KARACHI: Professionals with special needs featured ‘for the first time ever’ in an information technology conference on Thursday in which they reflected on the revolution in their life that was brought about by advanced gadgets and devices and reduced their dependence on other people, helping them lead a normal life.
The first-ever international conference on information technology was organised by the IT faculty of the Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU) in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission at a local hotel.
The conference was declared open by Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, vice chancellor of the SMIU, as dozens of international and Pakistani scholars were there.
Organisers said it was the first time in any conference in the country that a session was dedicated to special people who benefited from the evolution of information technology.
Dr Sabir Michael, a research scholar and a professor in Karachi University’s social work department, spoke over the role of computer technology in benefiting the people who could not see like him, as well as other special people.
He said all disabilities needed computers to be mitigated. He urged the universities in the country to assess the needs of people with different kinds of disabilities.
“Try to understand which needs are required to be taken care of in the local context,” said Dr Michael.
He said it was ever evolving information technology that made special people use their abilities normally as other people.
“Some years ago, I found it really hard when I came back home from abroad and was not able to communicate to my family to pick me up from the airport. Now I am efficient enough to use this technology as normally as anyone can do,” he added.
He said information technology which did not help and liberate the vulnerable was ‘useless’.
He said the researchers, universities and companies should make devices supported by indigenous languages like Urdu, Sindhi, and Pashto etc. He said same thing had already been done in India where those devices and gadgets supported by Hindi and other languages were there to help special people.
“There are many blind people who are in software engineering and they need support and encouragement.”
Computer technology, he said, helped in decreasing special people’s dependency and supporting them.
Akhtar Waqar Tabish, a research scholar of the department of computer science of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, said he had lost both his hands in a horrible train accident when he was just four.
He said life was extremely hard after that accident, but he learnt to live with the disability.
“The fact that I have lost both hands has not deprived me of wings; nor stopped me from getting education and becoming a professional,” said Mr Tabish.
He said he was inspired to do his own business.
“I have created opportunities for myself and will create opportunities for others in the shape of jobs,” he said.
He said new technologies were panaceas for disabilities. Bionic hands were there to help people like him and he would soon use that technology. He thanked the people who were developing technology to cater to the needs of the disabled and allowing them to grow and lead a normal life.
Earlier, Dr Shaikh welcomed the guests from Pakistan and abroad and said that mankind at present was living in the era of revolution of information technology in which 3.6 billion people of the world were enjoying the facility of the internet.
“This has turned the world in a global village, and thus, has created its own challenges and issues, which too would be discussed during this conference,” said Dr Shaikh.
He said information technology was a huge revolution in which without possessing any piece of land or owning some industry, people could earn their livelihoods through a computer device and knowledge of information technology.
Prof Syed Asif Ali, dean of the faculty of information technology, said in his welcoming speech that it was the first conference of its kind for the SMIU and the country itself. He said some 40 research papers would be presented in the conference.
Dr Valentina Emilia Balas of the University of Arad, Romania, said it was a highly important meet which would employ immense advantage in the fields of science and technology and benefit society as a whole.
In her paper, she explained the low-power consumption and high reliability in the case of the brain comparing with silicon-based computers.
“Our goal is to advance understanding of architectures matching the novel nano-devices and communication schemes performing at ultra-low power and enhanced reliability all brain inspired,” she said.
Florin Popentiu Vladicescu, professor, UNESCO Chair in Information and Communication Engineering, University of Oradea, Romania, spoke over the new complexity generated both by the size of data collections from the field, and the integration of systems in “System of Systems” to assure the fulfilment of objectives with respect to risk management requirements.
Prof Valiuddin Abbas, registrar, Hamdard University, Dawood Shamim of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, Faraz Zaidi, an advisor at Health Analytics, Ontario, and Canada, Aqeel-ur-Rehman from the Hamdard University, Azhar Ali Shah of the University of Sindh, Rafi Ullah Khan, Hina Mahmood from Qurtaba University, Peshawar, and Sidra Sultana of the National University of Science and Technology, Rawalpindi, also spoke.
Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2017