Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO) today honoured winners of the 6th Braille Reading Competition, the first of its kind in the Arab World, held under the slogan "Everybody Can Read".
The competition, winner of Khalifa Award for Education in 2011, aims to raise awareness among the public about visually impaired people and their potential and to enable children to gain knowledge and encourage the culture of reading among the blind. The contest aims to enable the visually impaired to read, enrich their vocabulary, develop their skills and explore their talents in literature using the Braille system.
A number of stories have been printed in braille and given to children with visual impairment so they can display their knowledge and social skills in the competition.
Organisers said 70 contestants from the UAE, and Gulf, Arab and foreign countries competed in the 6th edition. Each participant has to read specific stories and books, which have been assigned to suit the participant's age, and they will then be asked about them in front of a judging committee.
UAE students dominated the scene, scooping the first three spots in the age group (6 to 9 years). Ghaith Mohammed Al Ghafli from Al Ain was crowned winner of the competition while Hend Ali Khalifa bin Kalban and Shama Hashem Al Hashemi took the second and third places respectively.
In the 10-12 years group, Jordan's Ranem Ahmed Hamouda took the top accolade while UAE's Omar Faiz Al Omari won the first place at the age group for 13-15 years.
The 16-18 age group category prize went to Jordan's Ahmed Khalil Abdullah.
The +19 year category was awarded to German Francesca Sujov.
Sheikh Hazza bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan accompanied by Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), Mohammed Mohammed Al Hamli, Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of ZHO, and Na'ema Al Mansouri, Manager of ZHO's Blind Printing Press, presented cash prizes and certificates of appreciation to the winners.
Al Hamli affirmed that the Zayed Higher Organization has always been committed to provide support and care for special needs people, especially for visually impaired children, with the aim of integrating them with other segments of society and carrying out their lives in a normal way, under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Al Masnouri recalled how the project got a humble start to grow and evolve into a regional competition in its sixth edition and then to international one in its 7th edition.
Addressing the audience, she said ZHO is proud of the qualitative leap the competition has achieved in this year's cycle.
This year, she added, the competition is divided into five categories, including university students.
later, Al Hamli presented a commemorative shield to Sheikh Hamdan for his kind patronage of the competition.
The Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs (ZHO) is applying the Braille system as one of the most important methods that helps the visually impaired communicate, particularly in education and at work.
Braille also helps support their cultural growth and language development and has been proven to be the fastest and most successful means for integrating visually impaired students into their school community as well as in the local community at large.