Pandemic doesn’t stop volunteer efforts to aid visually impaired

Image Credit: Courtesy AUS

By Poojaraj Maniyeri

UNIVERSITY CITY, SHARJAH – Despite the pandemic and increasing coursework, American University of Sharjah students are continuing to work with the Emirates Association of Visually Impaired by making written material accessible to the blind. 

The volunteers retype unreadable PDF files, usually in Arabic, into Word documents readable to the visual aid scanners. Alternatively, they may also record an audio reading of the PDF text. These are then sent back to the visually impaired. Since 2018, the AUS students have been carrying out this endeavor, working in the semester breaks as well. 

“Sometimes, you consider something as a small act, but in fact, it turns out to have a huge impact on people who are in need of it,” Yasmine Marwan Al Haffar, the volunteering student leader, said in a recent interview. “Always use what God has empowered you with in order to empower others, as one way of gratitude.” 

The Community Services and Outreach Program heads all such volunteering campaigns undertaken in AUS. In August 2020, AUS was awarded the Sharjah Volunteer Award recognizing their service to the visually impaired community as well as several other volunteer campaigns, among which most notable is the Al Thiqah Handicapped Club initiative.