Thematic areas: ICT, Education, Equality.

Country: Egypt

In Egypt, there are many hearing impaired persons that suffer from illiteracy, low income and poor chances in education and employment. In addition, they live in isolation from the rest of the society because of the lack of communication with normal people due to their disability.

Tawasol was launched in 2015 by “Khalifa Computer Group” (KCG), an Egyptian family-owned IT company upon identifying the challenges facing those with hearing impairment in Egypt. The founder, Dr. Adel Khalifa decided to adopt a strategy to build an infrastructure that can aid those with hearing disability in their paths in education, employment, and breaking the barrier of communication with society. The Khalifa Computer Group in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Education developed the package of software which aims to improve quality of life for people with disabilities by using ICTs to facilitate access to information and knowledge, boost interaction with the community and increase opportunities for employment. Thus, Tawasol was designed as computer software for disabled students, theirs teachers, and family members to enhance communication between each other and the society.

The KCG team faced a numbers of challenges that prevents adopting standard tools from the developed countries in Egypt such as: 1) The native language in Egypt is Arabic, 2) The Egyptian Sign language for Deaf is not unified and is definitely different from the American or European sign language, 3) A large number of the Deaf in Egypt are illiterate and 4) In spite of the governmental law that 5% of the employment in all companies and governmental offices should be from people with special needs, the law is not applied.

Thus, KCG team developed a new strategy for building an infrastructure of assistive technology tools suitable for the Egyptian environment and the Deaf people there. The research leads to achieving four components for these tools: