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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Qatar set to deliver full World Cup experience for people with disabilities


Qatar aims to host the most accessible tournament ever held in sports history. 

Disabled fans have been promised access to a range of digital content for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar, where organisers are keen on providing a full and unique experience for all.

“The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) works closely with local organisations to ensure content on its website, mobile apps and digital documents can be enjoyed by all fans, irrespective of their accessibility needs,” Qatar 2022 said in a statement. 

The SC is working closely with Qatar’s disability community to support efforts to host an all-inclusive tournament for footballing fans.

“The Accessibility Forum is very important as it enables us to work directly with people with disabilities and ensure that the accessibility standards we have put in place across stadiums and digital content meet all their needs,” said Khaled Al Suwaidi, the SC’s Stakeholder Relations Senior Manager.

Among the many contributors to the forum is the Qatar Social and Cultural Club for the Blind, whose chairman, Faisal Al Kohaji, who also works as a legal advisor in the oil and gas industry, said digital accessibility is crucial for him and millions of other football fans around the world.

Read also: 2022 World Cup ‘a catalyst’ for labour reform in Qatar: official

Al Kohaji explained that “e-accessibility means access to information for everyone, most notably people with disabilities. Through the implementation of international e-accessibility standards, fans with disabilities can independently access the Qatar 2022 website and mobile apps to find out information about stadiums and touristic destinations.”

Al Kohaji, who uses text to speech technology to access digital content through his smartphone, noted that the purpose behind the Accessibility Forum is employing differently abled people to examine all the major digital touchpoints of the tournament and ensure that they are accessible to everyone.

These include websites and apps that share Qatar 2022 updates and encourage others to follow suit, including those that will be used to book flights and hotels.

“Another founding member of the Accessibility Forum – and a key partner in helping the SC’s e-accessibility efforts – is Mada Assistive Technology Center Qatar. Established in 2010, Mada has been leading the country’s digital accessibility efforts, with its work recently recognised at the global level,” Qatar 2022 added. 

Mada’s CEO, Maha Al Mansouri confirmed that the Gulf state has claimed first place in the 2020 Digital Access Rights Assessment (DARE) Index, which is according to Qatar 2022 “a global benchmarking tool used to measure access to information and communication technology, and we seek to maintain this leadership at the global level through a series of strategic partnership with various entities across the country, including the SC.”

Accessibility forms are a pivotal part of the Qatar 2022 Sustainability Strategy, “which applies to all functional areas and projects involved in preparations for the tournament and its legacy.”

Released in 2020, the strategy states one of its aims is to “ensure an accessible FIFA World Cup 2022 for disabled people and people with limited mobility, while facilitating accessibility across physical infrastructure, public transport and services in Qatar.”

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