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In partnership with NAID, launch of the first ‘Boost with Facebook for People with Disabilities’ program in the MENA region

The program aims to empower differently-abled people to start their business online.

Facebook, in partnership with the National Academy of Information Technology for People with Disabilities (NAID), launched its first Boost with Facebook for People with Disabilities program in Egypt, designed to support the economic empowerment of disabled Egyptians working in the SMB ecosystem.

The event took place virtually on the NAID Academy Facebook page and brought together speakers to discuss how to expand opportunities for people with disabilities to start their own business through Facebook’s platforms.

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Over the last few years, support toward people with disabilities has been a focus for Egypt, with technology playing an increasingly important role in helping overcome any challenges and barriers. As part of the country’s ongoing efforts to achieve the Egypt 2030 vision for greater social and economic inclusion, MCIT set up NAID to support people with disabilities utilizing technology to develop their skills and support them in contributing to the economic and social development of the country.

Associate Professor AbdEl-Monem El-Sharkawy, Chairman of NAID, said: “We are extremely pleased to be collaborating with Facebook to bring the first ‘Boost for People with Disabilities’ event to Egypt. The pandemic has highlighted the important role that technology can have in setting up and growing businesses online. Social media has continued to drive forward business opportunities across the SMB space and we are looking forward to more inclusion of people with disabilities. Yesterday’s sessions offer an opportunity for us to challenge the status quo. It’s worth mentioning that assistive technologies and social media provide better opportunities for the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities.”

The virtual sessions provided attendees with practical training on how to utilize Facebook’s tools, in addition to advice on how Instagram and WhatsApp could be used to set up their businesses online and engage with relevant communities and consumers.

Azzam Alameddin, Public Policy Director, Middle East and North Africa, at Facebook, commented: “Our commitment to the region, economic recovery and those who use our platforms remains steadfast, as we work to develop programs that support them in accessing opportunities and creating an economy that is inclusive of everyone’s abilities. Small and medium businesses are an integral part of any economic growth and ensuring the right accessibility for those with disabilities will allow that critical sector to continue to grow and expand. Our dedicated Accessibility Team is continually working to better understand how these technologies may be able to support those with vision loss and blindness, hearing loss and deafness, or motor disabilities. This partnership with the NAID is an exciting step in this direction and provides greater access for all.”

Facebook continues to advance digital accessibility by applying cutting-edge technologies like AI to create new features and services that can build a more inclusive user experience for people with disabilities. These solutions include our AI-driven automatic photo description technology (automatic alt text or “AAT”) that can describe objects in photos to people who are blind or visually impaired, our face recognition accessibility tool to help people who are blind or visually impaired know more about who is in their photos, and automatic closed captioning for Facebook Live, Workplace Live, Instagram TV and for ads and Pages.

The ‘Boost with Facebook’ program was first launched in Egypt in 2019 to support the growth of the SMB sector and facilitate economic growth. The program is designed to give SMBs an extra boost in building or expanding their online business. The program includes ways to build skills, learn from a community of other businesses, human support and inspiration from other businesses.