Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, has designated the laureates of the 2020-2021 UNESCO/Emir Jaber al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities:
- In the individual category, Eduardo Pérez from Colombia is recognized for his pioneering work in developing technology-based resources for people with visual and hearing impairment. He has created technological and educational tools for Sign Language users in the Spanish speaking world. The tools have been distributed for free in Colombia and have influenced public policy. His strategy has always been to include students with disabilities in the process of creating learning resources using gamification to make educational content appealing. His work also empowers students to be more autonomous and gain proficiency in self advocacy.
- In the organizational category, Mada- Assistive Technology Center Qatar is recognized as a driver and facilitator for inclusion whose work is integrated into governmental strategies, legislation and social policy . The centre is a model for sustainable application of technology for the inclusion of people with disabilities. The Mada Assistive Technology Center is also recognized for the excellence of its work in research and development, application, consulting and standardization, making Assistive Technology available for users with disabilities, implementing accessibility principles and strengthening international cooperation. It is also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing concrete solutions that support access to inclusive information on education, culture and community development issues.
The Prize, supported by The State of Kuwait, recognizes the outstanding contributions by individuals and organizations that have successfully promoted the inclusion and enhancement of persons with disabilities through the effective and innovative application of digital solutions. Each of the laureates is to receive an award of $20,000.
The laureates were chosen on the recommendation of the international jury established by UNESCO to evaluate nominations. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the award ceremony is scheduled to take place on 23 March 2021 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
The search for solutions to the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic must address the most affected as a priority. I call on the international community to ensure that the response to the crisis includes people with disabilities.
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General
UNESCO invites all stakeholders to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) whose theme this year is “Building back better: towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world by, for and with persons with disabilities”. Main events organized by UNESCO this year include:
- Webinar “Disability inclusive response for COVID-19 through Open and Distance Learning”
- Webinar “Share your Story for Development”
- Global awareness raising campaign “Tell our story – enable our rights”
- #DisabilityDay #IDPD #ThisAbility
The event is open to the public, and particularly to persons with disabilities.