, CEO of Topland, said: “AccessAbilities Expo is an ideal platform to showcase our technologies, most notably the WeWalk Smart Cane device which allows remote verification of the distance between the parking space and the nearest bus station, in addition to reading bus schedules aloud. 

The notification when the bus is approaching, allows visually impaired people to reduce waiting time at the bus station and avoid crowding. The other technologies serve the blind and visually impaired that can be provided in all public and private facilities visited by customers of determination.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) says at least 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from low vision or blindness, of whom at least one billion people have preventable or untreated vision impairment. This came in the first global report issued by the WHO, indicating more than a billion people worldwide suffer from low vision as they do not get the care they needed for conditions such as nearsightedness and cataracts.

The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “Eye diseases and visual impairment are common and often go untreated. He added: “It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have low vision when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that more than 800 million people struggle with daily activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses.”

Quarantine has affected children

Engineer Ahmed Saleh, Business Development Manager for Life World Medical Supplies, said: “The quarantine period, during the pandemic, has affected children, especially People of Determination, in terms of playing and moving freely and smoothly. Independent mobility plays a major role in the early stages of mental development for children. We will introduce a very advanced electric wheelchair, Kameleon. Designed for children between 3-12 years, it is to ensure their movement from one place to another safely.”

Free dental check-up 

Dr Zainab Jamal, President of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry - University of Sharjah Student Chapter, said: “We support People with Special Needs by organizing activities that include dental examinations, free medical examinations at our mobile clinics and educational seminars. We also allow the community to develop a better relationship with patients with Special Needs and raising awareness about their conditions and the importance of volunteering. Active participation in the community makes us proud and motivates to give more and more everyday. Our participation in the AccessAbilities Expo is an opportunity to be present and meet with People of Determination and educate them about the importance of the dental health to maintain their over health levels.”